Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion Summary

5 Must-See Fast Fashion Documentaries | Shop Ethical and Organic Apparel  for Kids
Documentary Film by Alex James

Film Synopsis: 

Alex James, Blur bassist turned cheese maker, presents this critical look at our disposable approach to clothing and it’s enormous human and environmental cost. Far from predicting the apocalypse, Slowing Down Fast Fashion seeks to provide solutions. By talking to designers, activists and high street brands, the film shows that there is a wide ranging and ever growing thirst for change. (IMDB,

Documentary Summary

English musician Alex James became familiar with the term “fast fashion” during his days on tour. Rockstars are constantly being sent new clothing, with no addression of the environmental factors. James found this outrageous and began avoiding Fast Fashion from the beginning, by negotiating whether new pants and socks were necessary. The first step to solving a problem, is acknowledging that you are part of it, as he did. With that, he began his exploration of fast fashion.

He began by explaining that the answer to the problem is hypothesizing positive action. The first thing we have to do, is ask ourselves these 5 questions:

  • How can it be so cheap?
  • What is it made of?
  • Who made it?
  • How long will you wear it?
  • Where will it end up?

Clothes are disposable. They are not created with the intention to last a lifetime. However, Fast Fashion rarely lasts one season. Before the introduction of fast fashion, there were 4 clothing seasons in one year. Now, there are 52, with new styles coming out every week. Fast fashion clothing cannot even sustain a short lifetime.

50% of clothing we own ends up in landfills (washington post), and 80% of what we wear is made up of petroleum- which is non-degradable. Throwing clothes in landfills is a unsustainable option. After asking yourself questions before purchase, it is also important to come with a knowledge of clothes you intend on wearing. 

Researching provenance is important, because it gives a better understanding of the clothes that you will purchase.

The documentary shows a slip where Alex directs the viewer to a “Keep away from fire” tag on a garment. He then performs an experiment to show the difference between acrylic and wool. He chose two identical sweaters, one acrylic and one made from wool, and set them both on fire. The acrylic sweater automatically caught fire, melted and stuck to the floor. The wool sweater began to burn but it did not catch fire. This shows the difference between the quality, and while the acrylic would have been cheaper, it’s quality was terrible. This highlights the importance of focusing on fabrics and materials which are good quality. This will not only keep you safer in such situations, but also will have a better financial outcome for the buyer in the long run. Rather than being forced to purchase new clothes every week as a result of cheap quality, you will get more out of your money by spending it on clothing with longer lives. 

The bottom line is the question, what can we do about it? 

Per Alex:

  • Research provenance
  • Buy less and buy natural
  • Look at labels and know fabrics
  • Think about who made it
  • Think about where it will go
  • Buy quality, no matter the age
  • Repair the clothes you love
  • Buy from charity shops
  • Upcycle

In the end, you need to ask yourself, is participating in this industry worth it in the long run? 

Watch Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion for more

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