Posted on 10/14/2015

By Fran Stevenson, Director of Strategic Accounts

Fall fashion hit the runway last month, and within days you could find the newest trends at an affordable price at retail stores like Zara, H&M and Forever21. Delivering high-end designs to a mass market sounds like a good idea, but at what price does it come?

What is Fast Fashion?

Fast Fashion became popular during the “boho chic” era in the mid-2000s. Its main objective is to get the designer look into stores for general consumption as soon after their catwalk debut as possible. With such a fast production-to-consumption timeframe, marketers can create more “buying seasons” in a year. Clothes made in the fast fashion industry are often considered disposable, both because of their typically lower quality and because of their trend-driven lifecycle.

Production & Criticism

Criticism against fast fashion and its main suppliers are that they are only concerned about the bottom line, meaning less-than-ideal methods are used to get fashionable items to the consumer, including clothes that fall apart and reliance on “sweatshops” or workplaces with unacceptable working conditions, often found in countries like India and China.

Fast fashion producers are also often at risk of lawsuits when their knock-off products are too close to the original design. For example, Forever21 has been involved in several lawsuits over alleged violations of Intellectual Property rights.

Zara is known as one of the leaders in fast fashion, with its Spanish parent company Inditex ranking as the world’s largest fashion retailer by revenue. After an order is sent by one of Zara’s 1,900 stores to its headquarters, it only takes 48 hours for that order to find its way back to the requesting store.

Finding a Balance

A company that focuses on fast fashion does not necessarily perpetrate the negative qualities described above. After the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse last year in Bangladesh, companies have taken steps to making fast fashion a more sustainable concept. But how? We look forward to seeing how companies respond to criticism and see if they either find a way to accomplish fast fashion in a more ethical manner, or if we’ll see a decline in fast fashion’s success and a rise in the demand for “slow fashion.”

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