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A Complete List of 25 Fast Fashion Brands to Avoid and Why

In the age of social media, it’s all too easy to find ourselves being influenced by our peers, as well as celebrities and models.

The result of all of this is the fast creation of new trends, which appear in our favorite stores at lightning-quick speed.

And the clothes are so cheap to buy, we often find ourselves picking up an item we love in every single color.

What are Fast Fashion Brands?

Fast fashion describes low-cost designs that are quickly transferred from the catwalk to clothing stores.

Years ago, there were four fashion ‘trend seasons’ per year, to coincide with the actual seasons.

But nowadays, different trends are introduced much more often – sometimes two or three times per month.

So, how can you spot fast fashion brands? Here are four of the main fast fashion signs:

  • Are they quick to release clothes after a trend is seen on the catwalk or modeled by a celebrity or social media influencer?

  • Are their clothes produced in big factories where workers are paid unfair wages?

  • Do you feel pressured to buy their clothing due to limited availability?

  • Are the clothes made from cheap, poor quality materials?

Want to find out if your favorite clothing brand or store sells fast fashion?

Read on to find out more about the key culprits, here are 25 fast fashion brands to avoid and why:

Biggest Fast Fashion Brands


fast fashion brand

Uniqlo

This is a Japanese brand that offers casual clothing. They operate in Japan and other international markets

Why shouldn’t you shop there? Uniqlo has been hit by a number of controversies in recent years.

In 2015, several labor rights violations were reported from one of their suppliers in China.

In 2016, it was alleged that Uniqlo still expected staff to work “excessive overtime” for low rates of pay, in dangerous conditions that had a culture of bullying and harassment.

Stradivarius

This Spanish brand sells women’s clothing. It was developed back in 1994, but in 1999 they were taken over by the Inditex group.

They have over 900 stores worldwide and have been described as Zara’s trendy little sister’.

Keep reading and you’ll see the name Inditex’ mentioned many times.

They are a company that has been plagued by accusations of poor working conditions and unfair wages.

Topshop

Originally known as Top Shop, this multinational fashion brand sells clothes, footwear, cosmetics and accessories.

There are 500 Topshop outlets in the world, including 300 in the UK.

It’s part of Arcadia Group Ltd. which also owns other high street clothing retailers including Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Burton and out-of-town retailer Outfit.

Why should you avoid them?

On more than one occasion, they’ve shown they are willing to prioritize profit over their people, with workers often being treated unfairly.

Primark

Known as Penney’s in the Republic of Ireland, Primark is an Irish fashion retailer with headquarters in Dublin.

They sell clothes for all age groups, including baby and toddler wear.

Unlike some of the other fast fashion stores, they also sell homeware and confectionery.

There are over 350 stores in 12 countries around the world.

Reasons not to buy from them?

Back in June 2014, labels stitched with SOS messages were found in items bought from a store in Swansea.

Primark denied any wrongdoing and branded these messages a hoax, but how can we be sure?

Especially when in June 2014, a customer from Ireland found another SOS note from a Chinese prison which alleged prisoners were made to work ‘like oxen’ for 15 hours a day.

Rip Curl

This retailer designs and makes surfing sportswear (aka board wear).

They’re also a major sponsor in the world of athletics.

They have shops worldwide, including 61 in Australia & New Zealand, 29 in North America and 55 in Europe.

Why should you avoid them? Their workshop is in North Korea and they’ve been accused of modern slavery.

USA Fast Fashion Brands

Victoria’s Secret

An American designer, creator, and marketer of lingerie, women’s clothing, and beauty items.

This is the biggest retailer of lingerie in the USA.

Reasons not to buy from them?

Too many to list.

They include formaldehyde lawsuits, child labor, allegations of transphobia, sexual harassment of their models…

Urban Outfitters

Targeted at young adults, UO offers clothing, footwear, beauty products, active wear & equipment, home ware and music including vinyl and cassettes.

Why should you avoid them?

