Fast Fashion Vs Slow Fashion: A Case Study

Fast Fashion Vs Slow Fashion: A Case Study

Fast fashion vs slow fashion is like yin and yang in the arena of fashion world. Though the terms are completely opposite, there is a need of sensing their difference and concretely know which means what- fast fashion vs slow fashion-what are the differences, fast fashion and slow fashion brands, which fashion to choose when, etc.

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.

[Attention! Read the full article. There is a fun quiz to check your knowledge about fast fashion vs slow fashion]


According to Google Trends, the highest interest in this topic was in April 2009 and the second highest interest is on October 2021.

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.

Fast fashion examples:

H&M, Zara, etc. retailing brands’ mass produced t-shirts, pants, etc.

Fast fashion vs Slow fashion brands:

Fast fashion and slow fashion brands also have differences according to their design, production, selling and operating criteria which enable us to do Fast fashion vs slow fashion brands comparison.

A list of fast fashion brands: 

Interest in the 'Fast fashion' topic according to Google Trends. Source: Screenshot taken from Google Trends.

Interest in the ‘Fast fashion’ topic according to Google Trends. Source: Screenshot taken from Google Trends.

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, we term it as slow fashion.


Dhakai Muslin, an example of slow fashion

Dhakai Muslin, an example of slow fashion

Slow fashion examples:

Handmade classical products like Jamdani, Dhakai Muslin, Nakshi kantha, etc. Moreover vintage and second hand clothes are also a part of slow fashion.

Slow fashion history:

The term ‘slow fashion’ is not so old. In fact, this term emerged in the year 2007 when journalist Kate Fletcher, a fashion and sustainability pioneer, coined the word “slow fashion” in an article published in the British publication-The Ecologist.


The photo of Kate Fletcher who coined the term 'slow fashion'. Her name is now attached with the history of slow fashion.

The photo of Kate Fletcher who coined the term ‘slow fashion’. Her name is now attached with the history of slow fashion.

Actually, the concept of slow fashion is inspired from the Slow Food Movement founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 which links pleasure and food with awareness and responsibility.

After her coining out this term, it became a world trend and talk of the fashion world.

A list of slow fashion brands: 

Is slow fashion more sustainable than fast fashion?

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 of slow fashion and fast fashion

  • 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.
Fast fashion vs slow fashion Google Trends. The interest and talk of fast fashion was always more than slow fashion from the beginning. Source: Google Trends.

Fast fashion vs slow fashion Google Trends. The interest and talk of fast fashion was always more than slow fashion from the beginning. Source: Google Trends.

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).


Fast Fashion Slow Fashion
Production Rapid and mass production Slow and deliberate production
Design Approach Trend-driven and short-lived designs Timeless and enduring designs
Manufacturing Outsourcing to low-cost labor countries Emphasis on local, ethical manufacturing
Material Selection Synthetic materials and low-cost fabrics Natural, organic, and sustainable materials
Environmental Impact High pollution and waste generation Focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness
Consumer Behavior Impulse buying and frequent purchases Conscious consumption and fewer purchases
Supply Chain Lack of transparency and unethical practices Ethical sourcing and transparent supply chain
Social Responsibility Exploitation of low-wage workers Fair wages and labor rights
Longevity Disposable fashion with short lifespan Durable garments designed for longevity

A table showing the differences between fast fashion and slow fashion.


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.


Nandini Kapu 

Student at NIFT- National Institute of Fashion Technology

(NB. This article was written by Nandini Kapu. It has been updated and will be updated by Fashionnovation whenever we find new relevant information to make it rich so that the information best serves you. So, stay with Fashionnovation!)

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Fast Fashion

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is a type of fashion which is cheap and trendy clothing and where the samples ideas are gathered from the catwalk or celebrity culture and are turned into garments. So we can say that fast fashion has 3 components from the consumers perspective. It’s cheap, trendy and disposable. So it makes clothes affordable to people.

History of fast fashion

But there is a history behind this phenomenon of fast fashion. Until the mid-twentieth century the fashion industry worked for four seasons in a year. The designers predicted that what would be the choice of customers and relying on this they would work many months in advance. But this method changed drastically in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, the young generation started to create new ideas using cheap material and this also created new trends. Although most fashion brands tried a lot to get any idea of keeping up with the increasing demand for affordable clothes, but still there was not a fishy distinction between the high-end and high street fashion. Then finally in the late 1990s and early 2000s, fast fashion became a booming industry in America with people enthusiastically partaking in consumerism.

Fashion in the 21st Century

Popular fast fashion brands

There are some popular fashion brands that helped fast fashion to start and still they are related to this and also adding many new brands. Such as Zara,, Inditex, Fashion nova, C&A, H&M, Boohoo, Forever21, New Look etc.

In this world, everything has some merits and demerits. Fast fashion is not out of this matter too.

Benefits of fast fashion

The benefits of fast fashion are clear. It’s inexpensive clothing.bIn response to the latest trend it is produced to mass market retailers. It also helps to try different styles and trends in a short  time without having  much change in budget.

Disadvantages of fast fashion

There are some disadvantages too. It’s unsustainable. Most of the time the focus lies on imitation of original products. Thus it misleads the customers. Again use of cheap, toxic textile dyes has become a cause of pollution of clean water globally after agriculture.

Fast fashion and Bangladesh

There is a close relation between fast fashion and Bangladesh. Fast fashion retailers cannot easily own the factories that supply them with their wares. Alternatively, a huge part of garment and footwear orders are outsourced to suppliers in emerging markets like Bangladesh, where overhead is cheap and the cost of human labor is cheaper.

Fast fashion as career

The fact about fast fashion as career can be said that the jobs fast fashion creates are not good enough. Because deaths and injuries are common in our industry, from the infamous Rana Plaza factory collapse to the lesser known but constant truck accidents which injure, kill, and hurt garment makers on their way.

But over the past few years, fast fashion has established itself in an extremely hot segment and become a source to help some clothing companies to increase and be stable on their economic growth.

The merits and demerits of fast fashion is a matter of a never ending argument. So we need to find a way to balance between fast fashion and sustainable fashion.

Nahema Haque Khushi                                                                                 

Department of Textile Fashion and Design,

Bangladesh University of Textiles,
Id: 2020-1-6-002

Read our well researched case study on fast fashion vs slow fashion!

Fast Fashion Vs Slow Fashion: A Case Study