What is fast fashion?
Fast Fashion is a term that you may have heard of when people talk about ethical fashion and sustainable fashion.
‘Fast fashion’ is clothing that is made to replicate high fashion styles cheaply and quickly, and on a large scale for the general public. The trends and styles of fast fashion change frequently, and consumers must buy new clothing frequently in order to keep up with the trends. To make this practice affordable for people to engage in, garments are priced cheaply, but the companies making these are still making a profit from their business- which means someone somewhere along the supply chain is paying for it. And it’s usually the workers.
In 2014, one of the worst disasters in the fashion industry occurred when a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, leading to the death of 1134 (1) workers, and injuries to thousands more. Just hours previous to the collapse, workers had staged a strike where they walked out of the factory over concerns for their safety due to cracks in the walls and ceilings of the factory walls. The strike was ended when a threat was made to withhold their (below) minimum pay. Within hours the factory had collapsed.
While human exploitation within fast fashion is significantly concerning, it is just one of the many issues this industry has. There are also the environmental impacts, both from its manufacturing processes and the end waste it creates, as well as the impacts on the mental health and well-being of consumers who are faced with ridiculous beauty standards perpetuated by the fashion and beauty industries. Players within the fast fashion industry have also been accused of stealing designs from small designers, and Indigenous artists from around the world.
Fast Fashion Harms People
The garment workers of most fast fashion brands are based in South East Asia. Most of the workers are women and girls who work long hours. The wages they receive are below minimum wage (of their country), and the conditions in which they work are appalling and often dangerous. Workers rights and contracts are limited. Alarmingly, as the COVID-19 epidemic hit the world, fast fashion brands cancelled their orders of garments- which had already been made, but now brands refused to pay for. Thousands of workers were left without pay for work they had already done.
These people are exploited for the sake of frequently bringing cheap clothing to consumers in the west. Their safety, health and rights are not prioritised by fast fashion brands.
The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion
The impact on the environment occurs throughout the supply chains of fast fashion brands. Non-Organic cotton uses pesticides which poison the earth which then exposes cotton workers to these poisons and cause health issues. Dyeing processes in the manufacturing of textiles often cause water pollutions from dyes and chemicals which are dumped into waterways (which are also the drinking and bathing water of nearby locals). Quickly discarded clothing (to keep up with trends) often end up in landfill (even if they were donated to charity, much of the textiles still end up in landfill). Garments which are made of synthetic materials never decompose, but rather break up into smaller fibres which contribute to micro plastics which pollute our earth, oceans and air.
What is Slow Fashion?
These are the issues many are trying to address through the ‘slow fashion’ industry. Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion: instead of creating garments with the focus of keeping up with fast-changing trends, the slow fashion industry produces garments with an emphasis on sustainability- of both the environment, and the people within their supply chains. Most slow fashion brands were started with the awareness of creating better supply chains which protect and uphold the dignity of people, and engaging processes which care for the environment.
There are organisations and campaigns working towards creating greater accountability in fast fashion include Baptist World Aid and Oxfam What She Makes. There are also fair trade and ethical standards certifiers which monitor the manufacturing of their members to ensure that ethical standards are implemented by these brands.
For Mosov, our standards are governed by Australian Made Campaign and by using fabrics that are certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and. The fabric we use for our cotton products are GOTS certified, meaning they comply with ethical and environmental standards of treating the textile workers fairly and with dignity, and the cotton used in those textiles have been grown organically. Our Australian Made certification shows that our products are made in Australia, where we either hand make our products ourselves, or have our products made in our local Australian factory which has Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation, which pays these workers at a fair, Australian standards wage.
The people and the earth are incredibly important to us at Mosov. We believe in the dignity of all people, and in protect and caring for our earth for future generations. We are committed to creating products which are always in style, and which will have minimal impact on the earth at the end of their lives.
Words by Jazmin Ochoa