Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion in Golf

Fast fashion vs slow fashion is becoming an important topic in the golf world. Overconsumption and underuse have grown correspondingly with us gaining access to seemingly unlimited products. In the fashion world this comes in the form of mass-produced cheap copies of designer clothes. With this extractive way of living we are draining our planet’s natural resources quicker than we are regenerating them and as a consequence nature’s balance is being distorted.

What is Fast Fashion?

In the late’ 90s, a predominant part of the fashion industry moved from a four-season product-based model to a market-based model with around 50 fashion seasons per year, mass producing disposable cheap “designer” clothes with new product models rolling into the stores nonstop to satisfy the trends of any given week. These disposable clothes are often made from low-quality, synthetic and unsustainable materials put together by cheap labour from developing countries, with the power players of the industry showing little to no regard for the human and environmental toll this profit-above-all model was taking on the world. This method of environmentally unsustainable apparel production and consumption was dubbed fast fashion.

What is Fast Fashion in Sports?

Although the sports industry has not been hit in the same way with the 50 seasons wave as we see in the general fashion industry, a multitude of big sports brands fit with quite a few of the unfortunate fast-fashion characteristics, such as synthetic materials, unfair labour treatment, mass production, and unethically sourced protein fibres and down.

Most of the sports clothes we wear today are made from non-biodegradable plastic, such as polyester and nylon, and plastic is made from oil, a fossil fuel, which powers most factories and distribution channels. The production of synthetic clothes is growing and emissions are particularly harmful to our waters and atmosphere. Let's be clear, this is not sustainable. Synthetic sports clothes are typically made by profit-focused brands and marketed through the eyes and endorsement of athletes, whose performance, determination, and oftentimes behaviour, we aspire to. 

What is Slow Fashion?

Slow fashion is commonly viewed as the counter to fast fashion, with responsibly producing and consuming clothes of natural and environmentally friendly materials being regarded as a green alternative to fast fashion. While this may hold true when it comes to limiting the negative impact of producing synthetic and non-sustainable natural materials, the “natural way” will only have an actual positive impact if interdependent slow fashion factors are added to the equation. If we exploit labour, overproduce and underuse low-environmental impact apparel as is done with fast fashion, we too can be dubbed culprits as contributors to a greater negative impact on the environment through depletion of resources and excessive waste generation. As such, taking a more holistic approach to changing the way we create, use and reuse clothes through their entire lifecycle can benefit the planet and our future. As described by Sojin Jung and Byoungho Jin on the subject, there are five fundamental criteria to slow fashion, and these can be applied to the sports apparel industry as well as the general fashion industry. The five criteria can be categorized as equity, authenticity, longevity or functionality, exclusivity, and localism.

Equity - Access, Fair Trade and Treatment

We have all heard stories about large sports apparel brands and their misuse of child labour and exploitation of factory workers in sweatshops, particularly in South East Asian countries. Equity in the discourse of slow fashion revolves  basically around two things; equal accessibility to the product in question through fair trade and all-inclusive fair treatment of the producers in terms of working conditions and compensation. Slowing down production with a focus on both delivering a better product and providing fair treatment (through offloading work pressure), would then lead to the next slow fashion criterion: authenticity.


I’ll just say it, slow fashion is at first sight not the sexiest of names, but if you give context to the word it will hopefully pop into perspective. This conceptual name was originally derived from its counterpart in the culinary world, slow food, a cooking method that counters fast food by honouring the local cuisine and cooking on low heat over time, thus infusing flavours gradually. In the case of slow food, you achieve gastronomic pleasure by doing something with passion and patience. It’s about showing proper respect for craftsmanship and valuing the result over mass production. In fashion, the example could be a skilled team of passionate people honouring the art of creating wearable beauty for others by taking their good time to design and deliver a handsewn quality piece of clothing, as opposed to having a machine mass-produce copies of another brand’s art. Let that comparison sink in for a second and you might agree that this is where slow fashion and sexiness unify.

When you slow down the process in apparel production because you focus on creating quality output through skilled craftsmanship, you add value to the product in terms of material quality, financial gain, and historic connotation if the clothing is crafted using traditional techniques. This production slowdown coupled with a somewhat artistic personalisation in apparel creation is part of what makes the product authentic.

Functionality & Longevity

The most consumer-focused criterion of the five is where we address the useability and lifecycle of clothes. If authenticity in slow fashion is about quality craftsmanship, functionality & longevity are about getting as much out of the craftsmanship by maximising its use and lifespan. From a design perspective, we can achieve this by creating timeless designs in durable and natural low-impact materials, which have multifunctional uses in terms of environmental settings and versatile wearability. An example is nature’s own merino wool, which because of its natural temperature regulation can be comfortably used in both hot and cold weather. It is lastly about crafting products that can be repaired, re-used, and have an acceptable natural degradability level within a reasonable timeframe. In contrast to fast fashion, where a piece of clothing is on average estimated to be worn 7-10 times before it is discarded, when people buy a high-quality piece its lifespan is extended and versatility expanded.


Should localism be treated as regional, country-based, or even continental? Localism is a tricky concept, and the definition depends in many cases on your actual whereabouts. If treated as per region or country, many EU countries will face challenges in delivering fully localized apparel products because of the sheer production diversity and lack of local resources, partly due to the strategic structure of the European Union’s (EU) trade policy. On the other hand, the United States or China would face little to no challenges producing locally if we look at the localism concept from a country-based view but in particular the US might well face production issues if we use the regional approach. The point is that in slow fashion localism is a very fluent concept and perhaps geographically producing and importing responsibly from a fair trade and sustainability perspective would be the better fit. This is where global ethical and sustainability standards for apparel production could be applied. 


