How Zara Created Fast Fashion as We Know It

I shopped at Zara almost every week before I joined the #FashionRevolution. This week they announced that they're going sustainable.


Here’s why I still won’t buy from them.

zara created fast fashion. here’s how.


this week the fast fashion favourite announced that it’s going to slow down.


Now Zara have announced that they’re going sustainable. Let’s discuss.

In the conscious fashion movement, the terms ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are often used interchangeably, as if they’re synonymous. But they’re far from it, and Zara’s announcement is the perfect example of this.

In an interview with Vogue published earlier this week, three key Zara executives discussed their ‘commitment’ to sustainability by outlining their goals over the next few years, which focus on producing more garments which incorporate eco-conscious materials. Of course, any effort to minimise the fast fashion industry’s impact on the planet is a move in the right direction, but there are limitations if your business is not only built on fast fashion culture, but created it.

production volume

Designer Simon Psaric comments on the brand’s move towards ( marketing ) with sustainability in mind:


When I walk in [to a showroom] to see a fabric collection, my first question is: Which are the most sustainable, environmentally conscious fabrics? This attitude pushes the suppliers to prioritize sustainable developments. For instance, a trim supplier just recently approached me with a beautiful collection of biodegradable buttons made from corn.

Let’s be honest: it’s going to be near impossible to be hugely sustainable if you continue to produce thousands of styles every year in such huge quantities, even if some of the buttons used are made out of corn.


But it isn’t these executives and designers that are going to be producing these garments. I don’t know who’s producing them. In fact, neither does Zara.


lack of respect for employees

Now don’t get me wrong - I’m sure Stacey, Zara Oxford Street’s sales assistant, is paid minimum wage and gets a half hour lunch break. The issue is with the employees that Zara pretends it isn’t responsible for…


Zara pays factories to make their clothes. some of these factories’ employees don’t have the skills for certain aspects of the clothing construction, so they hire external makers. This is known as ‘subcontracting’, and is very common in the world of fast fashion.

In 2013, Zara was fined after sweatshop activity was discovered in one of the subcontracted factories producing their clothes; some of the workers were as young as fourteen years old. Zara said that they had no idea that their clothes were being produced in subcontracted factories ( not a great start babes ) , and went on to refuse any responsibility. Proof was soon found that they were, in fact, aware of the activity at this subcontracted factory.

Armando Ortega allegedly earns over $400 million in dividends every year. An employee making his brand’s clothing can earn around $30 per month.

so what can we do about this?

support the organisations that support the workers in the way that their employers should.

Here are just some of the wonderful organisations out there and a bit about how they define their mission:

fashion revolution | @fash_rev

We are Fashion Revolution. We are designers, producers, makers, workers and consumers. We are academics, writers, business leaders, brands, retailers, trade unions and policymakers. We are the industry and the public. We are world citizens. We are a movement and a community. We are you.

We love fashion. But we don’t want our clothes to exploit people or destroy our planet. We demand radical, revolutionary change.

Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. We want to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way.


clean clothes campaign | @cleanclothescampaign

Clean Clothes Campaign is a global alliance dedicated to improving working conditions and empowering workers in the global garment and sportswear industries. Since 1989, CCC has worked to ensure that the fundamental rights of workers are respected. We educate and mobilise consumers, lobby companies and governments, and offer direct solidarity support to workers as they fight for their rights and demand better working conditions.


labour behind the label | @labourbehindthelabel

Labour Behind the Label is a campaign that works to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. Labour Behind the Label believes that no-one should live in poverty for the price of a cheap t-shirt; that a living wage is a basic human right, as is working without fear for your life. We are committed to making these ideals a reality in the garment industry.


fairtrade uk | @fairtradeuk

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

With Fairtrade you have the power to change the world every day. With simple shopping choices you can get farmers a better deal. And that means they can make their own decisions, control their future and lead the dignified life everyone deserves.


boycott these brands. no trend is worth the pain that they’re causing.