Is Fast Fashion Clothing Actually Low Quality?
June 14, 2019
The main goal of fast fashion brands is to make cheap clothing as fast as they can. This attitude causes serious environmental, social, and economic problems. In addition, the quality of fast fashion clothing is what causes us, as individuals the most trouble.
Is fast fashion clothing low quality? In most cases, fast fashion clothing is extremely low quality due to using cheap materials and labor. They are made to fall apart quickly so you’d go back and purchase more. There are some exceptions occasionally, but in general, fast fashion is made to be thrown away after a couple of wears.
If you look close enough, you can spot the signs of low-quality clothing already in the stores. Save money and time by buying a little more expensive, but better quality items!
Why is it Impossible for Fast Fashion to be Good Quality?
Most people say that they can’t buy other than fast fashion because “normal” clothing brands are too expensive. But in reality, fast fashion is the one that’s too cheap!
How is it possible for a T-shirt to be less expensive than a cup of coffee? It shouldn’t be!
Major fast fashion retailers are competing for consumers by pushing further and further down their prices. For that, they have to find ways to cut their expenses which mean cheaper materials and sweatshops.
Polyester is the worst clothing material ever existed and it’s one of the main materials used by fast fashion companies due to its cheap cost.
It is made of plastic which is, obviously, bad for the environment, and releases microplastic to our water systems when washed.
Polyester is not breathable which means that you get all sweaty under it. Because of this, it’s especially unsuitable for summer clothes and underwear.
Always look for natural materials instead, like organic cotton, linen, or bamboo!
The thickness of the fabric
Personally, I think the most visible difference between fast fashion and quality fashion is that the thickness of fast fashion clothes is around 75% of what it should be. And I’m not talking about sheer tops that are supposed to look like that, but regular T-shirts and jeans.
This is why a lot of fashion clothes are see-through, there’s simply not enough material in them.
The lack of materials also makes the clothes last less long because they can get damaged and ripped more easily.
You might know that fast fashion companies produce their clothes in sweatshops. Which means underpaid workers, sometimes child labor, poor or even unsafe conditions, and a very fast paced work. Do you think this is the perfect recipe for good quality production? I don’t think so…
If you’ve seen videos of garment workers you know that they stitch together an item is less than a minute! That’s insane!
As a result, clothes fall apart very quickly, it comes apart at the seams, or the threads come undone.
Factory workers simply don’t have the time to do a decent job!
Believe it or not, our shopping habit is one of the reasons why fast fashion is so bad quality.
By buying the cheapest clothes possible we’re pushing down the prices and therefore the quality of our clothes.
People don’t take care of their clothes as they used to a couple of decades ago. This throwaway culture allows fast fashion brands to produce manufacture such low-quality clothes.
It’s a vicious cycle that’s hurting our planet, the workers, and the consumers as well. And the only way to stop it is to boycott fast fashion!
Why is it Bad to Buy Low-Quality Clothing
Buying low-quality fast fashion is bad for the environment, but it is also hurting you! Having better clothes could actually save you money and time and cheap clothing might be dangerous for your health as well!
Health Effects of Fast Fashion
We often forget that our skin is our biggest organ. That being said what we wear just as important for our health as what we eat!
Clothes are treated with harsh chemicals and dyes which might cause rashes or even cancer(source).
Sustainable fashion brands are limiting the use of chemicals in their production, thus they are safer than fast fashion where cost-efficiency is the main priority.
Mental health is also a topic worth mentioning. The constant feeling of pressure to keep up with fast fashion trends can cause addictions. Also, we’re often trying to feel a void with impulse shopping (just like binge eating) which should be better solved with a more mindful approach.
Why Cheap Clothing is Actually More Expensive and Time-Consuming
Low-quality fast fashion is more expensive and time-consuming simply because we have to buy more.
I used to wear cheap skinny jeans that I’ve worn out in a matter of months. That meant going to the mall, trying on jeans (an activity that I absolutely hate), and paying that 15 bucks in every three or four months.
Now I wear $60 jeans that last for years and also fit me better than the ones I used to buy before.
Environmental Damage & Waste
The fashion industry is one of the top polluters in the world. Clothing production uses tons of water and electricity and requires huge lands to grow materials. Chemicals that are used in the process are being released in the water and soil that has disastrous effects on the surrounding nature and the people who live nearby.
And all this destruction for these cheap things we throw away so quickly?
Most materials, especially fabric blends, can’t be recycled effectively. Which means we can only recycle them into even lower quality materials for rags, cloths, or insulation, but not into clothing materials.
Clothes that end up in landfill take decades, or even 200 years(source) in case of polyester to decompose.
Shop Sustainable Fashion for Better Quality
Sustainable fashion takes into consideration the livelihood of garment workers, the environmental footprint of clothing production, animal welfare, and consumers in contrary to fast fashion’s profit first approach.
Sustainable and slow fashion values quality instead of quantity. Its aim is to create good-quality items with better production methods to reduce the environmental damage and the textile waste of the fashion industry.
Sustainably made clothes use better materials, are better tailored, and are made to last longer. They are a little more expensive than fast fashion but they worth the investment in the long run.
Purchasing slow fashion requires a mindset shift that could be difficult at first, but very rewarding long-term. You’re going to appreciate and take care of your clothes more because you’re no longer going to think of them as disposables. You’re also going to develop your personal style because the items you buy today will last you years, unlike most fast fashion fads.
Are there any advantages of fast fashion? Fast fashion employes a tremendous amount of people in developing countries who might not have jobs otherwise. However, they could easily afford to pay more to help these people out of poverty and provide them better working conditions.
Are more expensive clothes better quality? Usually, more expensive clothes are of better quality. They are made with better materials by better-paid workers. However, luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton are overpriced because of the logo, not the quality, and they don’t worth your money. Check out my post about this topic for further details!
Written by Csilla Herbszt, a sustainably stylish fashion blogger living her vegan life in Switzerland. You should follow her on Instagram!