Are you aware that an average person now consumes four times more clothing items than two decades ago?
The result is tons of fabric waste each year.
People are now purchasing more apparel than ever to follow fashion and trends. But, the sad thing is, those clothes get worn only a few times and then go to the trash.
Fast Fashion is the biggest contributor to promoting this culture.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion refers to trendy and seasonal clothing inspired by celebrities and runways. But, unlike those, it is available for a fraction of their price.
As the name suggests, the basic concept behind this phenomenon is to keep the retail life cycle short by constantly updating newer styles and designs. Thus, driving consumers to buy more than they need.
What is the Impact of Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is terribly hurting our planet and ecological system. Here is how this practice is badly impacting our environment.
- It promotes huge volumes of production, most of which end up in landfills as non-biodegradable waste.
- Most of these brands use low-quality, toxic materials that release hazardous emissions. In addition, they put the lives of workers and laborers at a greater risk.
- To meet the high volume demand, brands overwork their employees without paying them a decent living.
- Labor abuse and forced labor are also leading issues in this industry. Most of these companies subcontract their production to smaller countries, where ethical labor laws are of little to no prominence.
- Water wastage is another alarming issue, and the said companies are doing nothing significant to counteract this loss.
- Even the animals are not spared by this ridiculous industry. The production waste that goes into the environment, specifically water, gets ingested by both wild and marine animals, endangering their lives.
- Some brands also use animal byproducts, such as fur and leather, which come at the cost of poor animals’ lives.
- Lastly, and most importantly, fast fashion manipulates consumers into believing that disposing of culture is fine and they need to keep abreast with changing trends.
Ever since I learned this truth, my heart has been feeling nothing but remorse. But, it’s not too late.
All we need to do is play our part in preserving our world by banning the brands that promote this culture.
To help you with that, I have piled up a list of the worst fast fashion brands that must be avoided and their alternatives.
Here you go.
Regarded as one of the leading originators of fast fashion, Zara produces more than ten thousand different designs every year.
Reports suggest that the brand designs its products according to a retail cycle of no more than two months. However, the average cycle for most other prominent brands is at least six months.
With so much production going on at such a fast pace, one can only wonder how worst the working conditions for its personnel must be!
The brand also doesn’t use eco-sustainable materials for its production, further harming the environment.
However, it has declared that it will be using eco-friendly materials from 2025 onward. But, until that happens, you can switch to United by Blue.
This USA-based sustainable clothing brand offers a vast range of apparel items for men, women, and children that are both high-quality and environmentally friendly.
This uber-famous sports brand sells millions of pairs of shoes every single week. Yes, you read it right, MILLIONS! And it is only the shoes that I am talking about. It offers a plethora of other products too that enjoy equal popularity.
According to some reports, the brand uses lethal compounds in its products that don’t only harm the atmosphere but also put workers’ health at stake.
To meet high volume production requirements on time, the brand badly abuses its workforce. It is also involved in forced labor and discriminatory treatment of cultural minorities.
If reading all of this makes you feel guilty, I’d suggest you move on to Veja. Loved by the British Royals, this shoe brand produces fashion and sports shoes that are both eco-friendly and stylish at the same time.
With a very high social media popularity, this Chinese brand displays more than 450 new items on its web page every day at highly economical prices.
This practice by the brand ends up promoting the throw-away culture, which results in nothing but the deterioration of our environment.
Sadly, the brand doesn’t take any initiatives to lessen this damage. In addition, it doesn’t provide any information regarding its supply chain either.
The brand claims that it follows fair labor practices. But, considering the production volume and extremely low price tags, it seems a bit far-fetched.
The best is to avoid this brand altogether and switch to Sézane, a GOTS and OEKO-TEX approved sustainable brand with impartial labor policies.
The highly popular fast fashion lingerie brand is notorious for many reasons. As per a Greenpeace report, the brand’s products have been found to contain hazardous chemicals.
The company hasn’t unveiled any info regarding the industrial units it works with. It doesn’t pay a reasonable livelihood to its apparel workers either.
Luckily, women are now rejecting the ridiculous beauty ideals set by the company and are running away from it.
If you haven’t yet been able to find out a better brand that promotes inclusivity and safety, then I have got you covered.
Try out Araks‘ lines of daily wear and fancy lingerie. With numerous certifications to its name, this brand is 100% sustainable and safe.
Not a fruit but a fashion retail brand, Mango enjoys a widespread network of outlets in more than 100 countries.
Rest aside, one thing that I admire about this brand is its transparency. It has openly disclosed the toxic gaseous emissions released from its factories.
Going through the brand’s code of behavior, I discovered that it pays minimum wage to its workers instead of the suggested living wages, which is a shame.
Although the brand has announced that it plans to adopt more sustainable policies, it hasn’t been able to demonstrate any promising results so far.
