Fast fashion is defined as the phenomenon by which clothing collections are introduced that follow the latest fashion trends and that have been designed and manufactured quickly and at low cost.
This offers the consumer the possibility of accessing innovative garments at very affordable prices and on a continuous basis, with nearly 50 collections per year – different from the traditional annual spring/summer and autumn/winter collections.
This concept also encompasses the behavior of consumers of this type of fashion, ready-to-wear, democratic but also disposable, fleeting, accessible, trendy, which only lasts one season and then is forgotten in the wardrobes.
“No one wants to be seen or photographed in the same clothes, and because this amount of clothes are manufactured very cheaply and cost very little, it is more convenient for consumers to organize their wardrobe.”
-Kelly Drennan, founder and executive director of the Canadian NGO Fashion Takes Action.
H&M, the Inditex group with its star brand Zara; Top Shop, Primark, Mango, Forever 21 and Uniqlo are some of the companies that champion the fast fashion philosophy.
Through behavioral and market studies, advertising campaigns and production, distribution and marketing strategies, these businesses have achieved the goal of conquering the public and turning fashion into a consumer good for the masses.
This consumerist trend has meant that the average use of a new garment is only seven times before it is discarded and that, in the last 20 years, there has been a 400% increase in clothing consumption on the planet.
Social and labor concerns also arise, such as labor abuse. The documentary ‘The True Cost’, which explores the harms of fast fashion, reveals that there are about 40 million textile workers in the world, of which 85% are women, many of them minors, earning two dollars a day. day and under inhumane working conditions.
What is Fast Fashion?
Today we ask ourselves two questions: What is fast fashion? How did it come about? First of all we have to know that the English term fast fashion literally means fast fashion; The same concept can give us clues as to what it would be like. But let’s go a little deeper.
Fast fashion is a form of massive and constant production influenced by industrialization, which in turn leads to mass consumption. It is usually low-cost garments produced in large batches, imitating the trends promoted by haute couture. We can say that ready-to-wear is usually fast fashion. Thus, every garment you buy in regular stores is usually made at low cost, in large quantities and imitates the trends of each season.
But this type of consumption has its cons, especially for the environment; since about 62 million tons of clothing are produced per year; leading to the contamination of water, atmosphere and land by industries and the entire process that entails such as the materials used, transportation and the thousands of waste that are created from garments that have not been sold.
And you will wonder how it came about? Well, its peak was during the 80s when capitalism, the technological revolution and consumption began to gain strength. The previous idea was to create low-cost garments, then the desire to bring the trends of fashion brands to the entire population was added. This led to the appearance of stores such as Topshop (1964), Zara (1975) and Forever21 (1984) with their fast fashion philosophy of imitating fashion brands with mass production of low quality and low cost.
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People began to like this type of consumption since they could wear cheap clothes that before they could only get at high prices. This means that the desire for consumption will be encouraged through advertising and marketing campaigns, being one of the pillars that help it continue to function. In addition to promoting the consumer the idea that fashion is something quick, cheap and disposable.
But in addition, the fast fashion business model is based on fast production and transportation times so that it reaches a demanding consumer eager for new trends through physical or virtual stores in the shortest time possible. This means that fast stores have up to 4 collections a month, as opposed to fashion houses that have 2 to 6 a year. Thus, fast businesses copy in less than a few weeks the garments inspired by the latest collections presented on the spring-summer and autumn-winter catwalks.
And how do they do it? Fast fashion companies seek very low production costs, resulting in them exploiting workers in production industries located in poor countries such as India, China, Morocco or Bangladesh.
Because it is a type of business that negatively affects both its workers and the environment, in addition to creating unethical consumption for consumers and affecting the concept of fashion as something exclusive, quality and artisanal; The opposite face has appeared: slow fashion that is committed to responsible consumption of sustainable fashion of quality garments.