It is a given that because of the mass production and homogenized products fast fashion is as far from exclusivity as you can get and expressing your uniqueness is close to impossible. Exclusivity, irrespective of the financial cost, will most likely always be attractive to certain segments of our societies as it is considered a contributor to building one’s identity and showcasing personalisation. Just because an item is exclusive doesn’t make it slow fashion but if you combine it with the other mentioned ingredients, produce it sustainably and it could be a force for good.

What can Sports Brands do?

We are currently seeing a positive shift towards making sportswear from natural fibres that are produced through low-environmental impact methods. However, global overproduction of synthetic and poor-quality apparel still grows faster than clothes made sustainably from natural fibres.

Sports brands can take small but effective steps towards protecting the well-being of our planet and its life by producing clothes more responsibly and adhering to slow fashion standards, raising consumer awareness around the importance of buying sustainably and fewer items than what we have become accustomed to, and encourage to use clothes for longer periods, and discard responsibly. Additionally, they can stop using role models in the sports world to promote apparel and a consumer lifestyle that have a negative impact on the environment and instead turn their efforts towards being a force for good sportswear standards.

What can we as Consumers do?

Ok, so we all should know by now that synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, carry along with them a bag full of collateral damage to the health of our planet, and that the production of leather and non-organic cotton takes almost unfathomable amounts of water and uses high volumes of energy while poisoning our life and planet with harmful chemicals. In addition to this, as we consumers become more aware of the environmental and human consequences of fast and unsustainable fashion, many move towards more natural alternatives. Obviously, the opportunistic part of the business world (it is safe to assume that this accounts for most of the business world) eyes financial benefits in making sustainability claims and green goals, and right through the front door greenwashing enters, a concept where companies give a false impression of the environmental impact or benefits of their products to gain financially.

Whether or not synthetic and environmentally-unfriendly fabrics see the dawn of day pretty much comes down to the ethical standards we measure ourselves against and if we choose to prioritize profit, power, and convenience over nature’s balance. It is easy to call out the big brands, and the people working there, for being the bad guys in this story, often rightfully so being the fabric originators. However, anyone of us with the means to buy planet-friendly alternatives, who choose to buy these cheaper synthetic products, or anyone with a combination of wits and legislation authority, both bears part of the blame and has the responsibility to get us back on a course for the better of the planet and its beings.

In my opinion, we owe it to ourselves to set our own ethical standards when it comes to consumption, which could be aligned with slow fashion, shop from the brands that meet our criteria and avoid using excuses such as high cost, lack of knowledge, and inconvenience for not buying sustainably.

How does Golf Fit into the Equation?

As golf is a game of patience, quality, respect, exclusivity, and endurance, the concept of slow fashion would fit as a glove in the mind of the golf player. However, it is hard to know where to start with golf and sustainability as there are so many areas up for enhancement. However, if we keep within the apparel industry, allow me to share my top 5 for buying and consuming responsibly:

1. Resist fast fashion
If there is only one tip that I can make you take away from this, let that be it. In addition to the terrible fabric quality of these clothes, its mass production method puts pressure on our resources, pollutes our planet, degrades the natural environment and its ecosystems, and creates substantial societal inequality at local and global scales. Do your due diligence and research about the brand you are considering buying. If you are buying new sports equipment, I am almost certain that you go to great lengths to find the equipment that is just right for you. Why not spend at least 5 minutes putting the ethical glasses on when researching the apparel brand that you are putting in the basket? After all, when comfort, fit, performance, and durability all are advantages we look for in sportswear, can’t we also fit in ethical standards? Buy locally produced. It is not always straightforward depending on where you live but it’s a good rule of thumb.

2. Buy less clothes and buy quality
The less you buy, the better for the environment. If you buy clothes in timeless design (and colours), it will go with every one of the 50 fast fashion seasons. The result of skilled craftsmanship in clothing beats all the rest so go for quality clothes that will last. Personally,  I want a piece of clothing that fits me perfectly and that I will favour for years to come. The only way to get there is to neither compromise on quality nor fit and feel.

3. Always go for natural fabrics
In my book nature’s tech wins every time in search of performance and comfort. Natural Fibers are by far the best performing and ethical choice for slow fashion apparel. We favour merino wool for golf because its natural performance benefits outweigh its synthetic alternatives.

4. Care for your clothes
I know that in sports you have a tendency to sweat more than you think a body should be able to, but if you wear clothes made in particular from natural protein-based fibres, they offer you natural temperature and moisture control, and they are odor-resistant by nature because of their antimicrobial properties. This means that you don’t need to wash your clothes as often as synthetic and some plant-based fabrics. Protect the fibres of your clothes (and the environment) by choosing air drying over the tumbler and hold back on the ironing. 

5. You bought it, now wear it
...and keep wearing it until it is time for it to go back into the ground. Then pass it on for recycling or donation. Or wear it and plant it - stuff it in the ground with seeds if it is compostable. It will make for a nice memory.

Thank you for reading this piece and I hope you enjoyed it. It is thoroughly inspired by my passions and experiences. Feel free to reach out to me at If it caught your interest, we also regularly share our thoughts and experiences on our Instagram. 

Jon Christensen

Co-Founder at snöleo