Fast fashion sucks. It depletes the planet of resources it desperately needs, and exploits hardworking people (mostly women) who are underpaid and often abused. All for a shitty tee shirt that will fall apart and be replaced by a new one next season.
Slow fashion has emerged in the last decade or so as a reaction to the detrimental social and environmental impacts of fast fashion. The hope with slow fashion is that if pieces are made with time and care, considering both the materials and the individuals involved in its supply chain, then brands can become more sustainable. The problem is this often comes with a higher price tag for consumers- and while many of us may want to be sustainable, we can’t all afford to be.
The average “sustainable” t-shirt is $30+ as opposed to a Target, Walmart or Forever 21 $5 alternative. And even that is a low ball estimate. T-shirts from slow and sustainable brands can be upwards of $80, which is comparable to what many Americans make per day. This discrepancy in price point is making slow and sustainable fashion unattainable for the average consumer.
For those of us who can’t afford an $80 biodegradable t-shirt made from beach-wood fiber that was naturally dyed and required half the amount of water to be produced compared to that of the average cotton tee, our most sustainable option is to thrift. Thrifting clothes from our local Goodwill is our only affordable way to shop without producing extra waste- but even this is unattainable for many Americans who don’t have the time to sift through racks of unorganized chaos that others of us revel in. For non-thrifters on a budget who care about the planet, the choices are limited if not all together barren.
With this unattainability, many are wondering who is slow and sustainable fashion really for? Maybe it’s designed for those who can afford it (which many of their ads and marketing suggest). If the wealthy vow to shop sustainability, will that take pressure off of those who can’t afford it? Or is it more so a reflection on our consumer driven society, that regardless of our socio-economics will stand on line over night for a pair of limited edition $200 sneakers that were made by children in China? Whatever it may be, slow and steady fashion is up against many hurdles, and while it has the power and influence to change how many of us consume it has a long way to go in making true and genuine impact.