Swap SheIn cheap fast-fashion disposable clothing for ethical and sustainable slow-fashion brands

Karen Madej

Ethical slow fashion companies like Patagonia and Pact Apparel have been planet-friendly for decades! The Good Trade lists 35 Fair Trade & Ethical Clothing Brands. Let's look at some of the reasons you might like to consider buying from them and other sustainable slow-fashion brands.

Fast fashion

According to Dana Thomas, author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, unethical clothing manufacturing doesn’t just happen in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and China. It’s a booming business in Los Angeles, too. Overworked, underpaid, and sometimes not paid, greedy sweatshop owners treat undocumented workers like slaves.

The garment industry searches for the cheapest market. One of the stocks and shares experts from an investment fund that holds part of my pension refuses to touch all fast fashion investment opportunities. He considers them unethical and believes people will see through the facade soon enough.

Even faster fashion

One particular company to mention, Zara, allegedly takes top designers’ latest creations and copies them. Within two weeks, fashionistas can buy the latest on-trend item of clothing. Zara does this 24 times a year. This company is rated: Not good enough, by good on you.

How Fast Fashion Is Destroying the Planet and What do Gen Z shoppers want? A Cute, Cheap Outfit that Looks Great on Instagram headlines from the NY Times get the message across clearly.

Investopedia lists the major players in the fast-fashion market, including Zara, H&M Group, UNIQLO, GAP, Forever 21, Topshop, Esprit, Primark, Fashion Nova, and New Look. Gen Zs are torn between buying cheap but the latest trend and wanting to save the planet. Most of what the fast-fashion players make is cheap, plastic, throw-away clothing.

Zara and other fast fashion shops that sell disposable clothing have mastered the art of selling out of items and replacing them with new designs every week. Superfast fashion retailers do this 52 weeks of the year. They trained their customers to immediately buy something they like rather than miss their chance. Young people will keep coming back for more items they can wear once (maybe twice) and forget about.

California hosts 25 branches of Zara, 25% of the 98 total US retail outlets. But there’s a new rock bottom retailer on the block. SHEIN has taken over the kingpin position in the US — their prices so low their clothes are considered disposable.

If you were under the impression that all Gen Zs supported Greta Thunberg, you and I would be wrong, as reported in The Guardian’s ‘Worst of the worst’: why is fast fashion retailer Shein launching a reality show?

“I think there are many who are deeply concerned about sustainability while at the same time feeling pressured, even obliged, to keep refreshing their wardrobes on a weekly basis.” Laura Bravo, author of How To Break Up With Fast Fashion

No company can sell items at impossible prices if they care about people, animals, and the environment. How Ethical Is SHEIN? written by Isobella Wolf for good on you rates the company as We Avoid. Thankfully, good on you also shares some ethical alternatives for the US market. You can also use their app to check out the company you want to buy from or look them up on their Directory.

It’s fair to say Zara and SheIn have made cheap, top designer fashions available to all. Not just the rich. However, those £19.99 items over 52 weeks cost £1,039.48. Instead, fashion-conscious folks could buy some expensive but classic high-quality items that will last years. We don’t need more plastic products decomposing for hundreds of years in landfills.


The US has online and physical consignment shops. Places where you can drop off an item for them to sell. If it sells, you will receive between 30-80% of the sale price. Many of these shops and eBay customers look for gently used designer clothing and accessories; these are excellent incentives to invest in more expensive but high-quality clothing.

Thrift shops offer great opportunities to rummage through hangers and pick up good quality secondhand clothes. In the UK charity shops, you can also find new clothes donated by top high street brands instead of previously burning or throwing away unsold deadstock.

Even before the pandemic, companies such as H&M revealed they had $4.3 billion worth of unsold clothes in 2018. SOPHIE MELLOR

Now brands like Burberry, previously criticized for burning unsold (dead)stock, discount their season overstock and sell it to outlets, staff, charity shops, and recycle items.

If you enjoy making your clothing, Queen of Raw offers gorgeous deadstock fabrics for sale all over the world at cool prices.

Deadstock Official caters to vintage and streetwear tastes and feature Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Champion, and many more brands, including Burberry.

An ethical slow fashion company like Patagonia has been planet-friendly for decades! It even offers a selection of worn wear where you can trade-in your worn Patagonia items. You could get $10 for kidswear and $100 for your old outerwear. Zero Waste Memoirs places Patagonia at number 22 in their 40 Affordable Ethical Clothing Brands From Around the Globe. In the USA top spot: Pact Apparel. Their trademark Earth’s Favorite For Everyone:

Made with Organic Cotton in a Fair Trade Factory

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.


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