IATE Term of the Week: Fast Fashion

August 2, 2019 1:28 pm

Within the last 15 years, mass production of clothing has made it possible for huge numbers of people to buy fashionable and comfortable clothes without paying too much for them. Many globally well-known fashion brands make it easy and affordable for everyone to acquire the latest trends in every corner of the planet.

This is a good way to keep up with fashion. However, it sadly comes with a price. These products do not usually last for a long time, making it more of a common habit to go to the shops more often.

Treating our clothes as disposable is creating many negative impacts in the world with immediate effects, from environmental to social problems. On the markets there is an ever-growing fight between fast and slow fashion.

On the one hand, among various impacts on the environment, throwaway garments contribute more to climate change than air and sea travel. As proven in 2015, greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production globally totaled the equivalent of 1.2 billion tons of CO2. We should also take into consideration facts like it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton shirt (enough to meet the average persons drinking needs for two-and-a-half years) and that one garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second.

On the other hand, a 2018 U.S. Department of Labor report found evidence of forced and child labour in the fashion industry in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other countries. The rapid consumption of apparel and the need to deliver on short fashion cycles stress production resources, often resulting in supply chains that put profits ahead of human welfare.

Therefore, it is important to think before we buy something new. Nevertheless, it is not only on us. There have been lately more and more companies considering how to make their entire ranges more sustainable.

Butler S. Is fast fashion giving way to the sustainable wardrobe? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/29/fast-fashion-giving-way-sustainable-wardrobe. Published December 29, 2018. Accessed August 2, 2019.

By the Numbers: The Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts of “Fast Fashion”. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/01/numbers-economic-social-and-environmental-impacts-fast-fashion. Published January 15, 2019. Accessed August 2, 2019.

Globalisation: how EU trade policy helps promote human rights: News: European Parliament. Globalisation: how EU trade policy helps promote human rights | News | European Parliament. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/economy/20190612STO54309/globalisation-how-eu-trade-policy-helps-promote-human-rights. Published June 19, 2019. Accessed August 2, 2019.

Pulse of The Fashion Industry. Global Fashion Agenda -. https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/initiatives/pulse/#. Accessed August 2, 2019.

The truth about fast fashion – and how it effects the environment. European Youth Portal. https://europa.eu/youth/node/57432_da. Accessed August 2, 2019.


Written by Maria Blanca Escudero Fontan, trainee in the Direction of the Directorate B and in TermCoord. Holds a Degree in Translation and Interpretation ( Universidade de Vigo) and a MA in International Studies (USC).

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