So, until it reaches there, a better substitute is VETTA. The organic brand uses eco-friendly raw materials and strictly adheres to labor-friendly practices.
Praised by fashion lovers worldwide, H&M is the 2nd biggest apparel brand with more than 3000 outlets worldwide. However, I see it as nothing but a dumpster and contaminator.
From exploiting its workers to copying the designs of other luxury fashion houses, there are so many things wrong with this brand.
With its implication of being eco-friendly through display signs, the company has also been involved in green sheen.
The company has made certain claims about being sustainable, but all of them are very ambiguous. I think it’s time to dump this dumpster for good.
There are much better and more responsible brands now that you can switch to, such as Fair Indigo. The charitable, safe, and GOTS-approved brand is worth a try.
Another popular yet highly unethical brand is Forever 21. Not only does it manufacture poor-quality clothes, but it also sells them at very cheap rates, which means its workers are highly underpaid.
As per a study conducted by the American labor Division, the people working for the brand get paid less than $5 per hour. This is a blatant violation of labor laws.
The brand is also least concerned about the safety of its workforce and doesn’t have any safeguards in place for those poor souls.
In addition, it keeps the information regarding its production materials a complete secret and has faced numerous copyright violation lawsuits.
Since there is nothing good about this brand, it should be avoided no matter what. For a better experience, try out this UK-based, ECOCERT-approved brand Thought for a change.
This UK-based fashion brand has seen rapid growth over the past few years. The brand has often vowed to improve its sustainability practices but has failed to live up to its words.
In addition to following the fast fashion custom of mass production, the wage it pays to its workers is below the suggested minimum. Plus, the quality of its products is literally pathetic.
Reports also suggest that the company forced its employees to keep working even during the peak COVID time without providing them with the safety equipment.
This brand has been tagged as one of the least eco-friendly fashion brands in the United Kingdom for these reasons and more.
If you want a responsible alternative, then Kotn is a good option having multiple certifications.
Due to high demand, this brand produces and sells hundreds of articles every minute, putting enormous pressure on its workers.
No evidence has been found that could suggest that the company pays sufficiently to its workforce. In addition, it is not doing anything to counter the environmental damages caused by its greenhouse gas emissions.
So, instead of holding on to this irresponsible brand, get yourself some durable and classy stuff from Outerknown, a US-based eco-friendly brand. Although this shop sells hand-me-down products, I’d still recommend it because of its ethical practices.
This brand has been rated very poorly on many platforms due to the damage it has been doing to the environment with its overproduction.
In addition to causing pollution, this brand also abuses its labors, overburdening them with work while paying a fraction of what they deserve.
That’s not it. The brand also tortures and torments animals for testing and obtaining raw material.
So, how to put an end to it?
The answer is simple, STOP BUYING from the brand and switch to other responsible alternatives, such as ADAY
Originated in Ireland, Primark is yet another name on the list of infamous brands that should be avoided to save the planet.
Numerous instances have occurred indicating absurd labor policies of the brand. Not only does it overstrain its workers by allocating long working shifts, but it also significantly underpays them.
Coming to its environmental impact, the company’s production and toxic waste are also concerning issues.
However, it has been taking some measures to reduce the environmental damage, but it has a long way to go.
Until it reaches the mark where it could be regarded as a safe brand, a much better substitute is Boden.
It is a UK-based BCI-approved company with ethical labor practices that believe in only green production.
12-Pretty Little Thing
This is another horrible brand because of its ridiculous ethical practices.
When I looked at the brand’s sustainability statement, I was literally amazed.
Before you get optimistic, let me clarify that my amazement was more of a shock.
Instead of describing how the brand is playing its part in ecological preservation, it puts the entire responsibility of going green solely on the users.
There is no mention of what the brand is doing to minimize the toxic waste constantly polluting the atmosphere.
A while back, some deadly chemicals were also found in its products that could result in birth flaws or other serious ailments.
The brand does have a green collection, but that tiny range doesn’t make up for the 99.9% of non-renewable products.
As an alternate, you can go for Boody. This Australian company follows an ethical route in everything.
This brand manufactures apparel, shoes, accessories, and beauty products that enjoy high popularity amongst the younger generations.
Numerous reports suggest that the employees of the brand are poorly compensated. In addition, they are also made to work on weekends.
Although the brand asserts that it doesn’t promote child labor or slavery, it hasn’t provided concrete evidence to back up this claim.
According to a report, the brand also used Corona Virus to justify not paying its workers during the pandemic.
Surely, all of this information would have put you off from using this brand again.
But, what to buy instead? Try Tentree, a Canadian-based company with multiple certifications.
This British fashion brand terms itself “rapid fashion.” With over a thousand new designs launched weekly, the brand surely lives up to this name.
