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Fast-Fashion Brands, Definition, Environmental Impact

Everything to Know About Fast Fashion and How to Avoid It

Fast-Fashion Brands, Definition, Environmental Impact
Image Sources: Getty / Edward Berthelot / Jeremy Moeller, Getty / Jeremy Moeller and Photo Illustration: Aly Lim

If you shop for clothing, chances are fast fashion is a regular part of your routine. Even if you aren't buying it, you likely encounter it when you walk down the high street, scroll through your social media feeds, or search for a new outfit to shop. At this point, finding cheap, trendy, and brand-new clothing is as simple as getting a cup of coffee. Some brands have been around for decades, and recently, some newer, online-only retailers have taken over the space. What they all have in common is that they sell the top trends at the lowest prices.

While having inexpensive clothing at our fingertips might seem like a dream, fast fashion has a cost — and people and the planet are paying it. The clothing made by these companies is often created using exploited labour worldwide. It's also made in large quantities, with materials like plastic, which breaks down into our water systems. According to research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported on by, from 2000 to 2015, clothing sales doubled to around 200 billion units a year, while the average times clothing was worn decreased by 36 percent — meaning people are discarding clothing at a higher rate than ever before. The garments then end up in landfills or secondhand markets, where they impact both the health and livelihood of local communities in the global majority.

Simply put: fast fashion isn't slowing down, and that's a big problem for all of us. So, how did we get here, and what can we do to stop it? Read ahead for more.

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