Fast fashion vs. slow fashion marks a shift in the fashion industry

Sustainability is causing a change in the fashion industry - It's a fight called fast fashion vs. slow fashion and here are all trends at a glance

Fast fashion vs. slow fashion
Source & Copyright by Ecoalf

Author: Evgenia Lozinskaya

Fashion is fun - probably too much fun when you consider that the industry is responsible for four to six percent of greenhouse emissions worldwide each year. Fast fashion has developed into a disastrous consumption behaviour, which leads to environmental pollution through overproduction. Cheaper, faster and more quantity - these are the buzzwords that have dominated the successful business models to date.

What is the difference between fast fashion and slow fashion?

Fast fashion definition

Fast fashion stands for mass-produced goods with production and distribution channels adapted accordingly. Fast fashion promotes up to 11 different collections per year with very low unit prices, resulting in overconsumptionand the well-known throw-away mentality.

A report by McKinsey shows the plight of the fast fashion industry - worldwide we consume over 100 billion items of clothing annually and generate 92 million tonnes of waste. But the accusations go even deeper - damages to our ecological and social systems already start with the production of the fast fashion collections. The Pulse Of The Fashion Industry Report further explains that washing synthetic textiles generate almost forty percent of microplastic pollution.

Source & Copyright ascetic

Slow fashion definition

Slow fashion aims to counteract this ephemerality. In view of the climate crisis, the “GoGreen” movement is rethinking the fashion industry. Consumers are increasingly showing interest in sustainable options and are thus kicking off a change in the industry.

The concept of slow fashion vs. fast fashion is based on deceleration and creates awareness for respectful and responsible behaviour towards the environment, people and consumption. The sustainability concept of slow fashioninvolves a number of important indicators. These range from environmentally friendly production and selection of raw materials to high-quality manufacturing processes as well as fair trade and safe working conditions.

In order to receive a certified textile seal, every step of the production must be transparent. The use of chemicals is prohibited and the development of new sustainable and efficient materialsand technologies is required.

Key facts: Fast fashion vs. slow fashion

Disadvantages of fast fashion

Fast fashion democratises fashion, but causes overconsumption in the clothing industry with 92 million tons of waste annually

  • Around 60 percent of the products purchased are disposed by consumers after one year, while 40 percent end up in landfills.
  • Fast fashion is based on unfair working conditions and low wages
  • The fast fashion textile industry creates emissions in the same amount like all flights and ship travel consolidated
  • Making clothes causes 2,1 billion tons of CO2and thus 4% of global greenhouse gases

Advantages of slow fashion

With the current developments in the climate crisis, consumer behaviour is moving towards sustainable and conscious decisions through slow fashion.

  • Slow fashion manufacturing and production are environmentally friendly
  • Short production chains mostly due to the regional origin of raw materials
  • Fair trade and production and adequate working conditions
  • No pesticides, chemicals or toxins

With slow fashion on the forerun, there are some promising developments this year with which the fashion industry wants to master the challenges of sustainability. The progress of the last few years is now to be scaled up and accelerated, so that the positive influence on both ecological and social aspects can be expanded.

These are the slow fashion trends at a glance:

1. Slow fashion and climate positivity

The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions. Many companies have already started offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, for example through afforestation. The trend of climate positivitygoes one step further and is based on the idea of ​​enabling a positive effect on the environment, instead of minimising the negative consequences. Researchers are further analysing algae, which carry out photosynthesis, as using these in clothing is intended to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

2. Biodiversity and regenerative agriculture

Biodiversity indicates the biological diversity of our planet, which is due to the fact that our clothes are mostly made of natural fibersexists, is threatened with extinction. More and more companies are focusing on restoring biodiversity. In addition, alternative farming methods are being researched, in which a variety of plants are grown to supply the soil with nutrients. These natural solutions to remove CO2 from the atmosphere enable the production of carbon-negative and sustainable clothing.

Fast fashion vs slow fashion

LVMH Life 360 ​​Environmental Initiative; Source & Copyright by LVMH

3. Upcycling and circularity

Reusing waste products and unused materials has become a trend in recent years - large fashion houses like Vivienne Westwood, Balenciaga and Miu Miu reuse materials in their new collections. And also younger brands likeEcoalf successfully drive positive change.

Fast fashion vs slow fashion

Miu Miu Upcycled Collection; Source & Copyright by Miu Miu / Prada Group

Another trend of circularityis resale - the business model is gaining increasing popularity in the industry thanks to established concepts such as The RealReal or Vestiaire Collective. Large corporations are also gradually jumping on the circularity train and announcing initiatives for resale, such as My Theresa or Net a Porter.

4. Innovative materials

Leather made from pineapple or cactus, soycashmereor silk made from rose petals - these are just a few bio-based materials, which are used for the environmentally friendly production of clothing. While Hermès, Adidasand Stella McCartneyuse mushroom leather, called Mylo, corporations like Hugo Boss and Paul Smith rely on pineapple leather. Due to the natural extraction of the fibres, which are mixed with the corn base, this specific leather alternativerequires no petrochemicals like commercially available artificial leather.

Fast fashion vs slow fashion Paul Smith

Paul Smith Dusty Pinatex Low-Top Sneakers; Source & Copyright by Paul Smith

5. Ethical trading

Sustainable fashion not only implies the use of environmentally friendly materials and processes, but also relates to social impact. The ethical aspect is therefore only fulfilled when the company meets certain conditions with regard to labor rights and wages.

The difference between slow fashion and fast fashion is a question of ethics

In order for progress to continue, a clear and standardised language needs to be spoken. In the past few years the industry has changed and has become aware of its ecological and social effects. With the current slow fashion movement, coping with the climate crisis, the fashion industry presents promising developments with which it wants to counter the challenges of fast fashion.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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