However, it is not admirable as it encourages users to dispose of clothes after a few uses.
This, in turn, results in enormous piles of fabric waste every year.
In addition to not making any efforts to reduce its carbon footmark, the brand also discriminates against female employees by paying them less.
The brand also uses animal-derived ingredients, which include animal skins and furs. No wonder it has the worst environmental rating.
So, is there any worthy alternate? Yes, Patagonia. It uses organic and renewable materials while ensuring labor safety.
Another name in the world of fastfashion is ASOS. Like many listed above, this brand also sells poor quality and low-priced clothing items made of artificial and non-biodegradable materials.
The packaging material also contains a lot of plastic, which is pointless and actually very hazardous to the environment.
Taking everything into account, the brand is responsible for producing mass amounts of toxic waste that is only destroying the world we are living in.
We need to completely ban it and move to better options, like plastic-free and renewable brand Quince.
This leisurewear brand used to get its production done through compelled labor in Asia, North Korea, to be specific. That country is infamous for its slavery-like labor practices if you don’t know.
The brand shows poor performance on every environmental front. It really needs to work on reducing its carbon emissions.
I have a better and more responsible alternative for this brand as well, which is Parker Clay. This US-based brand is working towards improving the deprived African communities by providing them safe working environments and adequate remuneration.
Established in the 80s, this brand has its roots back in Italy. It instantly became a hit as soon as it entered the American market more than a decade ago.
The biggest problem with this brand is its weird sizing. Although the brand says that its products come in a standard size, they only fit people having skinny physiques.
This inexplicit form of body-shaming is appalling as it promotes the idea that only skinny is beautiful. Other than that, the brand is a big polluter and labor abuser, among other issues.
If you want to buy from a responsible and all-inclusive brand, ARMEDANGELS is the one.
This is a renowned brand by Inditex, a holding company that owns several other brands, some of which include Zara, Stradivarius and Oysho.
They all have one thing in common; their unethical policies and practices.
From producing low-grade, badly fitted items to selling in bulk for meager prices, all of them remain on the same page.
Similarly, they all are known for exploiting their employees by overburdening and underpaying them. They also dump huge quantities of toxic materials into the atmosphere.
So, it’s our moral obligation to stay away from this brand and use whatever is beneficial for our mother earth, such as this Canadian brand FRANC.
This fashion brand owns more than 200 retail outlets throughout the USA. But, it’s a terrible company when it comes to owning conservational responsibility.
The brand has not disclosed any information regarding its production practices and the industrial units involved in them.
The brand outsources its production to third-world countries, where labor and human rights violation is a norm. That’s the reason its products are super cheap.
Moreover, the brand uses many synthetic materials in its products that are not biodegradable. I say it’s time to bring a change through CHNGE, an inclusive, eco-friendly, American brand.
As I mentioned above, this is a sibling company of many popular fast-fashion brands, including Zara and more.
Needless to say, the company is ethically and morally corrupt. From mass production to labor laws violations to using unsustainable materials, there is nothing commendable about this brand.
The cheaply priced apparel with its poor quality promotes the culture of using clothes as disposable items. This results in an enormous amount of environmental pollution as textile waste.
The extreme exploitation of the workers by the brand also madeInditex’s owner the sixth wealthiest person globally. Can you imagine?
As much as it boils my blood, I know that only we, as consumers, have the power to give these brands a lesson by permanently banning them.
And if you want a substitute in its place, then PLANT FACED is a great ethical, sustainable, and inclusive brand.
With more than 2500 global retail outlets, GAP is one of the biggest quick fashion brands offering products for men, women, and children. The brand also produces and sells shoes.
Despite its big name and reputation as a fashion icon, GAP has several issues that lead us to point fingers at its integrity.
In addition to underpaying and even not paying its workers at outlets and manufacturing units, it is also said to be involved in coercing abortions on them.
The brand makes its labor force work for a crazy amount of hours. In 2013, it was reported that the brand’s workforce was putting more than 15 hours a day into work. This is just vicious.
I have found a better brand to take its place in my closet, which is AFENDS. From using renewable sources and materials to safeguarding its workers, this brand is better in every single way.
This fashion brand that offers clothing, skincare, and other related items from various Asian companies, works virtually.
So the biggest problem that people have with this brand is its opacity. Since the brand has no physical existence and doesn’t manufacture anything itself, we have no way of knowing the source and production process of the products.
The website of the brand doesn’t mention anything regarding its supply chain. It also doesn’t mention any ecological goals, implying that the brand couldn’t care less about them.
In addition, the brand doesn’t have a protocol even for the companies and dealers it works with. So, even if these companies follow unethical labor and environmental policies, YesStyle has no issues.
