What is the difference between an "eco-conscious brand" and "fast-fashion"?
What makes a brand "eco-conscious"?
- Transparency to supply-chain and carbon footprint details
- Commitment to the environment, welfare of workers and ethical sourcing
- Continually working to improve products, processes, personnel conditions, and packaging to be more ethical and eco-friendlier, despite possible extra expenses involved to do so
- Often locally sourced to limit carbon footprint within supply-chain (between fabric mill, garment manufacturer, local raw material suppliers, brand, end-consumer)
- Utilizing premium fabrics and raw material suppliers to ensure that garments will stand the test of time, and then might be upcycled when consumer decides to move on
What makes a brand "fast fashion"?
Offshore manufacturing that takes advantage of cheap labor in countries with few wage and safety regulations, often using complex global supply chains with little to no transparency
Inexpensive, low-quality materials designed to quickly degrade and be thrown away after a single season
Hundreds of thousands of assorted styles, most of which are focused on current fashion trends, inexpensive red-carpet designs
Limited quantities of on-trend garments to avoid markdowns and pressure shoppers into buying immediately before they "miss out"
Short turnaround time between when the trend was first spotted on a runway, red carpet, or celebrity Instagram feed and when it hits the stores
How can I make a difference?
- Your buying choices matter a great deal as a consumer. If there is no demand for fast fashion, more brands might be more considerate of both ethical sourcing and the environment.
- Research a brand prior to buying clothing. Sometimes it is exceedingly difficult to tell, as not all fast fashion is "inexpensive".
- Note where the garment is made and explore working conditions of that country and what the brand's policy is to ensure ethical working environments and a commitment to the environment.
- Support local and small brands that are working to make a difference in the world, and not just turn a profit. Many larger brands are helping to lead the way to be transparent, ethical, and committed to ethical and sustainable practices - it is not limited to small brands.
- Understand what "greenwashing" is, and how prevalent it is in today's marketplace and marketing. An example of this is some less expensive "recycled" garments from plastic bottles were made from plastic bottles produced to meet the demand for "recycled" garments.\
- "Knock-offs" are often a sure sign of fast-fashion - if you just saw it on a runway, or celebrity - think twice before picking it up for an "unbelievable deal"
- Most ethical brands are incredibly open regarding their practices, best practices and want to share information with their competitors, rather than keep it as "trade secrets"