The Fast Fashion Problem: From Catwalk to Landfill


As each of us scrabbles around trying to do our bit as individuals to tackle the climate emergency, ‘Fast Fashion’ is a term which has found its way into our vocabularies in recent years.  So, what is it?  And what’s the problem?  We wanted to take a closer look in this, our latest blog.

Defining Fast Fashion

There are plenty of definitions of “Fast Fashion,” with this informative article from The Good Trade neatly summarising them.  In a nutshell, it is a term used by fashion retailers to describe inexpensive designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends.  This is compounded by the way the fashion industry works with new collections created for each season, resulting in a never ending demand from consumers to purchase the latest styles at an affordable price.

It could be said that it is a by-product of modern society, one that is time-conscious, seldom understanding the consequences of our actions, let alone doing anything about it.  Fuelled by social media awash with handsomely paid brand ambassadors, the “must have” culture permeates our way of life.

Keeping up with the Jones’ is as old as time and it’s a hard habit to break, which begs the question: what can we do about it?

Circular Fashion

This is the counter-movement to Fast Fashion which The Green Strategy defines as:

“clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulate responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use.”

Now, that sounds more like it!

High street brands such as H&M have cottoned onto this and taken steps to address accusations that large-scale, multinational operations such as their own are part of the problem.  Their website has extensive sections on sustainability and clearly, a lot of money has been spent repositioning their business to be seen as an ethical brand.

However, some say this is simply ‘greenwash’ and that these actions don’t address the root cause: churning out huge volumes of clothing that simply end up in the bin.   Presenting the counter argument in this article for the Independent, anti-fast fashion campaigner Venetia La Manna writes:

“Ultimately, the sheer amount of product H&M produces is causing irreversible harm to both planet and people, and completely outweighs their sustainability efforts… Fashion this fast can never and will never be sustainable.”

This means that the likes of H&M and Primark need to do much, much more if genuine, long-lasting change is to happen.

Resources, Brands and Stores we love.

Thankfully, there are a growing number of sustainable, “anti-fast fashion” resources and stores.  In no particular preferential order, here are some companies we like the look of:

  1. Remake .  Remake is an American based but global concern dedicated to eradicating Fast Fashion in all its guises.  If their superb “The Facts” page does not hit home the harm of Fast Fashion, this blog is probably not for you.  When on their website, they have a list of approved brands that have passed their own sustainability criteria.  It’s well worth a look here. 
  2. Goose Studio.  One of our A Better Planet members is a huge fan of this Brighton-based studio.  With a core focus on sustainability, they are the polar opposite of Fast Fashion and all the better for it.  Check out their store here.  Sign up to their E-newsletter and they will donate funds to the Rainforest Trust to protect 25 trees.
  3. Veja Trainers.  Think ethical trainers and you won’t go wrong with this superb online store.  They even have a Vegan-friendly range, they are that ethical and sustainable.
  4. The Ellen McCarthur Foundation,  founded by the British Sailor Dame Ellen.  Her foundation originally launched their Make Fashion Circular initiative at the Copenhagen Fashion Week in 2017 and has now gone on to promote circular fashion with many leading brands.
  5. The following are apps readily available for any smartphone/tablet.
    1. Good On You actively rewards fashion brands at all different price points for those taking the lead in promoting circular fashion.  It also allows users to recommend and rate brands they have found for themselves.  This provides smaller, independent fashion brands/stores with fantastic opportunity to reach a global audience.
    2. Save Your Wardrobe.  Dedicated to “making consumers aware of their after purchase behaviour” by building your own digital wardrobe. This not only helps with traceability, it offers sustainable solutions for when you decide to replace that garment.
  6. Hand-me-downs.  What can be more sustainable than utilising your friend and family network to embrace this traditional method of clothing your children?!  There are a lots of communities across social media to help; searching and engaging with them independently can also help with mental health.

We would love to hear about anyone else’s go-to circular fashion ambassadors.  We will reference them in follow up blogs about this topic in the future.

Working with us, for a better planet

If you’re involved in an initiative to promote circular fashion or indeed anything else that improves the health of our planet or makes it a nicer place to be, we at A Better Planet would love to help you spread your message.  Don’t hesitate to get in touch

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Stuart Bennett (19)

Stu – Account Director
Travels by foot or cycles most of the week - consequently exhausted most of the time
Eats a 90% veggie or vegan diet and has switched to oat milk, which is surprisingly good
Hates waste, rarely throws anything away, house is a tip