Why not switch to a green and transparent company? Seek Collective is an excellent choice if you are up for it.
Another leading brand with a vast global presence, it specializes in producing and selling trendy denim wear for youngsters.
Coming to why it should be avoided, this company is infamous for its worst labor treatment and for not making any efforts to bring improvement to those conditions.
Numerous evidence has been found that shows the ill-treatment of the brand toward its workforce. Few such incidents include sandblasting a few years back and a leaked video showing its slavery-like conditions.
Moreover, the company is one of the biggest environmental polluters and uses multiple toxic compounds in its production units.
The best alternative to this brand is Pact, another US-based company that iscompletely opposite to AE.
Not only does it ensure fair trading practices, but it also uses sustainable materialswhile holding multiple certifications.
This is a one-stop online shop that offers a wide array of products from different sellers from all over the globe, especially in China.
Since there is no distributor involvement in between, its prices are exceptionally low. This puts the customer on a much riskier side as there is no way of knowing what you will get.
Numerous incidents have been reported where people got extremely cheap clothing items that looked nothing like the pictures.
This brand also doesn’t have information regarding its sellers’ ethical code of conduct. But, the high number of items and cheap quality indicates that those sellers are least concerned about business ethics.
As an alternate, you can go for Amour Vert. All of its products are made in America with eco-friendly materials and a labor-friendly environment.
Judging by the moral compass, Zaful deserves the worst rating. This brand replicates other brands’ proprietary designs and makes low-cost copies of them.
What’s worst is that it uses the display pictures of the original designs for selling its products. And what you get is the opposite of what you see.
Since its items are very inexpensive, people don’t mind the bad quality and just move on. What they don’t realize is that this brand is producing mass textile waste that isn’t even biodegradable.
So if you believe in environmental preservation, which you should, please stay away from this brand and choose something better, like Organic Basics.
This brand uses recyclable fabrics and is making real efforts to cleanse the environment.
This Japan-based store has violated the basic rights of its workforce, not once but many times. From overstraining its workers to paying low wages to making them work with toxic materials, this brand has been incessantly stooping to a new low.
Surveys and reports indicate that the brand doesn’t pay adequate wages to its workers. To top it off, it hasn’t even devised any safety protocols for its workers from developing countries.
Also, it is not transparent when it comes to the declaration of its ethical policies. As an eco-friendly and responsible alternative, I’ll suggest you try Beckons.
It is a fairly new brand in the world of fastfashion that aggressively promotes the notion of overconsumption.
This shows that the whole executive model of this company is flawed and ethically corrupt. The prices of its products are dirt cheap, which further tells a lot about the wages it must be paying.
In addition, the brand is always criticized for its sizing issues, late deliveries, and pathetic customer service.
If that’s not enough for you, it is also involved in animal brutality and has been found using animal fuzz in its products. Plus, it is not doing anything to reduce its carbon emissions.
For all these reasons and more, simply boycott this brand and switch to a more sustainable brand Threads 4 Thought.
This brand didn’t enter the market as a fast-fashion retailer but later became one after being acquired by Boohoo.
Unlike other brands in this category, this brand quotes very high rates for its products, which may lead you to believe that it is better than the rest.
However, you don’t know that it uses a unique strategy for tempting customers to buy more. It puts all of its products on sale almost all year round, making people think it’s a total steal.
What you actually get are pathetic quality items made of unsustainable and artificial fabrics. For good quality items with recyclable materials, try Girlfriend Collective. You won’t be disappointed.
Parented by GAP, this brand is also following the footsteps of its owner company. With over a thousand retail outlets across the globe, this brand is actively participating in increasing the atmospheric dump.
In addition, the brand has allegedly been involved in violating labor laws by hiring young girls and abusing expecting women. It is also known to force its employees to work 15+ hours a day.
The brand is now taking some minute measures for ecological preservation by employing water-saving methods.
Nevertheless, the major chunk of its products is made of biohazardous materials. So, what to do? Use an alternative. Being a responsible, eco-friendly company, DL1961 is a viable option.
30-Abercrombie & Fitch
Although this brand dates back more than 100 years ago, it wasn’t until two decades back that it got popular among the younger generations.
The brand is seemingly involved in labor mistreatment. Moreover, it fails to be transparent regarding its policies and procedures. Non-inclusivity is another issue with this brand as it doesn’t produce larger sizes.
With so much pressure now, the brand is gradually trying to turn its ways and become a more sustainable company. But, the pace is very slow, and it will take a long time to reach there.
Until that happens, we have better substitutes available now, one of which is Naadam.
The Final Word
I hope this was an enlightening read for you. I want to assert that only we, as consumers, have the power to change this trend.
If we all pledge to never fall victim to these brands’ marketing gimmicks, we’ll definitely be able to bring a positive change.