Is Uniqlo Fast Fashion?
Uniqlo is a Japanese business casual shop, manufacturer, and retailer. Its well-known clothing brand offers basics for men, women, and children. Uniqlo stands for “Unique Clothing Warehouse”. Tokyo-based Fast Retailing took over the company in 2002.
The marketing of premium textiles like wool or linen and the brand’s own sustainability page provides the idea that it is acting sustainably.
We’ll take a closer look today to see if Uniqlo is truly as sustainable as they claim, and then we’ll ask the all-important question: Uniqlo: Is it fast fashion?
Its commitment to reducing its carbon impact, water consumption, and waste, among other things, makes it more environmentally friendly than some other major fashion chains, but still far from ethical and sustainable.
Today we will take a close look at what makes the brand tick, whether it uses animal products, where they have made its clothes, what non-fast fashion alternatives there are, or if Uniqlo can be counted among them with its extraordinary commitment.
Table of Contents
What Do Fast Fashion Brands Do?
Fast fashion refers to brands that produce large quantities of clothing throughout the year and release large quantities of new collections and pieces on a weekly – if not daily – basis.
In doing so, these brands produce clothing at very low prices that are considered attractive opportunities for many consumers. But under the high price of poor working and environmental conditions and release of toxic chemicals, high water consumption, as well as many other dramatic disadvantages.
This allows consumers to update their wardrobes very quickly and inexpensively, leading to overconsumption and causing that for every two fast-fashion pieces purchased, in reality only one is worn. The other is disposed of – without having been worn once.
Is Uniqlo Fast Fashion? 4 Reasons for it
1. Higher Prices ≠ More Sustainable Production
As it positions itself as an “everyday high-quality brand” and seeks to use numerous high-quality materials in its products, Uniqlo has steadily increased its prices in recent years.
It doesn’t, however, indicate that Uniqlo has become more sustainable or employs a more ecologically friendly manufacturing process just because some items cost more, or simply because they are made of higher quality materials.
There are still plenty of products in the range that are of poor quality and whose low costs are obviously intended for a younger target market.
Higher prices in this case don’t necessarily mean better practices, just a bigger profit margin for them, and they can position themselves as an “everyday high-quality brand” because people are willing to pay those higher prices.
This has nothing to do with sustainability and fair working conditions!
2. Huge Amount of New Styles Every Week
If you look at the sheer volume of new styles Uniqlo launches every week, it says a lot about their production cycle.
Their sustainability page is vague and littered with greenwashing terms rather than filled with real facts.
3. Oodles of Synthetic Materials
As for the fibers, tons of synthetic materials are used (polyester, acetate, “vegan leather”) and viscose without TENCEL.
However, we could also find references that some garments include eco-friendly materials with Tencel among others.
Moreover, it isn’t really explained what “100% organic cotton” means, which would nevertheless infer inferior working conditions or long transport routes.
Summary – Is Uniqlo Fast Fashion?
Uniqlo does sometimes use environmentally friendly materials, such as Tencel, but there is no evidence that they have taken effective measures to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals.
The use of environmentally friendly materials alone doesn’t mean that they have been processed under ethical and sustainable circumstances. The bleaching of clothing, for example, releases large amounts of toxic substances, and workers suffer as a result.
Moreover, to date, there is no clear evidence that Uniqlo minimizes textile waste in the manufacture of its products.
In addition, the brand doesn’t provide consistent evidence that they have actively reduced their carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chain or plan to do so in the future.
Your Position as a Consumer – Is Uniqlo Fast Fashion?
Ultimately, you can’t buy sustainability. The most sustainable choice is to use what you already have. A new purchase always presupposes that water and other resources have been used – not to mention the working conditions under which people in third-world countries – including children – had to work for the garment.
We as consumers should always make the best possible choice when it comes to our purchasing decisions. After all, through our demand, we contribute to where we are headed socially and which companies will still be around 10 years from now.
I like to compare a purchase to buying a share of that company – by buying from the brand, we are ensuring its survival and helping it to continue to grow. So the question we should always ask ourselves: Do I really want these companies to last, or would I rather put my money into new, innovative implementations that offer me, for example, more sustainable manufacturing for the same money?
BUT: The companies are the ones that ultimately have to stop greenwashing and actually put in the work and money to bring about change. And that’s often the point: most companies aren’t willing to put that money where their mouth is and invest it in more sustainable production and working conditions because it doesn’t promise them a direct increase in sales and, on the contrary, is more likely to cut into their profit margins.
What Can/Should We Do?
The best thing we can do as consumers is to use what we already have and shop with intention, not buying in excess.
And when we do want to part with something, we should make sure we don’t just throw it all away to be recycled. Most donated clothing ends up in landfills in third-world countries because we don’t have the capacity here to dispose of it.
So it would be best if you could resell the garment.
At the end of the day, we consumers can do a lot, but the companies and the systems really need to do something.
Does Uniqlo Use Animal Products?
The brand continues to use wool, leather, exotic animal hair, and down certified by the Responsible Down Standard. However, no fur, angora, or exotic animal skins are used. Some animal products are traced back to the first stage of production.
Are Uniqlo Clothes Made in China & Where are The Clothes Made?
Yes, Uniqlo has production mainly in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India and has no factories of its own.
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