Fast fashion vs slow fashion – what you need to know

Jessie Moore ·

We explain everything you need to know about fast fashion vs slow fashion, along with the many benefits of slow, sustainable fashion.

It’s astounding to realise that the fashion industry is worth a staggering £1.34 trillion in annual global retail sales. That figure is eye-watering enough, but when you realise that this is actually equivalent to the GDP of the planet’s poorest 126 countries, you really realise the scale of it. Unsurprisingly, the fashion industry has a monumentally large carbon footprint, accounting for around 10% of the globe’s carbon build-up and worryingly five times the amount of carbon dioxide as the aviation industry! It has other detrimental effects on the earth’s wellbeing, but also on the communities and people who work within the industry.

What we’re talking about here is fast fashion. Slow fashion is the antithesis to that.

So, what is slow fashion and is it the way to go for the future?

Slow fashion: what is it?

Fast fashion is likely what you think of in terms of many major fashion retailers. The driving concept is that styles and trends move quickly with short-lived ‘seasons’ and the retailer mass produces items regularly which are designed to satisfy this demand. These fashion pieces aren’t designed to last – they are meeting today’s trend, ready to be discarded when the next one comes along. So they need to be low cost.

Unfortunately, this makes for the most labour-dependent industry in the world and it largely fulfils this by using cheap labour in poor countries, such as Bangladesh. Usually women, and sometimes children, being paid very little and often in poor conditions, work to satisfy our drive for new clothes in the West. It also ‘cuts the corners’ by using cheap chemicals and synthetic materials which impacts local ecosystems.

The slow fashion movement is a gradual move away from this model to one of slow sustainable fashion built on more ethical principles. The concept is that fashion items should be designed to last and made to last. They tend to be more classically created and of considerably higher quality. The processes and manufacturing used in production also have a lower impact on the environment and the labour force.

Slow fashion is also not only about the production of new clothes. Within the slow fashion arena is the concept of upcycling, recycling, and second-hand. Buying second-hand vintage or designer clothes is very much part of the slow fashion approach. Designer pieces are intended to have a longer lifespan than fast fashion pieces. They are designed to stay ‘in fashion’ for a lifetime and even beyond.

We are gradually seeing a move from fast fashion to slow fashion with consumers driving a shift in demand. This is actually somewhat going back to our fashion roots.

Can I sell my designer bag?

Before we come onto where to sell your handbags, you’ll first need to consider whether yours is suitable for selling.

Realistically, the bag does need to be a reputable and well-known designer. In terms of whether it’s worth the trouble of selling your bag, you should consider popularity (of the designer and style), and condition. Don’t automatically reject a high-quality designer item if a small repair is needed – you’ll just need to choose a selling platform that does minor repairs (which we recommend you do anyway).

Consider how well-used the bag is. For example, for influencers who have perhaps only used the bag for a photoshoot, it’s in nearly new condition and therefore will likely be easy to sell at a high value. However, if you’ve loved the bag and used it to within an inch of its life, then despite being designer, it’s unlikely to be worth selling. In this case, you may get more joy by donating it to a good cause.

If you’re unsure whether a designer handbag is worth selling, carry out an internet search for the item and you’ll soon get a feel of whether it’s worth it.

Benefits of slow fashion

When it comes to considering fast fashion vs slow fashion, it’s really worth diving into the advantages and benefits of slow fashion. It helps to reveal the stark differences between the two approaches.

Less wasteful

You won’t be sending so much to landfill if you take a slow approach to your wardrobe.

Classic and unique style

With fast fashion, you’re a slave to trends. With slow sustainable fashion you can create your own unique style rooted in exceptional and classic pieces.

Better quality

Slow fashion items are designed to last. Their quality is considerably better than mass produced factory pieces which often look tired, broken or worn within just a few wears.

Lower environmental impact

Producing textiles is harsh on the planet with mass farming using pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, as well as factories using chemicals that run off into local water supplies.

Less polluting

Many fashion production processes are polluting, as well as using immense amounts of water. Water is a scarce resource. It takes 2,720 litres of water to make a cotton t-shirt. It would take you three years to drink that much!

Helps local economies

With slow fashion, more people benefit to a greater degree. New pieces are typically made closer to the point of sale, and farmers and labourers are paid a fairer price. With the second-hand market, there is a circular element to the fashion economy too.

Bag Borrow or Steal

It’s more ethical and has a better social impact: In addition, with slow fashion, workers are typically better supported and fairly treated. The fast fashion industry has unfortunately been revealed to even use child labour and slave labour, so choosing slow fashion steps away from this.

More sustainable

We can’t continue the pace at which we are producing fast fashion without hugely detrimental impacts. You’ll lower your carbon footprint by considering fast vs slow fashion and making sensible changes to the way you stock your wardrobe.

Kinder to animals

Unfortunately, animal cruelty is still rife within the fast fashion industry. What’s more, you often don’t even realise this – for example, the bushy soft pom-poms on many woolly hats are actually often dyed fur because it’s cheaper to produce.

Supports individuals

With slow fashion you are supporting much smaller independent businesses and design houses. What’s more, with resale of slow fashion designer items, you are also supporting the individual second-hand seller too.

Fast fashion vs slow fashion brands

As a consumer, you can make a difference by choosing to support the slow fashion movement. However, it’s also tricky for you to work out how to do this and which brands are best. You’ll need to dig down into some information about different brands to uncover their impact on people and the planet, to be able to determine if they are fast fashion or taking a more sustainable approach.

It’s also possible to make slow fashion choices by buying high quality items second hand. At Reliked we are contributing to the slow fashion movement by giving influencers a platform on which to sell their pre-loved items. It’s a way to get exceptional quality at a fraction of the price and ensure clothing and accessories don’t end up in landfill.

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