Their staff aren’t paid a living wage (they have even been caught asking staff to work for free on weekends – in the US!

So imagine what they might be doing in countries without much in the way of employment laws?)

They still use A LOT of synthetic fabrics, too.



fast fashion brand 1

GUESS

As well as fashion for men and women GUESS also sells accessories including jewelry, watches, and fragrances.

Reasons not to buy from them?

Back in the 1980s, GUESS’s image was damaged after they made headlines due to allegations of sweatshop labor.

And in the early nineties, GUESS was revealed to have failed to pay their staff the minimum wage.

Instead of facing court proceedings, they chose to pay over $500k out as backpay to the staff affected.

In 2009, Gucci accused them of trademark infringement and tried to sue GUESS for $221 million.

In the end, they received $4.7 million.

GAP

This is an American worldwide retailer for clothing and accessories.

Their headquarters are in San Francisco.

They have over 3500 stores worldwide, with around 2400 in the US alone.

Why shouldn’t you shop here?

They’ve had more than their fair share of labor controversies.

In the past they’ve hit the headlines for not paying their staff for overtime, subjecting employees to forced abortion and unsafe working conditions.

During May 2006, employees of one of GAP’s suppliers revealed they had been working over 100 hours per week and they hadn’t been paid for six months.

Some staff even accused the management of sexual misconduct.

By May 2018, GAP had ended their business relationship with this supplier (Western Factory).

Fashion Nova

This company is based in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

They have five retail locations in Southern California.

In 2018, they were the number 1 most-searched for fashion brand on Google.

Much of their success comes down to their strong social media presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Reasons not to buy from them?

While the clothes might be cheap, you get what you pay for – the quality is very poor.

UK Fast Fashion Brands

Boohoo

This is an online-only retailer, aimed at customers aged between 16 and 30.

They offer a range of products including own-brand garments.

There are over 36,000 products on offer at any one time.

Why should you avoid them?

In 2018, they were named and shamed in Parliament for selling £5 dresses of such poor quality, charity shops wouldn’t be willing to resell them.

They were also criticized for encouraging the UK’s throwaway clothes culture.

Pretty Little Thing

Owned by Boohoo Group, this UK-based fashion brand is aimed at 14-24-year-old women.

Their main headquarters are in Manchester, UK, but they have offices in London and Los Angeles too.

Reasons not to buy from them?

Earlier in 2019, they were accused of removing labels from cheaper branded clothing and re-selling as their own – for double the price.

For example, one customer claimed she had bought a pair of jogging bottoms for £20.

When they arrived, they had a PLT label stitched into the seam, but she found the remains of a Fruit of the Loom (very cheap, basic clothing brand) label on the other side.

They also seem to ‘recycle’ ranges when it comes to celebrity-endorsed lines.

Ex-Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague launched ‘her’ range – but customers insisted it had already been available on the website for some time.

New Look

This is one of the original UK fast fashion brands. They first opened in 1969 as a single fashion store.

Nowadays, they’re a global chain with 895 stores around the world.

Why should you avoid shopping there?

In 2018, New Look had some financial difficulties, so they said they would be cutting their prices.

But to do so, they must have been cutting corners somewhere.

Plus, they still use animal products like leather, down, and exotic animal fur.

Missguided

This is a UK-based, multi-channel brand that sells clothes to appeal to women aged 16-35.

They have ranges to suit all shapes and sizes, including tall, petite, and plus size.

Recently, they’ve launched a menswear brand, ‘Mennace’.

Reasons to avoid buying from them?

In 2017, it was found that the brand had illegally used fur from cats, raccoon dogs, and rabbits in the production of shoes.

And in 2019, they hit the headlines for selling a £1 bikini while ‘celebrating ten years of empowering women’.

We’re pretty sure women working in their factories don’t feel very empowered working for less than £1 per day.

Peacocks

This brand is now part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group.

They have over 400 Peacocks shops in the UK and more than 200 stores located in Europe.

