The rise of fast fashion is decimating the biannual seasonality that has long structured the fashion industry.
Fast fashion brands may issue as many as 52 weekly “micro-seasons” per year. Topshop, for example, introduces ~400 styles per week on its website.
To keep up, traditional apparel brands are now debuting around 11 seasons a year.
Cheap alternatives to high-fashion items remain hot consumer commodities. Even amid the retail slowdown, Zara’s parent company, Spanish retail giant Inditex, saw nearly $30B in sales in FY18 (February 2018 – January 2019) — a 3% increase in net sales.
Social media accelerates that cycle. Influencer marketing and other social media strategies help new trends travel fast, creating rapid consumer demand for hyper-cheap fashions.
Shoppers act on that demand instantly, thanks to “See-Now Buy-Now” tools on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
Fashion Nova is one example of a fast fashion e-commerce brand that has successfully leveraged social media to build its customer base and its brand. The company has more than 15 million followers on Instagram, as well as more than 3,000 influencers, known as #NovaBabes, promoting its clothes.
Fast fashion brand Boohoo has said that its profits doubled after paying celebrities to promote its products on Instagram to 16- to 24-year-old fans.
Yet fast fashion clearly has a dark side. Brands manufacture low-cost, low-quality apparel in factories with questionable working conditions, relying on workers who receive low pay. The inexpensive materials used to create cheap garments are also laden with chemicals.
Since rapid production runs create excessive textile waste, cheaply made apparel harms both factory workers and the environment: according to the Environmental Protection Agency, some 12.8M tons of clothing is sent to landfills annually. Global textile production emits 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually (more than international flights and maritime shipping combined). The fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of global CO2 emissions, 20% of the world’s industrial wastewater, 24% of insecticides, and 11% of pesticides used, according to some estimates.
While the sustainability issues within fashion, and fast fashion in particular, are not new, what is new is how the industry’s most influential customers are starting to respond.
(Source CB Insight)