Clothing rack in room next to potted plant
Lifestyle Sustainability

The Link Between Fast Fashion and Feminism

Fast fashion and feminism; on the surface these don’t seem to have much in common. What do the clothes someone wears have to do with a social movement?

Fast fashion stores that we all know and love, H&M, Forever 21, Topshop, etc., all outsource their production to developing countries.

Why do they do this? It’s cost effective. They pay less for labor and materials, therefore are able to mass produce clothing for the mainstream market at a fraction of the cost.

These conditions garment workers are in is abhorrent. From hazardous working conditions, to working overtime, earning far less than a living wage, and experiencing harassment and abuse in the workplace. Yet this is somehow still legal despite its obvious unethical practices.

So that $10 girl power t-shirt might not be so feminist after all.

Photo from The New York Times

The Rana Plaza Collapse

One of the biggest tragedies the fashion industry has had to face was the Rana Plaza collapse.

On April 24th, 2013, the Rana Plaza building, an eight-story commercial building used for clothing factories, located in Bangladesh, collapsed. This accident caused at least 1100 deaths and more than 2500 injuries, mostly of  women and young girls, which sparked outrage on the poor conditions these garment workers were subjected to.


Related: These Sustainable and Vegan Leather Brands are Changing the Future of Fashion


Just the day before, workers complained about the sounds coming from the cracks of the building, but were forced to continue working inside, despite the obvious safety hazard.

The environment for these workers were terrible. It has been said that they made as little as 45 cents an hour in inhumane conditions. Along with that, many female workers in Bangladesh, have reported not having access to healthcare, and 60% having experienced verbal and physical violence at work.

What has been done since then?

Since the 2013 tragedy, the idea of factory safety being only a Western luxury shifted. And a new agreement was signed, called the Accord on Fire and Building and Safety in Bangladesh, which states factories must be inspected to meet basic safety criteria.

It’s a positive step in the right direction, but it isn’t perfect. But what can we do as consumers?


Related: What Is Online Activism


Ethical Fashion

Making big waves in the fashion industry are slow fashion brands trying to lessen the unethical and unsustainable impacts that fast fashion has on our society. Slow fashion is the ethical approach to fashion. They value high quality materials that are better for the environment, as well as the fair treatment of their employees.

There are so many resources online. Personally, one of my favorite places to learn about slow fashion has been The Good Trade. They offer a ton of style guides and tips on stepping into the world of sustainability.

Another great place is Pinterest. Pinterest is a goldmine for finding articles, style guides, and OOTD’s dedicated to slow fashion.

Besides slow fashion brands, there is the option of thrifting. Not only is thrifting more affordable, but you are also saving some awesome clothing pieces from being thrown out. You can of course thrift in person, as well as online at websites such as Depop and Thredup. Thrifting is a great option for an ethical girl on a budget.

Just do a quick Google search on slow fashion to see what you can find!

So the next time you’re browsing the racks of Forever 21, keep in mind where those clothes came from. Fast fashion and feminism are intertwined. As consumers and feminists we can do our part to vote with our dollar.

No one is perfect, (I’m sure not), but cutting back on fast fashion through thrifting or supporting slow fashion brands, is a great step in the right direction!

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Photo by tu tu on Unsplash and Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash


  1. This was such a fascinating post! I had heard of the horrible working conditions, but I would never have thought to tie them to feminism in the way that you did. Great idea! Thank you for your resources about slow fashion. I have never heard of this term, and it sounds like an amazing cause! I try to buy a lot of my clothes at thrift stores, but I want to be more aware about supporting companies that deserve to be supported! Thanks for the post!

  2. The Bangladesh incident was horrific. You made great point about the $10 shirt girl power t-shirt. Slow fashion is so necessary -there’s so much we can do to better the lives of people who work in deplorable conditions. I’m all for slow living too, anything to help the planet. xx

  3. This was such a great post! I remember when that building collapsed. It was horrific and so sad. I’ve been wanting to look into slow fashion, and you’ve given me some great places to start. I’d hate to think my clothes were made by someone who was severely underpaid, working in horrible conditions. No item of clothing is worth that! Thank you for writing such an informative post!!

    Emily |

    1. I’m so glad you found those resources helpful! And it’s definitely a learning curve getting into buying ethically, (something that I’m still learning about to this day), but I believe being aware of it is a great first step. Thank you for reading!

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