When they first opened, they sold home goods and essential clothing.

These days, they’ve re-branded as a ‘value fashion store’.

Why shouldn’t you shop there?

More of the same. Poor quality clothing, low paid staff.

Oh, and in 2018 they sold an ‘inflatable perfect women’ described as ‘sexy’ and ‘nag free’.

Pretty misogynistic if you ask us.

European Fast Fashion Brands

Mango

This brand offers women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing collections.

Their biggest market is in Spain, but Istanbul in Turkey has the highest number of Mango stores.

Why should you avoid them?

In 2013, an eight-story commercial building in Bangladesh collapsed.

It housed several garment factories, shops, and a bank, employing about 5000 people.

The collapse led to the death of over 1000 people and leftover 2400 injured.

Out of the 29 brands which were identified as using products from the factories, only 9 attended meetings to agree to compensation for the victims.

Mango wasn’t one of them.

Oysho

This Spanish clothing retailer specializes in homeware and women’s underwear.

Their headquarters are in Catalonia and they have 650 stores around the world – 190 of which are in Spain.

Should you avoid them?

Yes. More low quality, cheap garments made by staff working in questionable environments.

Massimo Dutti

Although it sounds Italian, this is a Spanish company.

Originally, they sold men’s clothing, but they now sell women’s and children’s clothes, plus a range of perfumes.

They have 781 stores across 75 different countries.

Why shouldn’t you shop here?

They’re owned by Inditex Group (need we say more) and they sell cheap, low-quality clothing that only serves to fuel the throwaway society.


fast fashion brand 2

H&M

Did you know this stands for Hennes & Mauritz? No? Well, now you do!

This is a Swedish multinational retail company which sells fashion products for adults and children.

With over 3,500 stores in 57 countries, this is the second biggest global clothing retailer.

Reasons not to buy from them?

Their staff receives low wages – and the company has also been accused of ‘copying models from high-end brands’.

Zara

This Spanish clothing retailer offers fast-fashion products for adults and children, including clothing, shoes, accessories, swimwear, perfume, and beauty products.

In 2017, they offered 20 clothing collections, with around 12,000 designs being sold each year.

Rumor has it that Zara only needs a week to design and produce a new product and get it into stores.

The industry average? Six months.

That’s what we mean by fast fashion.

Zara has over 2000 stores in almost 100 different countries.

Why should you avoid them?

They’ve been accused of subjecting workers in Brazil to slave-like working conditions.

Most Popular Fast Fashion Brands

fast fashion brand 3

Adidas

Also known as “the three stripes company”, Adidas was founded in Germany.

They design and make footwear, clothes, and accessories.

They’re the biggest manufacturer of sportswear in Europe and come second only to Nike when it comes to international manufacturers.

Reasons to avoid buying from them?

Well, when it comes to labor conditions and sustainability, they don’t fare too badly.

But they are still producing a large number of fashion garments – and most of them are not made using sustainable materials.

Plus, they still use animal products like wool, down, and leather in the creation of their products.

ASOS

This brand name is an acronym of “as seen on screen”.

They are a British online-only retailer selling fashion products and cosmetics.

They sell more than 850 brands plus their own brand items.

They ship products to 196 countries and have a popular mobile shopping app.

They found themselves under scrutiny in 2019 after posting an image on social media depicting one of their models wearing a dress held together with bulldog’ clips.

Many of their followers said doing things like this would have a huge impact on youngsters battling body image issues and questioned why they didn’t just:

a) find a model to fit the dress

b) find a dress to fit the model.

HOT TOPIC

This retail chain sells clothes and accessories influenced by popular culture.

Primarily, their products are aimed at people who are interested in gaming and rock music.

They’ve sponsored a number of music events such as Ozzfest, Sounds of the Underground, and the Taste of Chaos tour.

Why should you avoid them? They offer more of the same – poor quality garments which don’t last.

Shein

This online retailer offers clothing, beauty products, and accessories for men, women, and kids.

