Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Enya from Tipperary. Enya Wonders, “What is Fast and Slow Fashion industry?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Enya!

Do you follow fashion? If so, you know how quickly trends can change. Clothing may be in style one day and outdated the next. How can anyone expect to keep up?

Once upon a time, fashion trends changed at a slower pace. Designers produced new styles and clothing lines four times a year—once for each season. However, since the rise of fast fashion in the last 50 years, all that has changed.

What is fast fashion? It’s a way of making and selling clothing at a fast pace to keep up with changing trends. Fast fashion companies may produce new clothing weekly—52 times per year instead of the traditional four.

Fast fashion has both advantages and disadvantages. For example, these companies seek to produce clothing as cheaply as possible. This makes it possible to sell items at much lower prices. That means far more people can afford their products. 

Besides making clothing more affordable, many fast fashion companies carry more sizes than traditional fashion lines. By being more inclusive, they draw a wider customer base. This also gives more people of all shapes and sizes the chance to express themselves through fashion.

However, fast fashion has its downsides. The use of cheap materials means the clothing produced doesn’t last long. After a few wears, it may become torn or damaged. Consumers then often discard the items, which end up in landfills.

Additionally, companies use many further resources to replace clothing as quickly as it sells. This increases the impact on the environment. In fact, experts estimate that fast fashion contributes up to 10 percent of all carbon emissions per year.

Besides cheap materials, fast fashion requires cheap labor. In many cases, items are made in parts of the world with few labor laws. That means fast fashion companies may exploit workers, offering very low pay for long hours.

For many of these reasons, many people today do their best to avoid fast fashion. But how can you tell if a company is part of this industry? Pay attention to what the clothing you buy is made from. If it contains cheap materials like polyester and nylon, it may be fast fashion.

It also helps to learn where clothes are made. From there, you can look into the company’s labor practices. Does it pay low wages? Does it produce enough clothing to sell new items each week? If so, it is likely part of the fast fashion industry.

There are other ways to make a difference. Individuals can help by caring for their clothes. Follow cleaning instructions on clothing tags, and make repairs to damaged items instead of throwing them away. Thrift shopping and sharing clothes with others instead of buying new can also help.

Think about your family’s fashion practices. Do you buy fast fashion? How about second hand? Do you repair clothes or throw them away? Talk with a family member today about what you can do to slow down the effects of fast fashion.

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.3,

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