As a necessity, clothing is continuously bought throughout our lives. Each purchase gives us a chance to sustainably support our community. Fast fashion brands often offer clothes at a cheaper price, but the repercussions of their production harms both the natural environment and their workers. Fast fashion requires a large drinking water consumption for production, utilizes inhumane worker conditions and forced child labor, and results in high carbon dioxide emissions.
Primark is a well known fast fashion brand supplying a variety of clothes in high stock, although there remain many questions regarding the sustainability of the corporation. To begin, Primark is a part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and they have introduced
projects to minimize waste and packaging. Additionally, the US and European Primark stores donate their unsold clothing to charities. On the other hand, they have not provided information about their progress in removing hazardous chemicals from their products nor have they given the promised reports on their greenhouse gas emissions.
Regarding worker conditions, they have adopted the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Code of Conduct but it does not establish a living wage for workers and they need more transparency in their labor policies. Overall, Primark has taken steps toward becoming a more ethical business but they need to continue accomplishing larger goals especially in relation to transparency to become a more sustainable company.
To provide more history on the origin of fast fashion, let's travel back to the 1960s. The fashion industry used to only base their design periods on the natural four seasons, but in the 1960s, customers loved the campaign for paper clothes based around fast fashion. Now, fast fashion companies have a new collection each week to offer frequent new styles for customers. Many fast fashion brands use toxic chemicals and synthetic fabrics. When synthetic fabrics are washed, they can release up to 1,900 microfibers into the water which
leads to the ocean to be eaten by small aquatic organisms which fish then consume. Additionally, synthetic fibers are non-biodegradable and consist of plastic, therefore they sit for 200 years in landfills before they decompose while possibly up to 95 percent of the thrown away clothing materials could be recycled instead. Slow fashion offers a better alternative with fair labor conditions, natural materials, and long lasting products.
Some fast fashion companies to be mindful of include Shein, Romwe, Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing, and Forever 21. These companies in general need more transparency in their production ranging from their labor conditions to how they reduce their impact on the environment. A few good slow fashion companies to explore include CHNGE, Armedangels, and nu-in. CHNGE is a US-based brand using 100% organic materials to create long lasting
clothing. Armedangels is a German company that produces quality garments made from environmentally friendly materials and they commit to the Fair Wear Foundation Code of Conduct to provide protection for their employees. nu-in is a European company that prioritizes sustainability by utilizing environmentally friendly materials and strives to minimize material waste.
It is important to keep these brand names in mind to ensure that you are supporting sustainable slow fashion businesses. It is often easy to follow the allure of clothing made at a cheap price, but slow fashion can only grow by people supporting them. Each day we have the opportunity to contribute to the environment in small ways. By choosing to purchase from slow fashion companies and encouraging our friends to do the same, we can help shape the consumer habits of tomorrow.