The fashion industry contributes significantly to carbon emissions, water use, and textile waste. This industry is actually the second largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry. 

Fast fashion, in particular, has the biggest environmental and social impact; clothing produced in these businesses are frequently poorly manufactured with inappropriate materials. That’s why in this blog we look at exactly what fast fashion is; we’ve together some brands that are committed to environmental and social sustainability for you to shop with. 

What is Fast Fashion?

Shopping for new clothes used to be a once-in-a-while activity, something we did a few times a year when the seasons changed or when we outgrew our current wardrobe. Something changed, though, around 20-30 years ago. Clothes grew less expensive, trend cycles accelerated, and shopping became a pastime. 

Since then, fast fashion and global chains have taken over our high streets and internet stores. But what is fast fashion, though? Fast fashion is defined as low-cost, trendy clothing that takes inspiration from the catwalk or celebrity culture and quickly transforms it into cheap clothes at high-street stores to meet consumer demand. 

The goal is to get the newest trends on the market as quickly as possible so that buyers can buy them while they’re trendy and then throw them away after a few wears. It reinforces the notion that wearing the same outfit over and over is a fashion faux pas, and that in order to be current, you must wear the most up-to-date trends as they emerge. It is an important component of the destructive system of overproduction and overconsumption.

Spotting A Fast Fashion Brand

Most fast fashion brands have some key factors in common, making them easy to spot. 

  • There are thousands of styles to choose from, covering all of the hottest trends
  • The time between when a trend or garment is seen on the catwalk or in celebrity media and when it hits the shelves is extremely brief
  • Offshore manufacturing, where labour is cheapest, with low-wage workers with no rights or safety, and complex supply chains with no visibility beyond the first tier
  • Limited supplies, pioneered by Zara, the concept of a limited supply of a certain outfit
  • With fresh merchandise arriving every few days, buyers know that if they don’t buy anything they like right away, they’ll miss out
  • Clothes made of low-cost, low-quality materials that are likely to degrade after only a few uses

Unethical Clothing Brands

If you’re looking for fast fashion brands to avoid there are many to look out for. Many of the fast-fashion behemoths we know today, such as H&M, began as small businesses in Europe in 1950, and Zara with its first store opening in Northern Spain in 1975. People first heard the term ‘fast fashion’ when Zara arrived in New York in the early 1990s. The phrase was invented by the New York Times to characterise Zara’s goal of reducing the time it takes for a garment to move from design to retail.

Primark and TopShop are two other big names in fast fashion today. While these brands were formerly considered as radically cheap disruptors, Missguided, Forever 21, Shein, Boohoo, and Fashion Nova are now even cheaper and faster alternatives.

What Can Be Done?

We’ve seen a growing number of shops offer sustainable and ethical fashion programmes such as in-store recycling programmes as an increasing number of consumers call out the true cost of the fashion business, particularly fast fashion. Customers can drop off unwanted items in ‘bins’ in the brands’ stores under these schemes. However, barely 0.1 per cent of all clothing collected by charities and take-back programmes is recycled into a new textile fibre, according to reports.

The fundamental issue with fast fashion is the rate at which it is manufactured, which puts enormous strain on both people and the environment. Recycling and small eco or vegan clothing lines, when they aren’t just for show, aren’t enough to combat the ‘throw-away culture,’ waste, natural resource depletion, and a slew of other problems caused by rapid fashion. The entire system must be overhauled.

The first step is to buy less and fall in love with what you currently have by styling them differently or even ‘flipping’ them. Why not transform those old pants into a pair of stylish unhemmed shorts, or make a crop out of that baggy old sweater?

The second step is to shop smart. Committing to just buying secondhand or from environmentally friendly brands such as those listed below will make a big difference in your carbon footprint. 

The Best Slow Fashion Brands


Morcant creates season-less, branded essentials for your capsule wardrobe. “Our pieces are consciously crafted to enhance your effortless style, focused on elevating your off-duty daywear and functional basics.” 

They sought to curate calm silhouettes, with a clear image and signature branding, suited for any professional environment. Morcant apparel is comfortable by design, representing the concepts of a basic lifestyle and sustainability in a hectic world.

Megan Ismay

Megan Ismay is a fresh eco-friendly fashion brand based in Nottingham, United Kingdom. “We pride ourselves in being as sustainable as possible from fabrics to design, production and packaging.” 

If you’re looking for feminine, ethical party wear for special events and celebrations, Megan Ismay is for you. 


boki is a mission-driven small business that uses organic cotton, recycled materials, plastic-free packaging, and fair trade production to promote sustainability. “boki is aiming to become the go-to green brand, a sustainable “high street brand” in the long run.” 

From a range of fun graphic tees to super cosy sweatshirts, boki is the perfect choice for those looking for a quirkier style. 

Artful Sonder

Limited-edition organic cotton t-shirts, preloved vintage clothes, and tote bags are available from Artful Sonder, a unisex ethical business located in Leeds. 

Their products are screen printed with water-based inks, all printed on super soft organic cotton t-shirts that are GOT approved, ethically traded and carbon neutral. As a bonus, each purchase will plant two trees. 


Boody carefully selects the softest, most comfortable clothing essentials for your everyday life. They use organic bamboo that has been grown naturally. They strive to create easy-to-wear clothing that you can feel good about, from the textiles they use to how they design, make, and deliver their products. 

“We’re often asked why we only make basic essentials. We believe that beauty lies in simplicity and consciously keep our collection minimalist and versatile. Everyday essentials are perhaps the most important pieces in your wardrobe and our mission is to provide you with modern, high-quality basics that naturally fit who you are. Our timeless, durable collections are made to suit your everyday lifestyle and this is our design philosophy.” 


Cariki is a sustainable apparel company attempting to change an industry that uses irresponsible and polluting production methods. Every business choice is made with the environment in mind, and all of their products are sustainably sourced and ethically created.

“Urban inspired yet made with the environment in mind, our aim is to create bold new trends using only responsible alternatives. We combine environmental ingenuity with charismatic style to bring you the latest and greatest in sustainable fashion. Designed for the raver, the risk taker and the change maker. We are for those who strive for better.” 

Shop At GoEthical

Grab all these brands and more from GoEthical, whether you have a specific product in mind or you’re looking for items to reduce your waste. Buy and sell ethical & eco-friendly, artisan, and pre-loved products at GoEthical.

If you want to browse an array of environmentally friendly and sustainable fashion products, all you need to do is download the GoEthical App for IOS or Google Play. On it, you can chat and connect with like-minded community members and discover detailed listings for ethical and eco products, from small sellers to well-known global brands.

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