Is Fast Fashion Really So Bad? Yes, and Here Is Why

A line of clothes on a rack.

Fast fashion has a lot in common with fast food - it can be highly enjoyable at first, but it’s not very good for us.

Fast fashion brands utilize garment workers to produce inexpensive clothes quickly to follow the latest trends. In doing so, they produce massive amounts of textile waste - as well as pollute the air and water.

Stick around to learn more about the environmental impact and human cost of the fast fashion industry. You'll also discover what you can do to help build a more sustainable path forward for the fashion industry.

What Is Fast Fashion

Fast fashion refers to the rapid production of cheap and in-style clothing. It capitalizes on fashion trends from celebrities, catwalk models, and social media influencers.

Its origins trace back to the early 90s in New York, where certain fashion companies noticed that through mass production - they could quickly replicate clothing from the latest fashion shows to capitalize on their popularity.

The model proved highly successful in terms of profitability - but potentially costly in terms of labor and the environment.

4 Ways Fast Fashion Can Be Harmful

Since its emergence back in the 90s, fast fashion has had a measuably negative impact on the environment. Here's a look at four of the most damaging ways fast fashion has changed our world.

Increased Pollution

A buildup of waste on a beach.

Fast fashion's model has resulted in most consumers only wearing outfits a handful of times before disposing of them for the latest trend to hit the shelves. This production style has skyrocketed the global fashion industry to become the world's second-largest polluter. The report also reveals the industry to be the second-largest consumer of water worldwide - while also producing 20% of all global water waste.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee states that clothing production emits more carbon than maritime shipping and plane travel combined.

Questionable Labor Practices

A protestor speaking through a megaphone.

The demand for cheap labor led many fast fashion companies to build their garment factories in developing countries without committing to pay workers a living wage - with some reporting as high as 93% of these companies underpaying their workers.

The lack of safety code regulations for garment factories has often led to unsafe, or even deadly, work environments for these employees as well.

Unecessary Animal Abuse

A view of a locked fence.

Clothing that uses animal products far too often leads to the mistreatment of those very animals. Fast fashion companies that produce leather clothing can even go as far as raising livestock for the sole purpose of harvesting their hides.

Animals are kept in tight quarters where they don’t have enough room to move around. Yet - this type of animal exploitation is completely unnecessary with sustainable alternatives.

Instead of buying clothing that uses animal products (leather, wool, silk, fur) - opt for fabrics that use recycled synthetic materials, old garments, and plastic bottles. That will help cut down on violating animal rights for clothing production.

Fast Fashion Addiction

A woman shopping for dresses.

People are throwing out their clothes much faster than just 15 years ago, with the number of times someone wears a garment before discarding dropping by 36%.

That's a clear indicator of the fourth problem with fast fashion - shopping addiction. In particular, people with compulsive buying disorder feel extreme euphoria during the shopping process. The study also found that negative feelings like guilt, anxiety, and depression are often linked to the post-purchase experience felt by those with shopping addiction.

Fast fashion is disastrous for shopping addiction because it feeds into what we’re wired to enjoy the most - constantly shopping for something new.

How to Determine a “Fast Fashion” Brand

When shopping for new clothes - there are a few ways you can spot fast fashion brands. Here are some of the telltale signs:

  • Unrealistically low prices - if the price seems too good to be true, it often is a product of fast fashion.
  • They release new clothing collections each month, or even each week.
  • They lack supply chain transparency.
  • Thousands of clothing products are available through one company.

Shop for Ethical & Sustainable Menswear at State of Matter Apparel

The State of Matter Apparel logo.

Fast fashion is damaging planet earth - but it doesn't have to be that way. You can make a positive difference by choosing to dress sustainably.

At State of Matter Apparel, we provide ethical and sustainable menswear for every occasion. Our core collections include:

  • The Phoenix: With RENU recycled fibers - this collection of men’s shirts is sustainable and stunning. They’re stylish, comfortable, and highly durable.
  • The Triton: Who says men’s pants can’t be stretchy and comfortable? If you’re sick of jeans - the Triton collection is for you. They’re ethically sourced and made from recycled nylon scraps.
  • The Oceanya: A stylish take on the modern polo shirt - the Oceanya is durable, comfortable, and stretches with your body.

Our innovative methods involve turning recycled nylon, fishing nets, and water bottles into resilient fabrics.

Our clothing is durable, sustainable, ethically sourced, and exceptionally comfortable.

If you want to start dressing more sustainably, don't wait to check out our collections.