FashionNova - Vacay 90’s Baggy Fit Jeans

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Alison Ong
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From the harmful fabric used to FashionNova’s blatant disregard for sustainability, this pair of Vacay 90’s Jeans reflect fast fashion at its worst.

FashionNova is the definition of fast fashion; it’s founded on mass-producing thousands of clothes every day using unsustainable fabrics and supply chain to cut costs. The brand simply couldn’t care less about sustainability. They have no transparency on any part of their production process, aside from boasting that they produce over 1,000 new pieces every week. These jeans are just a slight glimpse of how much pollution, waste, and abuse that goes into FashionNova’s “around-the-clock” system that they’re so proud of.  

What it's made of:


These denim jeans are made from 100% cotton, the notorious fiber that fuels fast fashion. It can take 2,900 to 8,000 gallons of water just to produce a single pair of these jeans. This immense amount of water is then contaminated with the heavy pesticides used in growing cotton, then polluting waterways and exposing many living things to numerous health risks. According to a WHO task group, at least 1 million agricultural workers need hospitalization from serious acute pesticide poisoning. 

This water-intensive production process also relies on synthetic indigo dyes made of toxins and heavy metals that pollutes ecosystems. These chemicals poison animals and plants living in these contaminated habitats and even humans as we consume them. There have even been cases of stray dogs in India turning blue because of these dyes released in waterways! 

FashionNova could’ve shifted to the more sustainable alternatives to denim made from conventional cotton. There’s been a rise of ethically made jeans that use recycled cotton and hemp, recycled pre-consumer denim, certified sustainable cotton, or using cellulosic fibers such as linen, viscose, lyocell, or modal, which all ensure a lower environmental impact. The brand could also switch to natural dyes instead to lessen the chemicals contaminating habitats, plants, animals, and even humans. Instead, they selfishly chose unsustainable, low-quality fabrics just to cut costs and gain higher profits.

How it's made:


FashionNova has no transparency in their production processes. From sourcing suppliers to shipping to customers, it’s impossible to trace any part of their supply chain. Without any hint of sustainability efforts, I’m left to assume that they resort to the worst. They most likely use all plastic packaging and make no attempts to reduce their carbon footprint across transportation.

But what is truly concerning and absurd about FashionNova is that they released 1,000+ new arrivals every week. That’s over 100 new pieces every single day. What’s more, they share this unbelievably high number across their platforms like it’s something to be proud of! They’ve blinded themselves with their own vision to “deliver the most coveted styles at a moment’s notice.” They’ve even gone as far as to call themselves a “quick-to-market” brand. But this is just another fancy, decorated term for fast fashion. Producing clothes at this scale is impossible to regulate, especially since the brand seems to have no intention of attempting to do so anyway. They have no measures to protect workers and animals, efforts to use more sustainable fabrics and packaging, or even any goals of lowering their carbon footprint.

Who makes it:


FashionNova was at the center of an investigation for underpaying their workers as revealed by the New York Times. In 2016, it was revealed that the brand works with contractors that pay Los Angeles workers as low as $2.77 an hour. In 2019, the ongoing investigation found that it owed its workforce $3.8 million of backpay. Many of these workers have come forward with their experiences of unfair pay and unbearable working conditions such as working in factories infested with cockroaches and rats. FashionNova employee Tessa Garcia even filed a lawsuit against the brand for being paid $3.46 an hour to produce 5,000 orders at once. Now that FashionNova has moved most of its supply chain from Los Angeles to overseas, there’s no saying how much more abuse and injustice goes into their clothing. 

This abuse is reflected in the denim that these jeans are made of. Denim has not strayed far away from its past rooted in the slave trade. Until today, there have been many issues with child and forced labor in the production of denim. Seeing as how FashionNova has no Code of Conduct or evident commitment to protecting labor rights, these jeans mostly likely have exploitation woven into them. 

While still not praiseworthy, other fast fashion brands have made more of an effort to reduce their environmental impact even with smaller scale initiatives such as avoiding plastic as much as possible and shifting to recyclable packaging. But FashionNova seems to be the worst of the worst. Their mission is to “make affordable fashion accessible to customers around the world” but how affordable is it really to our world?