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From Fast Fashion to Slow Fashion!

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion (literally translated “fast fashion”) is a phenomenon of our time. Where we used to spend years with a winter coat or jeans, the fashion now changes several times per season. We get tired of what we buy more quickly and continue to want to buy more clothes. In short, the characteristics of fast fashion are:
  • Clothing is produced as cheaply as possible
  • A high turnover rate: multiple fashion trends per season
  • Production in low-wage countries
  • Often environmentally unfriendly production
  • Expensive clothing can also be fast fashion!
This Fast fashion industry has created a new standard of very cheap clothing. This is of course good for the wallet, but this industry has more negative consequences than we may realize.

How did the current Fast fashion industry come about?

We earn more and spend more money on clothes
The percentage of income spent on clothing in Europe has increased from 2 – 5% of disposable income to 10 – 15% of disposable income.

Continuous and rapid flow of new clothing trends
The rise of fast fashion companies such as H&M and Zara since the 1990s has made consumers accustomed to a continuous stream of new clothing trends.

We are constantly tempted and influenced to make purchases online
Thanks to social media and the power of influencers, the consumer can be continuously updated with clothing trends at an increasingly rapid pace via the timelines on his or her account .

More frequent sales and stunt prices in stores
Until 1984, the law on the limitation of sale which stipulated that there could be a sale of 19 days a maximum of twice a year, following the summer and winter collection. Since the abolition of the 'law on limiting sales' (max. 2 sales per year) in 1984, shops are allowed to advertise low prices all year round and consumers have become accustomed to low clothing prices.



The current fashion industry

Currently, the majority of the fashion offering consists of fast fashion products. Trends change very quickly and fashion brands change their (cheap) collections very often. Since the year 2000, our clothing consumption has more than doubled . On average, one item of clothing is worn only seven times . The rapidly changing fashion industry awakens in us as consumers a desire to always wear 'something new' and to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

Fast fashion clothing is often of poor quality
The big fashion chains are only concerned with one thing, profit! This profit depends on our desire to wear new clothes. So why not help this wish a little? Large chains produce hundreds of millions of garments per year. The sooner these clothes wear out, the sooner we will be back in the store to buy new clothes. By using textiles that have to be made cheaper and cheaper, it is the quality that we compromise on first .

The production conditions under which Fast fashion clothing is made are often problematic. About 47 million people work in the clothing industry worldwide, 85% of whom are women. The clothing is often produced in sweatshops in low-wage countries under dire conditions. The majority of seamstresses do not earn a living wage , resulting in inhumanely long working weeks. In Asian clothing factories, seamstresses often work 60 to 90 hour weeks.

The environmental impact of fast fashion is enormous
The production of 1 cotton T-shirt requires 2500 liters of water and 20 cl of chemicals. A pair of jeans requires 7,000 liters of water. Global cotton production consumes 22.5% of insecticides and 10% of pesticides of the total amounts used worldwide. So production takes place in gigantic numbers and at a high pace. Unfortunately, it is also the case that a large part of this production remains unsold. Of the 950 million items of clothing that came onto the Dutch market in 2020, 790 million were sold. That means 160 million garments remained unsold, which essentially means wasted resources. That number is expected to rise further due to fast fashion.

This fast fashion clothing is then often thrown away
In the Netherlands we throw away 235 million kilos of textiles every year, of which only 28 kg (2018) ends up in thrift stores. Of the 40 items of clothing that every Dutch person throws away each year, 24 go to waste.
All this comes with a heavy price. A price that is largely paid behind the scenes by people in developing countries and by our environment. A price that was previously not visible to consumers, but which is now fortunately becoming increasingly clear.


Slow fashion is on the rise!

How can you become a more conscious consumer? It starts with educating yourself, reading up and, above all, opening yourself up to change. Buy sustainable and fair clothing! Buy local, buy second hand and buy from independent designers. If we do this, we can make a difference together. Slow fashion is on the rise and the 'dull' image surrounding it is old-fashioned.

Now that more and more attention is being paid to this subject, the Fast Fashion industry has recently come under increasing criticism. Consumers are becoming more aware and buying more fair trade clothing . In response, companies in this industry are spending millions on campaigns to portray them in a better light. They launch “conscious collections” or donate part of the proceeds to charities.

But despite these devious marketing techniques, we cannot ignore the truth: fast fashion is one of the dirtiest and most harmful industries in the world! To be specific: The fashion industry is second only to the oil industry most polluting industry in the world .

Together on the way to slow fashion

Fortunately, the movement of producers and consumers who want to change this burdensome fashion system is growing. No more mass production, but sustainable fashion that lasts a long time, has little impact on the environment and is produced under humane conditions.

There are more and more initiatives that, each in their own way, contribute to making the clothing industry more sustainable. We have listed a number of fashion alternatives for you. Vintage, fair, green or vegan fashion, what do you think is most important?

Vintage fashion is a sustainable alternative to fast fashion. Because if you reuse other people's clothing, new resources do not have to be used and the clothing does not have to be produced (under poor working conditions). Fortunately, the range of vintage clothing has grown significantly in recent years.

Green fashion is another alternative that contributes to the movement towards slow fashion. The main goal of green fashion is to reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment. There are different ways to make fashion more sustainable. Both the quality of the clothing, the materials used, the energy consumption for production and transport of them are decisive for this.

If you would like to buy something new, you can focus on fashion brands that sell Fair Trade fashion . Fair Fashion focuses on fair clothing that is produced under humane conditions. This could be in a developing country, but also in the Netherlands, for example, by people who are at a distance from the labor market.


Choose the clothing container, not the waste bin!

Are you tired of a piece of clothing or is it worn out? Then definitely don't throw it in the trash, because there are still plenty of useful uses for it! Unfortunately we throw in every year The Netherlands has lost around 135 million kilos of textiles . Unfortunately, only about a quarter of this is recycled. And even broken clothing can still be reused. Find one container near you , or donate one in your bag old clothes at an H&M branch . In short, complete the slow fashion circle again!

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