What is fast fashion
The fast fashion phenomenon is one of the most discussed in the fashion industry.
This way of conceiving and consuming clothing is based on production inspired by big brands, but at low prices and with extremely fast production times.
The goal is to produce trendy products and make them available to the consumer in the shortest possible time while minimizing costs.
This is the opposite practice from the circular economy, which aims not only for sustainability, but also for sharing and recycling products as long as possible.
The origins of “fast fashion”
The earliest hints of this model date back to the 1600s, when so-called Slop Shops began to open in America. These Shops sold new and used military uniforms to workers who could not afford custom-sewn garments. This is where a primitive fast fashion concept was born, but still valid today: buying ready-made clothes at a low price.
With the industrial revolution in the 1800s and the spread of sewing machines, mass production of clothes for middle-class women took hold.
In this context, exploited workers already existed. Indeed, garments were produced by people working at home, for very little compensation and almost no protection.
From the early 1900s, true standardized and mass production became widespread, characterized by the patterns designed to reduce costs that we know today.
Since then, the purchase of clothing has tripled, causing a sharp increase in the amount of clothing produced, used and discarded.
Why does fast fashion pollute?
The main characteristic of fast fashion is its high environmental impact, which is completely incompatible with a future that respects the planet and its inhabitants.
In addition to the massive use of electricity and waste of water, low-cost brands produce millions of tons of synthetic textile waste annually, which is impossible to dispose of because of the harmful chemicals in them.
As reported by a 2022 Greenpeace survey, the famous fast fashion brand Shein is causing much concern about pollution.
In particular, the survey was conducted by Greenpeace Germany, which purchased, and analyzed, 42 items from the well-known low-cost fashion brand.
The alarming results showed the presence of polluting materials in most of the garments examined, in some cases exceeding the levels allowed by European laws.
It doesn’t end there.
The ability to mass-produce to meet ever-increasing demand is the result of socially unsustainable choices as well.
To cut costs and allow brands to produce in ever-increasing quantities, clothing is often made in developing countries, where labor is cheaper and workers’ rights are not respected.
In fact, many fast fashion companies choose to lower workers’ wages and reduce the funds invested in the maintenance of so-called Sweat Shops, the factories where production takes place.
This results in a decisive deterioration of protections for workers, who are forced to work exhausting turns without receiving proper compensation.
Detox choices to fight the problem
The cheap clothing spread by large chains is a growing problem, not only because of the poor protection of workers’ rights, but also because of the pollution it causes.
Recent studies show that some brands still use harmful substances in production.
For this reason, during 2021, the European Parliament voted for an action plan in terms of the circular economy that aims to achieve the targets set by 2050.
The proposed strategy aims to eliminate microfibers in the environment and add stricter standards regarding production consumption.
Each company has the responsibility to make the production chain traceable, ensuring high quality standards and the well-being of workers.
To take part in this challenge, several companies led by the Confindustria Toscana Nord association have joined together, pursuing Greenpeace‘s Detox commitments.
Consorzio Italiano Implementazione Detox was established to manage the common path of member companies toward a toxic-free production system and sustainable fashion.
Believing in a common project keeps passion high. Therefore, working as a team is a real strength.
It is important that consumers also contribute to change.
Buying garments consciously and adopting choices that protect the planet and the well-being of workers is the first but crucial step toward a fashionable, but sustainable future.