Is Fashion Nova Fast Fashion? Why This Brand Is An Ethical And Environmental Disaster
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer editorial intern Alexandra Speck. Find her on Instagram at @alexandraspeckk. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fashion Nova is a fashion retailer primarily popular among young women for its expansive collection of wildly affordable clothing. Boasting swimwear starting at just $3 and jeans beginning at $12, the site seems like a perfect resource for everyone shopping on a budget. Fashion Nova is comparable to Shein for its low prices and questionable quality and – like Shein – is now facing backlash for its intensely unethical business model. Why is Fashion Nova fast fashion? Read ahead to understand why many are now boycotting the brand.
What is fast fashion, and should we avoid it?
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Fast fashion refers to fast-paced, high-volume clothing production and consumption. These products are often sold at incredibly low prices that entice shoppers. However, the low prices are attributable to blatant human rights violations. Fast fashion brands are culpable for underpaying garment workers and permitting unthinkably poor working conditions as a means of cutting production costs.
Fast fashion is also condemned for its unsustainable environmental impact. Extensively marketing these low-cost items encourages overconsumption of microtrends, creating landfill waste when the fad expires. In other words, when the poor-quality, highly “trendy” items break or fall out of fashion, wearers will often toss them after just a few months of use. Good On You, a journal that specializes in environmental awareness and eco-friendly shopping advice, explains why fast fashion brands cause great harm to the planet. The “synthetic fibers” – like polyester – used in most fast fashion pieces require more water and fossil fuel energy in their production processes than natural alternatives. Every step of the fast fashion production process results in needless pollution, culminating in overseas shipping – an industry that produces a whopping 2.5% of our total carbon dioxide emissions.
What’s the problem with Fashion Nova?
A quick pass through the Fashion Nova website offers enough information to classify it as a fast fashion brand. Unethical labor practices are the only explanation for the exceptionally low prices. The sheer quantity of items for sale also indicates an issue with their labor practices. What brand has the resources to ethically offer everything from wedding gowns to hiking gear?
Over 600 new items are available on Fashion Nova every week. These incessant microtrends prompt shoppers to buy and throw away clothing at rapid rates. Social media marketing is used to attract new shoppers.
There’s no concrete evidence that Fashion Nova uses child labor to produce its clothing, but the brand is not forthcoming about its labor policies and the conditions in its Los Angeles-based sweatshops. No ethical brand would have these transparency issues. The degree to which Fashion Nova is exploiting its workers is reflected in financial data; from 2016 through 2019, the United States Labor Department found that factories producing Fashion Nova products owed a total of “$3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of workers.”
What are the alternatives to shopping fast fashion?
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Fast fashion may seem like the most obvious option for procuring trendy clothing at low price points, but it’s certainly not the only one.
Thrifting is a prime resource. Rather than buying “y2K” pieces from Fashion Nova, search your local thrift store for items actually produced in the early 2000s. (They’ll be higher quality, too.)
Outside the fast fashion sphere, it’s very possible to find brands that are upfront about their policies and codes of ethics. Find some of our recommendations here.
Prioritize quality over quantity. Keeping a small closet of timeless pieces is a great way to reduce your overall consumption over decades. Your style, wallet, and Earth will thank you.
However, note that it’s impossible to be a perfectly conscientious shopper. Any purchase will always produce some small environmental impact. If there is a particular Fashion Nova piece that you envision using for many years and that fits your budget, it’s certainly not a crime to buy it. It’s large clothing hauls – and subsequent dumping of “dated” clothing a short time later – that are true causes for concern.
Is Fashion Nova fast fashion? What are your favorite alternative brands? Let us know in the comments below!