You may have noticed that Slow Fashion and Fast Fashion are expressions used increasingly often in the retail industry. What do these two terms mean? And why is the distinction between both concepts now more than ever necessary?
As its terminology indicates Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion are conceptions of fashion that relate differently to time.
Fast Fashion believes that trends in retail change frequently and that, accordingly, collections in stores should reflect these changes in trends.
Some Fast Fashion retailers have even made the case that they have democratized the fashion experience – no longer reserved for the elite, fashion is available and accessible to all. Thanks to Fast Fashion, everyone can afford to wear the latest trends, and to regularly experience the short-lived high of a new fashion purchase and the pleasure of wearing something new.
Thus, Fast Fashion relies primarily on low prices: so everyone can indulge frequently in new trends. It relies secondly on rapid turnovers: apparels evolve from the design stage to the retail floor in only a matter of weeks.
To produce large quantities rapidly and at a low price, Fast Fashion’s supply costs must be kept low and use cheap materials (eg: petroleum based synthetic materials, rayon, nylon, copper, chromium), cheap manufacturing processes (heavy machinery, chemical dyeing processes), and of course cheap labor costs.
Outsourcing production to developing countries with low minimum wages (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India for example) is an inevitable step in Fast Fashion production. Sometimes these countries do not respect labor human rights. The result is a disposable $9 shirt you can buy at Zara that won’t survive 5 rounds of laundry.
“In short: Fast Fashion stands for quantity over quality”