The Facts of Fashion
Ever since Hasan Minhaj called out the fast fashion industry in his, “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion” on Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, everyone’s been walking around thinking they’re the wokest person out there. You’re not wrong, truly; watching that episode and processing Hasan’s immeasurable wisdom are all steps in the right direction, but is there more you could be doing?
To quote Jake Peralta, “um DOIH!”
For one, you could stop shopping from all brands that actively participate in fast fashion; from paying unlivable wages to polluting developing countries, these brands are really scum of the earth, and who wants anything to do with that?
Great idea! Go wild, reduce your carbon footprint and stop contributing to unethical brands! But, before you go around making any proclamations and storying posts about fast fashion, check this out; this is a (fact-checked) list of the top 25 fast fashion brands you should avoid, all in one place.
But wait! Do you really think you’re going to be able to give up that silken, weightless Bershka fabric, or stay away from that gorgeous red lace bra that Alessandra Ambrosio is taking pictures in? Or, how about GAP’s comfy hoodies, or Adidas’ swanky shoes? With every brand on that list, you’ll reconsider how serious you are about this decision to ban fast fashion from your head, heart and bank account transactions.
The worst part? I can’t even blame you. Fast fashion is a characteristic part of the industry, and to understand why that is, we need to sit down and discuss exactly how it all started.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, the Industrial Revolution happened. Before that, fashion was reserved only for the bougie, the proletariat––smart people for aam aadmi––had to make their own clothes out of scrap materials. Even after the Industrial Revolution, this didn’t change much until the 1960s; the labor force had increased dramatically, a group we now term––dun, dun, dun: baby boomers. Basically, they were a result of the increased sexual activity after soldiers came home from World War II. When they became old enough to work, the influx of people into the workforce caused a dramatic reduction of wages and costs of production decreased drastically. Alongside, the industry quickened its pace and then rapid production became the way of the day. In the 2000s, with the rise of the boho chic––which evolved into what is now Coachella fashion––this industry blew up and evolved into modern-day fast fashion.
Fashion went from having 4 seasons a year––fall, winter, spring and summer––to having 52 micro-seasons (the year has 52 weeks, make the connection). This industry is particularly categorised by the “fast” in fast fashion; H&M and Forever 21 get new shipments daily, while Topshop introduces 400 new styles weekly (Stanton).
(And “I don’t need love, instant gratification” perfectly sums up how consumers respond to this constant influx of styles (thanks, Blackbear). For more on why we respond like this, check out my article “The Fixation on Fast Fashion”!)
While this production and these brands seem like they’re everywhere, in reality, fast fashion only makes up about 4% of the entire fashion industry (“Global”). What does this mean, and why should you care? For each fast fashion brand which we shop from, there’s an alternative; statistically speaking, there’s about 24 alternative brands which you can buy from instead. Here are some:
Eco-friendly brands who use only ethically-sourced materials. Added bonus: cute-as-hell clothes. (Non-bonus: Most of these are international, so shipping may not necessarily be possible right now, but brb!
Pact: Best-known for their versatile and hella comfy basics!
Alternative Apparel: Incredibly comfortable loungewear!
Nordgreen: Steep but sexy watches!
Fazl: Comfy, cheap fuzzy socks!
Mayamiko: Bold-printed and patterned clothing!
Girlfriend Collective: Gorgeous active wear from recycled plastic materials!
No Nasties: Indian brand with Indo-western garments––perfect gift for moms!
Brown Boy: Cheapest brand on this list, t-shirts for boys!
Disclaimer: Despite hunting for the cheapest, these brands are not necessarily cheap. They have great discounts, but they’re not as cheap as H&M or Zara. Consider this: What do brands selling at that price range do? Cheap fashion is terrible for your skin, body and nature!
Brands whose eco-friendly collections are legit––no, H&M is not one:
Levi’s Water<Less Collection: Classic denims, just more eco-friendly
Athleta by Gap: Gap’s sub-brand has verifiably done some amazing things––diverted 38 million+ water bottles from landfills since 2015, making them into athleisure.
The Switch Fix Co.: Completely organic, no-plastic-packaging body and hair-care products. (Personal recommendation: Their conditioners transformed my curls!)
Pee-Safe: Biodegradable pads and sanitary products
Second-hand Retailers: Branded clothing, worn and re-sold; it’s bougie but cheap, clean and green. Don’t forget to wash it before you wear it!
Thrifters and Upcyclers: Making clothes out of cloth is hard, but making new and cut clothes out of already-existing clothes is even harder––but cheaper, so check these out:*
The Salvage Story (@thesalvagestory)
Mumbai Thrifts (@mumbaithrifts)
Panda Picked (@pandapickedstore)
Our Vestiary (@our.vestiary)
The Fine Finds (@thefinefinds)
The Thrift Centre (@thethriftcentre)
If you really want to––I think you do, or you wouldn’t have read so far––it’s possible to make better choices; whether that choice is watching Hasan’s Fast Fashion exposé (not a paid endorsement, I’m just a big fan), or following EnvironEarth, or even cutting out one of those 25 brands from your regular shopping spots, that’s up to you. The Good Shopping Guide is a great resource to help in this pursuit, so check it out when you have doubts about your shopping spots!
Join us at EnvironEarth, and the millions of people who are majorly costed by the nightmare of fast fashion, in the fight against it.
“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.” – Lucy Siegle
Crespo, Rebecca. “A Complete List of 25 Fast Fashion Brands to Avoid (& WHY).” Minimalism Made Simple,
Minimalism Made Simple, 2 Nov. 2019, www.minimalismmadesimple.com/home/-fast-fashion-brands.
“Ethical Shopping.” The Good Shopping Guide, thegoodshoppingguide.com/.
Faletra, Megan. “15 Best Affordable & Ethical Clothing Brands For Every Budget.” The Well Essentials, The Well Essentials, 12 Apr. 2019, www.thewellessentials.com/blog/10-budget-friendly-sustainable-fashion-brands?r_done=1.
“Global Fashion Industry Statistics.” FashionUnited, 2019, fashionunited.com/global-fashion-industry-statistics/.
Kay, Natalie. “25 Affordable Ethical Fashion Brands.” Sustainably Chic, Sustainably Chic, 22 Apr. 2020, www.sustainably-chic.com/blog/25-affordable-ethical-fashion-brands-sustainable-clothing.
Stanton, Audrey. “What Is Fast Fashion, Anyway?” The Good Trade, The Good Trade, 24 Apr. 2020, www.thegoodtrade.com/features/what-is-fast-fashion.
“The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion.” Performance by Hasan Minhaj, Youtube, Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGF3ObOBbac&t=282s.