We now buy 4 times as many clothing items as we used to in the 1990s!
That leads to more than 80 pounds of waste being created by each person in America.
We buy more clothes, we wear them a lot less than we used to and then we throw them away.
This is a problem and the cause of that problem is fast fashion and the companies that provide it.
How Can You Spot A Fast Fashion Brand?
Fast fashion is the opposite of slow fashion.
Fast fashion brands to avoid will try to push out huge volumes of clothes each year and sell them as cheaply as possible.
The idea is to get consumers churning over their wardrobes all year long.
This creates waste, pollution, and human misery.
So, check out our list of some of the worst offenders.
Shein – Ethically Questionable
If you make a list of fast fashion brands to avoid then Shein has to top the list. The fashion industry has many bad eggs but Shein refuses to engage at all with any activity that ethical brands consider essential.
Its products are horrifyingly cheap and they are the only global fashion brand that we can think of that shipped a swastika necklace in the last few years.
They say that they follow ethical practices but in our experience cheap, low-quality clothing is rarely made by those earning more than minimum wage in great conditions.
Mango – Big Polluter
Mango rather like America's Fashion Nova is everywhere and it's super popular. The trouble is that like many fast fashion brands, they simply don't seem to care about using sustainable materials.
They pay legal minimums rather than recommended wages and have refused to explain how much they gave to the garment workers who died at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh while making cheap clothing for Mango.
If you want to know what the best practices are for companies throughout the supply chain, why not take a best sustainable fashion course (there are free ones available – you won't have to pay unless you want to).
H&M – Greenwashing Kings
One of the biggest names in fashion is also one of the biggest names in fast fashion.
Other fast fashion brands at least seem to pretend to care, but H&M still hasn't met its promises to pay living wages to their workers. And even though they don't get a living wage, their female workers are regularly assaulted at work according to The Guardian.
Boohoo – British Promises, Often Broken
This British online-only retailer is now selling out of stores too but there's nothing good about this success story.
The Sunday Times reported that they were paying their workers less than the minimum wage in the UK and that they were being made to work even when they contracted Covid and were sick!
The Environment Audit Committee says Boohoo is one of the least sustainable brands in the nation! That's the definition of a fast-fashion retailer. C'mon Boohoo at least pay people a living wage as you destroy the planet with your rapid fashion and textile waste.
Forever 21 – Slave Labor Practices
Umm… when the corporate website says “we have a goal of eliminating child labor” you know that a company just isn't kind.
This is why we avoid fast fashion brands, it's not just bad quality clothing, and a lack of eco-friendly materials, that's the issue.
These companies are often all too happy to use slave labor or child labor and then try to act like they're doing the world a favor by “trying” to eliminate such behavior. Yuck.
Urban Outfitters – A Proud Fast Fashion Brand
Other brands now make a huge effort to distance themselves from the fast fashion industry. Not Urban Outfitters.
They just seem to be closing their eyes and hoping nobody notices their trendy clothing is made in opaque supply chains and possibly full of hazardous chemicals. We don't know that's true but when fast fashion companies like Urban Outfitters won't tell us what's going on, we can only speculate.
We do know they asked people to work for free every weekend as a “team-building activity” though and that's enough to know that this company hasn't got what it takes to become a sustainable brand.
Primark – The Murkiest Supply Chain
Trendy clothes but poor quality clothing is what this Irish fast-fashion retailer is all about.
They do have a supplier code of conduct, but there's absolutely no evidence that this conduct is actually followed in practice.
In fact, Chinese workers regularly seem to sew SOS pleas into Primark clothing.
Missguided – Disempowering Women
WIth over 1,000 new styles a week, Missguided is nothing but a horror story for the planet.
Hilariously, they claim to “empower women” but the women they employ are paid much less than their male colleagues.
That's a fast-fashion own goal if ever we heard of one.
Zara – Opacity Is Not Transparency
Spain's Zara is another firm where the workers have smuggled out secret messages in their clothing because of how awful the conditions are working for the company.
They also simply refuse to publish the kind of data you'd need to see if they were trying to adhere to any of the sustainable apparel coalition ideas for the future of the planet.
So, our guess is that they probably aren't following any of them.
Victoria's Secret – Underwear Made By Children?
We don't feel sexy knowing our underwear might have been made through the labors of children.
You shouldn't either.
We'd also note that this is another brand that keeps making public commitments to green targets and then refusing to share any data that would support that they were succeeding.
Brandy Melville – Body-Shaming Queens
They say their products are “one size fits all” but this is only true if you are small or extra small.
Not only do they have a hideous environmental footprint but this brand loves to body-shame.
So, why not avoid them and opt for one of our best ethical fashion brands instead?
Garage – Synthetic Fabrics Are Not Sustainable Fashion
Canada's Garage is another company that should hang its head in shame.
It has a pathetically short code of conduct that it doesn't bother to enforce and refuses to disclose where or how any of its products are made.
Garage is… well… fast fashion garbage.
Final Thoughts On Fast Fashion And The Brands That Make It
There's simply no need to buy fast fashion in the 202x's.
The world is changing and many brands are changing with it.
Opt for ethical, slow fashion brands and help to save the planet, to look great, and to feel amazing!