This debate has been fought for many years – Can fast fashion be sustainable? Can a business produce their fashion range in a sustainable manner and still achieve a fast turnaround and cheap prices that the customer desires? Is it possible to change your business to adjust to a market that is becoming increasingly concerned with our environmental impact? Or are we naive to thin that we can have the best of both worlds?
Fast fashion – Value and affordable products for the customer
In the age of modern technology and outsourcing, we as a customer expect low prices and great availability. Fast Fashion means cheaper garments and a greater variety for the customer. Manufacturers have improved their production and shipping methods to allow a faster supply. The whole supply chain and product lifecycle have shortened dramatically compared to decades past. Many top fashion businesses such as River Island can quickly react to changes in trend and fashion and have a new line of clothing in their stores in a matter of weeks.
Why is fast fashion relevant in today’s market? Many have attributed it to the great rise in the use of social media. Celebrities plaster their fashion over Instagram and Twitter and consumers react to this. Furthermore, the amount of information on fashion that is available online is staggering and it creates an endless cycle; The more we as a customer become informed, the faster businesses must work in order to keep up with our needs. The importance of social media in our day to day lives mean that fashion designers must capitalize on this fact or risk getting left behind.
While this type of fast fashion gives our customers great satisfaction and satisfies their need to keep up with the latest trends and styles, it does not make for a sustainable or environmentally friendly business.
Sustainable fashion – Caring for our environment
Some people wonder if fast fashion can be sustainable. “Sustainable” is not juste a word you can give to any brand. This type of fashion is concerned with the environmental impact a business’s production processes has. Are you sourcing environmentally friendly raw materials? Are your supplies paying their employees a fair wage? What is your carbon footprint? Are you using materials that can be recycled? Does the production of your garments support the local area? These kinds of considerations are often ignored in the fashion industry in order to meet the consumer’s high expectations. While customers expect great prices and variety, an increasing amount of us are also becoming more aware of the environmental impact we are having on the world. Can this enlightenment be realized with the ever demanding mentality of fast fashion?
Some people wonder if fast fashion can be sustainable. Fast fashion generally does NOT allow for sustainable practices. The basic fundamentals of the process such as quick turnaround and cheap products just don’t lend themselves to sustainability. While businesses can take small steps to improve their sustainability, they will struggle to maintain their fast fashion process if they truly want to become a green company. Sustainability inevitably requires more investment and a slower product lifecycle – Raw materials have to be sourced either locally at a greater cost, or using recyclable materials, while steps must be taken to ensure you are reducing your carbon footprint. Fast fashion and sustainability just do not mix. If sustainable fashion is desired by the consumer, a change in shopping morality will have to happen – The fast fashion mentality will have to be disregarded, and customers will have to accept that they will have to wait longer, and possibly pay more too.