Fast fashion, slow fashion. It’s not about how quickly you can get dressed in the morning so you don’t miss the subway, or how new trends go in and out of style in the snap of a finger. “Fast fashion” is a growing industry that relies on mass produced garments made with only one thing in mind – profit – at the expense of the workers and environment. Nowadays, designs can go from the idea stage to the retail floor in a matter of weeks, but at what cost? Consumers are fighting back against the downsides of “fast fashion” and spearheading the “slow fashion” movement. Are you ready to join the fight?
What’s the Big Deal with Fast Fashion?
Isn’t fast fashion an awesome display of modern technology, trade, and the power of globalization? A fashion designer can create a new design, and a few weeks consumers from Halifax to Victoria can buy it in stores as at a dirt cheap price. What’s not to like?
For one, we must protest the shameful treatment of workers making these clothes abroad. According to the Ethical Trading Initiative, the minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh – where 80% of the economy is tied into the fashion industry – is approximately $15 CAD per month. The minimum wage has been sliced in half since the mid-90s, while the cost of every day essentials like rice, water, and cooking oil only continues to rise. Couple the egregious pay with and unconscionably dangerous working conditions (as evidenced by the 2013 collapse of a garment factory that produced clothing for Toronto grocery chain Loblaws’ Joe Fresh brand), consumers need to think long and hard about what enables the great prices for retail fashion.
In addition to the human toll, fast fashion is harmful to the environment. Fashion manufacturers deplete the fresh water supply to water cotton crops, add pesticides to the environment, overuse fossil fuels and other natural resources, and cause a real dilemma in terms of sustainability.
Let’s Talk About Slow Fashion
Slow fashion is all about thoughtful production that takes into account the bigger picture and recognizes that garment manufacture affects the environment and our global society. Slow fashion is about slowing down production to improve conditions for workers and slowing the pace of raw material use. Slow fashion encourages fair trade, embraces independent designers, and promotes the second-hand/vintage market. Finally, slow fashion is about respecting and valuing fashion workers and contributing on a wider, deeper scale to far-flung communities involved in the fashion industry – from crop farmers to production workers and so on.
When you get dressed tomorrow morning, think about what you are wearing. Awareness is the first step in joining the slow fashion movement. In #yourWORLD, style doesn’t have to have a victim.