Fast Fashion VS Sustainable Fashion: A Guide To Apparel

You may have heard the buzz words fast fashion and sustainable or slow fashion. But what do they mean and what does this mean for your shopping experience? Here’s a guide to apparel and how you can learn to shop more intentionally.

What is Fast Fashion?

According to Wikipedia, “Fast fashion is the business model of replicating recent catwalk trends and high-fashion designs, mass-producing them at a low cost, and bringing them to retail quickly while demand is at its highest. The term fast fashion is also used generically to describe the products of this business model.”

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion can also be referred to slow fashion. According to Wikipedia, “slow fashion is about making conscious and sustainable choices when it comes to fashion, and challenging the fast fashion system that is often associated with negative impacts on people and the planet. It promotes the purchase of higher-quality clothes that will last longer, as well as equitable treatment of people, animals, and the environment.”

What’s the Difference Between Fast Fashion and Sustainable Fashion?

Fast fashion is fashion that is mass produced quickly and at low costs. Whereas slow fashion is fashion that is produced more consciously in smaller batches and with higher quality materials. In many cases, the working environment in fast fashion factories can be poor with unfair wages.

Not all fast fashion brands are bad, but there are many that are causing harm to people and places. Some fast fashion brands are trying to do better so they have a less negative impact on our earth and the people that work for them. But if you are curious about the brands you support, do your research so you are not contributing to their negative impacts.

Fast fashion companies are big name brands like Walmart, Target, H&M, Zara, SHEIN, Forever 21, ASOS, GAP, Old Navy, Amazon, etc.

Slow fashion is more conscious about the environment and the people that work for them. Scroll below to see some slow fashion brand options.

Pros and Cons of Fast Fashion

As with most things in life, there are many pros and cons to both sides. Here are some pros and cons to fast and slow fashion so you can determine for yourself what is best to buy…

Pros of Fast Fashion

Some of the pros of fast fashion are:

  • Trendy fashion is accessible to everyone
  • Prices are more affordable

Cons of Fast Fashion

Some of the cons of fast fashion are:

  • It can cause more pollution
  • Working environments aren’t always ideal, hiring workers in developing countries for lower wages
  • The garments are lower quality, causing them not to last as long
  • Since the clothing is lower quality, there is more waste in landfills

Pros and Cons of Slow Fashion

Here are some pros and cons to slow fashion so you can see if it’s worth the investment.

Pros of Slow Fashion

Some of the pros to slow fashion are:

  • Workers are paid fairly
  • Clothing is higher quality
  • It is better for the environment

Cons of Slow Fashion

Some of the cons to slow fashion are:

  • Prices are higher making it less affordable
  • Smaller batches make it harder to repeat buy or share exactly what you love with others

Sustainable Fashion Options

Thankfully, more brands are understanding the importance of sustainable fashion and there are a lot of options out there! I really love supporting smaller brands because they are making a better impact on society. Their quality is better and their work ethics are better. You vote with your dollars! If this is something that is important to you, stop spending money at big box stores and start supporting smaller brands. Building a capsule wardrobe with slow fashion pieces is a great way to support smaller brands and have a closet that will last!

Here are some of my personal favorite sustainable fashion options to shop from:


If I could only shop from one company, it would be Quince! Here’s what they say about their brand: “Sustainability is built into everything we do. Whenever possible, we choose organic materials, environmentally conscientious packaging and ethical business practices.”

I love Quince because they create high quality essentials for amazing prices. A lot of slow fashion can be more expensive, but Quince has gotten rid of the middle man, making their prices very affordable. I also love that Quince has some styles that are for petite and tall sizes. I have a few of their pants that have a longer inseam for my tall legs and I really appreciate that!

I don’t have a discount code for Quince because their prices are already amazing!

Here are some of my very favorite pieces from Quince that I personally own and love:

Quince Favorites


Able is a great brand that offers great high quality pieces! I especially love their signature styles, they are classic and timeless!

Here are some of my very favorite pieces from Able:

You can see more of my Able Favorites!

Able Favorites


I love Sapahn purses!! Sapahn bags are handmade in Thailand. Brooke is the mastermind behind this brand and the Sapahn story is amazing! They make the Perfect Purses for Traveling and for everyday use.

I love every Sapahn bag that I own. But these are my favorites that I use over and over! (and check out this Sapahn Gift Guide too!)

  • Sarah Ann Crossbody
  • Staney Crossbody
  • Poole Belt Bag
  • Nora Tote Bag
  • Frida Shoulder Bag
  • Jori Mini Crossbody
Sapahn Favorites

Save 20% with this discount code: JOELLEN20

Sarah Flint

One of the cons to slower fashion is a steeper price tag. And you will definitely see that with Sarah Flint shoes. But what you will also see are beautifully hand crafted shoes in Italy with the finest materials! Are Sarah Flint shoes worth it?? I think so! Here are some of my very favorite staples I have in my closet:

  • Perfect Pump– These are just what they are named…the perfect pump! They come in 3 different heel heights. I prefer the Perfect Pump 50. They’re chic, classy, and timeless.
  • Perfect Block Sandal– I’m not exaggerating when I say that I can wear these sandals for hours and my feet are still happy! I personally love the 30 heel height, but they also have the popular 60 height. You can’t go wrong! I have them in Sand Calf and Gold Nappa. You really don’t need any other dressy sandal in your closet!
  • Perfect Emma– These are just as comfortable as the Perfect Pump, but have a sturdier heel. Love them!
  • Natalie Flat– These are perfect for everyday wear. They take any casual look up a notch! They’re comfortable and classy. I have them in Chocolate Leopard Haircalf…they add the perfect spice to any look!
  • Natalie Sling– This is a feminine spin on the Natalie Flat. I have them in Gold Saffiano and they are GORGEOUS!!
  • Perfect Zip Bootie– These are just as comfortable as the Perfect Pump and Perfect Block Sandal…you can wear them for hours! They are so versatile, stylish, and comfy.
Sarah Flint Favorites

Save 15% with this discount code: SARAHFLINT-CCJOELLEN1

Whether or not you buy fast or slow fashion, commit to being more intentional with what you buy. Focus on building a closet that you love! Build a closet with high quality timeless pieces that you will wear and love for years. Check out my top 10 investments from last year!

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About the Author

JoEllen is a licensed aesthetician, certified makeup artist, and certified John Maxwell coach, speaker, and trainer. She works with women helping them look and feel confident. She loves teaching women simple beauty techniques so they can feel empowered to try it at home. Her motto is that when you look and feel good, you do good!

Fast Fashion Versus Sustainable Fashion

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase an item featured in this post, I get a small portion from the sale. Thank you! It does not affect you at all.

Fast Fashion Versus Sustainable Fashion