Accelerating "Fast" Fashion
What do you see in the resurgence of fast fashion?
While the fast fashion business model is seen as a challenge, the market size continues to grow. In particular, 69% of male customers and 74% of female customers are teenagers, who are the driving force behind the industry. The ability to update trend-setting clothing at affordable prices is probably the most attractive feature for young people.
Forever21 has returned to Japan for the first time in three years.
Forever21 has become a fast fashion giant, expanding its stores from 7 to 47 countries in 6 years. However, it was forced to file for bankruptcy as a result of being eliminated by competitors for its freshness in price and design.
In addition to the trendiness of prices that can only be found in fast fashion, the brand has re-launched in Japan as a brand that breaks away from the cycle of mass production and mass consumption through supply chain management that takes the environment and people into consideration, and in-house development. The revival of a nostalgic fast fashion brand is already creating a buzz.
We will keep an eye on how they will achieve sustainability while maintaining trendiness (fast turnover).
What will change the future of the industry?
Low prices, trendy designs, and a wide variety of lineups and sizes. Fast fashion has brought democratization of fashion (=D&I) to consumers.
On the other hand, the impact on “society as a whole” in terms of waste, environmental issues, and harsh labor conditions has been a point of contention in recent years, and it will likely take some more time to achieve true D&I.
As we consider the future of fast fashion, what are the fundamental issues? And what is needed to achieve our goals? We would like to consider these questions based on the discussions at the DealBook Summit, a gathering of fashion industry experts held in New York last month.
Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director of the NYT and moderator, said, “The problem at the moment is not the use of synthetic fibers, but mass production, consumption, and disposal.” She said. What is required of brands is a shift to a business model that focuses on profitability. Products of high quality and design should be priced accordingly. As a consumer, I am inclined to agree, but we have already become too accustomed to fast fashion.
On the other hand, in the discussion about the second life of clothes, there was an opinion that we need to build on the idea that old clothes can be repaired and customized to become haute couture.
Just as Steve Jobs’ fashion once built an image of “minimalism and wearing the same thing for a long time is cool”, and foreign celebrities started driving Priuses, which built an image of “environmentally conscious choices are cool. The reconstruction of our image is the key to the future of fast fashion.
Empathy is the Key
What do you think of when you hear the term “ethical fashion”?
The term is often spoken of as the antithesis of fast fashion, but it is also often seen as a grand idealism.
According to a Common Objective study, “sustainable fashion” and “ethical fashion” have increased 46% and 25%, respectively, in Google searches over the past six years. However, according to a survey conducted by Oeko-Tex, an ecological certification company, 60% of millennials say they are interested in certified clothing, but only 37% have actually purchased it.
Why do these words carry somewhat less weight? First, the drawbacks of fast fashion are hazy for many consumers. Plastic-based materials are masked by unfamiliar technical terms, and the lives of producers are summed up in one word: “˜made’. The biggest problem mentioned in the article is that the words “ethical” and “sustainable” are spoken of as a giant umbrella idealism that means different things to different people.
My shopping decisions are supported by my original experience of witnessing child labor in Cambodia, which only grounds the seriousness of the issues surrounding the fashion industry. However, for many people, they may not have the opportunity to see the reality of environmental pollution and labor exploitation.
What is needed to overcome such challenges is “storytelling” that resonates with a wider range of consumers. SHEIN, which is now attracting attention as a super-fast fashion brand, has recorded global sales of $16 billion. On TikTok, where SHEIN’s target teenagers see the #SHEIN hashtag 34.4 billion times and #SHEINhaul has been mentioned 6 billion times. With inflation soaring, numerous influencers are speaking to Generation Z about the joys of fashion, which prioritizes quantity over quality.
The key will be whether the ethical fashion movement can spin a “sympathetic” story about its ethical stance on fashion in the future.
The Rise of "Ultra" Fast Fashion
Amidst inflation around the world, “ultra” fast fashion such as “SHIEN” and “Boohoo” are gaining popularity, especially among Generation Z. They release new items one after another with unprecedented speed and at low prices, attracting the attention of young people on social networking sites. However, behind the innovative business model, various social problems, such as forced labor and massive waste, have erupted and have become a source of criticism.
Launch of a resale platform by ZARA
In November, fast fashion giant Zara launched a resale platform called “Zara Pre-Owened” in the UK. The platform allows customers to donate/sell their unwanted clothes and also provides repair services. The company’s head of sustainability says that the platform aims to extend the lifespan of clothes and recycle them.
Whereabouts of your returned goods
The fashion industry has seen the spread of e-commerce in the wake of the pandemic, but 30% of purchases are returned and in many cases sent directly to landfills. The reason for this is that the costs associated with quality control of returned garments are higher than the profit gained from resale. It is estimated that 2.6 million tons of returned garments were discarded in the U.S. in 2020 alone, and it is hoped that a sustainable returns process can be established.