Is Fast Fashion Unethical?

During the mid-90s, fashion houses in the US ran on the four seasons of the year; summer, winter, spring, and fall. Clothe designers would work months ahead of each season, designing styles they believed the public would love. During this time, clothes were made of high-quality material, cost more, and were not easily discarded by their users. Fast track to the late 90s and mid-20s, many fashion companies began to spring up in many Asian and Latin American countries. These companies promised the public trendier styles sold at very low prices. But at what cost? Read on to know all about fast fashion, its unethical or not, and the danger it poses to the environment.

Is Fast Fashion Unethical?

The emergence of fast fashion has increased carbon emission, pollution of sea bodies due to the washing away of micro-plastic contained in the synthetic fabrics, increase in textile waste, overworking of clothing factory laborers, and more.

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What is Fast Fashion?

Imagine this; you are casually strolling through the mall, doing some window-shopping when you suddenly see that the coffee-brown jacket you saw on Kylie Jenner last week Tuesday is being sold at a discounted price to the first 20 people. You have tried the jacket on before and know it fits snugly and looks good on you. Do you buy it?

Whether we admit it or not, fast fashion is a trend that most people have been pulled into. At its core, the desire of the public to keep up with and own the latest fashion trend is what fuels the fast fashion biz.

Fast fashion allows for fast changes in fashion while continuously whetting the appetite of the public to buy more clothes by offering the latest trends at cheap prices.  In their bid to keep up with the latest fashion trends and the ever-changing fashion needs of the public, fast fashion companies tend to overwork their staff to produce more in less time. To meet the desire of the public to purchase the latest fashion styles at inexpensive prices, they mass-produce trendy styles from low-quality synthetic materials which pose a danger to the environment.

How is Fast Fashion Unethical?

 According to statistics, the number of clothes bought by the average American in a year during the mid-90s was about 25 pieces or less. Then, the average cost of an average American family income on clothes and shoes was around 10%. In this era of fast fashion, an average American purchases about 70 pieces of clothes or more in a year, while spending less than 3.5% of the planned budget.

Although most are likely to enjoy the opportunity of affording trendy styles at cheap prices, fast fashion has been criticized for harming the environment and being unethical in many ways. These include:

  • Increase in clothe disposal. To meet up with the high demands of the public for the latest styles at economical prices, fast fashion companies make clothes from flimsy low-quality materials. These materials are discarded after being worn a couple of times by the consumer to make space for newer trends. It is easy for anyone to throw away inexpensive clothes of low quality than clothes made from high-quality materials and are quite expensive. The Council for Textile Recycling stated that an average American disposes of about 70 pounds of textile and clothing every year.
  • Increase in carbon dioxide emission. As reported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of yearly global carbon emissions. This usually occurs from when the wares are transported to the retailers until they are discarded by the consumer to be burnt.
  • Inadequate work environment. In a bid to meet up with the high demands and mass-produce garments in a cheap way, the fashion industry has been found to exploit their laborers. One of the many ways this is done is by paying them pittance whilst forcing them to work for long hours under bad and sometimes dangerous working conditions.

Today, the advent of online shops has made fast fashion faster. From the comfort of the home, anyone can shop for the brand, style, color, and price of choice with a few clicks on the phone, all in an instant. 


The endless cycle of producing more clothes without creating a way for their proper disposal comes at an extremely high environmental cost which no one is willing to pay. It, therefore, becomes paramount for leading fashion companies involved in fast fashion to slow down their clothes production pace and develop more ethical and environmental-friendly means of producing garments.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a fast-fashion alternative?

According to experts, an alternative is “slow fashion”. This involves making quality garments in an environmentally friendly way.

  1. What are popular fast fashion brands?
    They include Shein, Zara, Forever 21, Fashion Nova, Boohoo, etc.
Is Fast Fashion Unethical?

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