Fast Fashion Vs Slow Fashion: A Case Study

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Fast fashion. Photo courtesy: Unsplash

What comes to your mind when someone says fast fashion vs. slow fashion?

On the surface, fast and slow fashion seem pretty straightforward, but in reality, they can both be complex within the realm of sustainable fashion. Today we will cater you a case study on fast fashion vs slow fashion where you will find the differences and a comparative study to ponder on.

What is fast fashion?

Fast Fashion is the process of imitating trends and styles from the big-name designers on the runway which is most of the time lower quality, cheap priced and not handmade. Manufacturers mass-produce the garments at lightning speed to beat the competition and keep up with customer expectations. Since the Clothing is produced quickly and cheaply, hence we term it as fast fashion.

Example of fast fashion. Fast fashion vs slow fashion.
Example of fast fashion. Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/Fzde_6ITjkw

Fast fashion examples: H&M, Zara, etc. retailing brands’ mass produced t-shirts.

A list of fast fashion brands: 

Uniqlo, Shein, Stradivarius, Mango, H&M, Topshop, Boohoo, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Ripcurl,Primark, GUESS, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, Victoria’s Secret, Zara.

What is Slow Fashion?

Slow fashion is about conscious shopping and wearing clothing with sustainability in mind. It is about designing, creating, and buying clothing that last a long time. Here quality matters over quantity and since the process takes place slowly hence it we term it as slow fashion.

Slow fashion example. Dhakai Muslin.
Dhakai Muslin, an example of slow fashion

Slow fashion examples: Handmade classical products like Jamdani, Dhakai Muslin. Moreover vintage and second hand clothes are also a part of slow fashion.

A list of slow fashion brands: 

Patagonia, Pact, Reformation, Everlane, Alternative Apparel

 

Is slow fashion more sustainable than fast?

Slow fashion promotes a slower, steady and more sustainable approach as it is hand-made with sustainable raw materials like lotus, banana, orange fiber and promotes the use of vintage or second hand clothes, upcycling old clothing materials. It decreases carbon footprint and takes care of the 3Ps of sustainability- People, planet and profit.

Comparing the benefits

  • Slow fashion reduces the consumption of resources and the amount of wasteland people can wear for a long time because they are made up of durable materials but is not cost efficient.
  • Fast fashion quickly responds to rapidly-changing fashion trends and consumer tastes.It carries high-end designs to the masses at affordable price ranges.

Let’s compare the problems faced

  • In Slow fashion small quantities are produced at low speed and hence are not able to compete with the economy of scale strategy. And generally, the products are more expensive than the commodities.
  • Due to the greater manufacturing speed, the factories are likely to neglect the working conditions. The low quality and low pricing of the products results in the increase of fashion waste

Comparing the production schedules

Slow fashion has 2-3 cycles per annum whereas fast fashion has approx. 50+ cycles per annum. We can clearly see the production scale of fast fashion is near 25 times of the slow fashion !!!

Comparing the fashion sales

We can see the graph of slow fashion is very low at the beginning, but gradually the graph of slow fashion can be seen increasing, which means slowly people are understanding the importance of slow fashion. Though the graph of fast fashion is increasing rapidly because people always prefer cheaper prices over quality clothing.

Fast fashion vs slow fashion. A case study on fast fashion vs slow fashion.
Fast fashion vs slow fashion in India (USD Million).

Conclusion

After looking at the facts & surveys we can say that:

  • Fast fashion creates a lot of wastage and hence is quite harmful to the environment hence slow fashion should be promoted more in order to maintain sustainability
  • But when looking at the prices fast fashion is more preferable due to it’s cheaper prices.

But in the end, it depends on what the customer wants and what he prefers. It has to be either quality products/cheaper prices.

To know more about fast fashion, you can read our another article here!

Nandini Kapu 

Student at NIFT- National Institute of Fashion Technology

 

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