With New York Fashion Week fast approaching, and back to school shopping in full swing, September is the perfect time to talk about fashion.
In the early 2000s, women all over the world enrolled in weekly style lessons from Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, and Serena Van Der Woodsen gave teenagers outfit envy strolling down the streets of Manhattan in Gossip Girl.
These days, consumers are able to purchase these high fashion clothing items on mass for discounted prices in what has been called “Fast Fashion.”
Fast fashion, a concept introduced last week in Kaylyn’s post, allows people to keep current with fashion trends by purchasing high fashion items at low prices. Stores such as Old Navy, H&M, Zara and Forever 21 have capitalized on this approach to fashion, being able to offer trendy clothes at discount prices.
Take a look at this infographic below and notice how over the years the % of our income spent on clothing decreases, yet the number of clothing items we buy increases dramatically.
These clothes are designed for obsolescence. From the get go, stores are counting on the consumer to toss the items in a matter of months. More clothes = more profit! The clothes being thrown out may have worn through, shrunk in the wash or they might just not be trendy anymore. Due to the poor quality of material, a lot of these clothes are not even in suitable condition to be passed on to second-hand stores.
Clothes from these store are so inexpensive that consumers no longer have to save up for that 250$ hand crafted leather jacket – there’s a 40$ version at Joe Fresh! Consumers can justify purchasing a larger quantity of clothing items because of the low price point. Quantity > Quality.
Is the answer to fast fashion eliminating trends?
Author Starre Vartan proposes that online shopping is contributing to the end of trends by making more fashion options available online. She notes that there are style options online for everyone, and we no longer have to cycle through the trends handed to us by big fast fashion labels, as our style is always in stock somewhere on the world-wide web.The author believes that because so many options for our lifestyles and our bodies are available online, fast fashion is no longer necessary.
While I agree that fast fashion is not necessary, I tend to disagree with this argument. I don’t believe that more options are the solution. There are plenty of stores out there giving various style options to consumers. It’s the lethal combination of style & low price point that is making fast fashion so attractive to consumers.
Online shopping is a completely different experience that has undoubtedly made the world smaller and more accessible, but, in my opinion, it is not eliminating fast fashion anytime soon.
Fast Fashion & Sustainability
Research conducted with young adults in both Hong Kong and Canada published in Fashion Theory found that “sustainability is not a term young consumers typically associate with fashion, although they are very open to environmentalism.” They found that although consumers may be concerned with the environmental and social impact of decisions in other areas of their life, this impact did not apply to fashion related decisions.
Consumer choice is disconnected from Consumer Values.
The two themes that were discovered from their analysis were as follows:
- Speed & Style at Low Cost
- Disposability & Limited Durability
This is Fast Fashion.These 4 factors are what enables consumers to be able to frequently change their identity, by purchasing low-cost items that are disposable through fast fashion. The article explains that consumers do not think about the environment, and about making sustainable choices when they purchase clothing. This connection must be made in social marketing campaigns moving forward to increase awareness and inspire change.
What can WE do?
Fashion is about more than just wearing something that’s trendy. It’s about finding clothes that inspire confidence, and shape how you want to present yourself to the world. It’s about learning to appreciate the clothes you’re wearing. Taking care of them so they will last past one season. Looking at them as an investment rather than a cure for a bad day. Crafting a wardrobe that is sufficiently stocked with classic pieces that will last from season to season. Purchasing clothes made of good quality materials may cost you a little more upfront, but in the end will be better for your wardrobe, wallet and for the environment.
Fast fashion feeds consumer’s need for instant gratification.
So let’s fight back!
Be Action Oriented: Make your shopping trip a more meaningful experience, and be particular in what you buy. More ≠ Better
Change Social Norms: Be a leader in your group of friends and encourage them to join you in your #slowfashionrevolution. Make mindful purchases.
Pledge Allegiance: Take to social media and pledge to not find instant gratification in your clothing purchases and find pieces that will inspire confidence, embody who you are and stand the test of time.