The True Cost of Fashion as it Gets Faster

Fast Fashion is a business strategy that empowers brands to respond quickly to changing consumer demand by creating an efficient supply chain. Zara, H&M, and Primark are some of the leading fast fashion brands in the industry today. Zara is known to move from the design stage to putting the product inside the store within two weeks. The company benefits from resource-based advantages as 70% of its operations are vertically integrated. They read consumer trends, study the market response to their products and accordingly design their subsequent product portfolio. Owing to this strategy, a larger number of styles are produced in smaller quantities and offered at cheaper rates. This puts a considerable amount of pressure on the supply chain as the production of smaller order quantities is not efficient and incurs more cost per garment from the supplier’s side. However, due to the low pricing strategy cost cutting measures need to be enforced which results in the suffering of both the manpower and the quality of material used. Workers are often exploited and underpaid for their services. In addition to this, short production lead times do not afford the opportunity to achieve good fits and workmanship. Hence more often than not, quality suffers. Fast fashion goods are known to be compromised in terms of both fit, and fabric quality.

Faster Fashion

Faster Fashion has also come in, with online fashion retailers like Boohoo and Asos capturing the market with their Kardashian inspired £4 tops and £9 dresses. Brands are producing much more than consumers can consume right now. Most of these garments are not worn more than once or twice before being discarded to the landfill. The e-commerce model affords them a quicker response time to fashion trends and consumer feedback. Known as the ‘test and repeat’ model, these retailers produce even smaller quantities for a very large number of styles, and then quickly ramp up production for the third or so that sell the best. Such brands can move from a product inception stage to sale within one week to four. Three-quarters of the production is sourced locally to enable the quick turnaround time. Faster Fashion, however, suffers the same problems as Fast fashion as fits and quality are subpar.

Fast fashion encourages and enables over consumption, ultimately generating large amounts of waste. This puts immense stress on our resources and is not sustainable in the long run. The manpower involved is exploited, natural resources taxed, and unsustainable production processes used to keep such a business model running. As consumers, it is important to consider the real cost of fast and faster fashion.

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