They also offer a plus-size range.

Reasons not to buy from them?

Like many other companies, they take images from high-end fashion retailers. Then they try to reproduce these items as cheaply as possible.

But what you end up receiving rarely looks anything like the picture you saw on the website.

Needless to say, they’ve found themselves in a lot of trouble for copyright infringement and reproducing photos of influencers and celebrities without permission.

Oh, and they don’t give much away about their impact on animals and our world.

Nasty Gal

This online retailer sells women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Once again, they don’t tell consumers much about the impact their operations have on the planet, animals, and humans.

How to Avoid Fast Fashion

There is nothing wrong with wanting to buy a new outfit and the prices can seem enticing.

But while fast fashion might seem cheap, there is a fast fashion environmental impact, so it comes at a cost.

Looking for ways to avoid fast fashion? Try our tips:

Buy from sustainable clothing brands

There are plenty out there, including:sustainable brands fast fashion

Beya Made

Made Trade

Tamga Designs

Neu Nomads

Don’t buy so much ‘stuff’.

Even the most ethical fashion retailers make some kind of environmental footprint.

If buying clothes makes you happy, try to find something else to bring you joy instead.

Look for better quality clothing

When you do decide to buy, run a few quick tests to check the quality.

Look at the stitching, hold it up to a bright light to check it’s not see-through, make sure zippers are marked with “YKK” and check if there are any spare buttons or thread attached.

It won’t take you long and is a great way to make sure you’re spending your hard-earned cash wisely.

Shop in thrift stores or charity shops

Or check out the listings on eBay. You might even find a bargain!

Share and swap clothes with friends

Got a friend or family member who wears the same size as you?

Consider buying garments you can share.

You’ll cut your own costs as well as reducing your environmental impact.

Rent clothes for special occasions

If you need a cocktail dress or ball gown, why not think about hiring one?

Chances are, you’ll only be wearing it once anyway.

Have you got a favorite “slow” fashion brand? Let us know in the comments.

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References & Further Reading

Wikipedia

VOX

NY TIMES

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fast fashion

Rebecca

15 thoughts on “A Complete List of 25 Fast Fashion Brands to Avoid and Why

  1. Makes for a shocking and eye opening read really doesn’t it?

    Difficult to know where to buy from though, as like most people my kids grow at an alarming rate so it is difficult to find a sustainable and affordable way to clothe them without bankrupting ourselves.

    That said I appreciate that low cost clothes come at a high price to the world and it’s workers x

  2. Thank you for putting this list together. This is why it’s so important to focus on a wardrobe of quality over having piece after piece of the latest trends.

  3. I did not know that about Gap and Zara! I do love Old Navy/Gap/J Crew but I will now be picking other clothing companies that treat their employees better! Thank you for this post!! Other GREAT sustainable companies are Tribe Kelley and ABLE.

  4. How should I treat clothes I already bought in these places? (pretty sure it is the case for everybody before learning about fast fashion) Throwing them away would just fuel the dumping of clothes, and it won’t be ideal…… Keeping them seems like against the ethnic wardrobe idea, it’s something I think about every once in a while. What are your suggestions?

    1. That’s a great question Lucy. Maybe you can consider donating them or giving them to friends or families in need? I wouldn’t worry too much about what you already have or feel too guilty about it, given that this is something we are all becoming more aware of with time.

  5. Thank you for informative post. You have explained in a proper manner that why should we avoid 25 fast fashion brands. Different fast fashion brands are available in the market should avoid.

  6. This article really hit home for me, I used to buy fast fashion constantly, not only because I love shopping, but I was buying poor quality for cheap. I took all of my clothes and sent them to thredup, I used the money earned to buy quality clothing secondhand. Most are new with tags or in excellent condition. I’m so happy now because my clothes fit better look better and I feel like I’m at least doing my part by recycling and buying recycled. ThredUp has some great threads for good prices! Thank you for this article I’m going to make sure I share it!

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