Fast Fashion vs Affordable Sustainable Clothing

Jan 06, 2021

Every now and then, you look over to your closet and think: “Now is the time to update my wardrobe.” Maybe you open a tab of H&M, Forever21, Uniqlo, Zara, or maybe all of the above, and begin aimlessly scrolling. You’re ecstatic to see so many clothes offered at such cheap prices, but in the back of your mind, you think: “What’s the quality like with such cheap prices?” or “Didn’t I hear someone say H&M uses child labor?” So you turn to sustainable clothing brands such as People Tree or Amour Vert but are scared off by the prices. Thankfully, there are affordable sustainable clothing options out there like Relax Into the Chaos, but in case you need more convincing to leave fast fashion in the dust, here are some of the pros and cons.

What is unethical about fast fashion?

First off, it’s important to end the rumor that fast fashion runs the fashion industry. In reality, there are plenty of other options, such as affordable sustainable clothing, that are equally popular and have less of a negative environmental impact.

Many people are drawn to fast fashion because it is quick and easy; you can just open your laptop, begin scrolling, and once you buy an item, it arrives within a few days. The main reason for this speedy process is that your order is often shipped from a warehouse filled with shelves piled high with the same shirt, pants, or dress that you just bought.

This is problematic because the clothes on those shelves were made en masse without considering the demand for each individual item. If a product’s need isn’t taken into account, then the remaining articles of clothing are thrown in a landfill when the company decides to retire an item, creating textile waste.

Textile waste is a huge problem; it has a major impact on global warming. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 95% of textiles are able to be recycled but are only recycled at a rate of 15%. Similarly, in 2014, nearly 33 billion pounds of textile waste was found in the public waste system.

Fast fashion is also often found in landfills because of the poor quality. With all clothing, the price directly relates to the quality. Most fast fashion brands capitalize on cheap prices because they are alluring to shoppers. When clothes are cheap, people throw them out more frequently because they need to be replaced all the time.

Sure, everyone would rather pay $10 for a winter sweater compared to one that costs upwards of $100, but most people don’t consider how long these products will last them. The one that costs $10 will wear down quickly, stretching in odd places and tearing at the seams. In the end, it will likely have to be replaced before the end of the year because it is made with cheap fabrics and with cheap labor.

Cheap labor means workers are paid the lowest possible wages in countries that have little protection for workers. Needless to say, this is considered exploitation. Under these conditions, speed is valued over quality. Next time you think about how quick and easy the fast-fashion supply chain is, consider the ethics.

Cheap labor and child labor often go hand in hand. Child labor is outlawed in many countries, but it continues to be common in poor parts of the world. Cheap labor allows for fast fashion brands to appear trendy because they are able to replace their entire stock quickly and frequently. Just because these clothing items look trendy, doesn’t mean that they’re worth the cheap price and cheap quality.

What makes sustainable fashion so ethical?

When it comes to affordable sustainable fashion, the pendulum swings the other way. Whereas fast fashion has more cons than pros, sustainable fashion has more pros than cons. Sustainable clothing does not rely on child labor nor sweatshops for its items to be produced. This means that when you purchase sustainable clothing, you’re investing in ethical fashion.

In terms of quality, affordable sustainable clothing is much higher than fast fashion. Some companies offer certified organic cotton while others use recycled materials. Either way, sustainable clothing companies make products that last. Sustainable fashion brands are often thought of as being overly expensive, but that’s because you are paying for the quality!

It’s important to mention that sustainable fashion can also be offered at an affordable price. Relax Into the Chaos, for example, sells T-shirts made of organic cotton for $27.49 whereas a T-shirt from Free People can cost $70. It can be hard for some people to understand that a one-time investment for something that is a little more expensive usually ends up working in their favor because the product lasts longer.

Just a tip, many people that make the switch to sustainable purchasing habits utilize a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe refers to paring down your wardrobe so that it only includes your favorite clothing items. It also includes shopping more intentionally and less regularly.

The pros of affordable sustainable clothing include products that last, good ethics, and high-quality products made of certified organic cotton, recycled or sustainable materials. The only possible con would be that sustainable clothing is more expensive than fast fashion, but this is because they are designed to last. In the end, buying affordable sustainable clothing will make you feel good knowing both you and the Earth are benefiting from your purchase.

With fast fashions, the cons clearly outweigh the pros. The cons include the negative impact on the environment, high waste production, cheap quality, bad ethics, and poor working conditions. The pros of fast fashion include cheap prices, trendy items, and speedy production and delivery.

If you are finally ready to make the switch and buy some affordable sustainable clothing, Relax Into the Chaos is here to help! Relax Into the Chaos is an independent T-shirt maker that uses only organic cotton and offers a competitive price point compared to other sustainable fashion brands. Check out some of what Relax Into the Chaos has for sale online at https://relaxintochaos.com/t-shirts/.

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