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Fast Fashion: Industry, Problem,Issues, Why & How to Avoid Fast Fashion

Exploitation of poor laborers. And brain-washing of buyers by neuro-marketing.

80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed globally every year. The US spend an estimated $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes every year: worn for one night only. The volume of water consumed by apparel production each year is currently the equivalent to 32 million Olympic swimming pools. Australian’s are the world’s second largest consumers of fashion. On average, they consume 27kgs of new clothing and textiles every year. One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.


Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.

Use of psychology, internet of things and hyper personal marketing help in brain bashing of buyers.

The Industrial Revolution introduced new technology – like the sewing machine. Clothes became easier, quicker and cheaper to make. Dressmaking shops emerged to cater for the middle classes.  Online shopping took off, and Fast Fashion retailers like H&M, Zara and Topshop took over the high street. These brands took the looks and design elements from the top fashion houses and reproduced them quickly and cheaply. With everyone now able to shop for on-trend clothes whenever they wanted, it’s easy to understand how the phenomenon caught on.

Land-filling by used and unused cloths is one of the biggest problem.

Fast fashion focuses on speed and low costs in order to deliver frequent new collections inspired by catwalk looks or celebrity styles. But it is particularly bad for the environment, as pressure to reduce cost and the time it takes to get a product from design to shop floor means that environmental corners are more likely to be cut. Criticisms of fast fashion include its negative environmental impact, water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and increasing levels of textile waste.

E commerce further increased the rate of buying by placing shop in everybody’s mobile.

Most of us associate the term ‘fast fashion’ with the big brands like Zara, H&M, Forever21 and Topshop. Sustainable fashion fans have rightly called these big brands out for their poor practices and waste. Almost all new brands that have picked up the same destructive business model and do and say almost nothing about sustainability. Simplest solution is to buy as less as possible, buy classic fashion, use mix, use match techniques, buy accessories rather dresses, use organic and natural fibre, buy handlooms and handmade dresses.

Child Labor, very low wages and deadly working condition is very common.

The $2.5 trillion fashion industry is one of the largest users of water globally (pdf), according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), noting that producing one cotton shirt requires 2,700 liters of water—”the amount a person drinks in 2.5 years.” The agency also estimates that one in six people worldwide works in a job related to fashion, an industry whose supply chain has a reputation for unsafe conditions, child labor, and other exploitative practices, especially for girls and women.

Global Warming and Climate Change is directly linked to fast fashion consumption.

Why Avoid Fast Fashion:

  • Fast fashion exploits overseas workers.
  • Fast fashion contributes to the decline of handlooms and job creation by computerized mass production.
  • Fast fashion is environmentally disastrous.
  • Fast fashion can wind up costing you more than “real” clothes.
  • Fast fashion’s low quality changes how you think about clothes.
  • Fast fashion collaborations trick you into paying for the name.
  • Fast fashion distorts your sense of value.
World biggest fast fashion company old weak building collapse in Bangladesh.

What we can do to avoid problem caused by fast fashion :

Buy Less

Buy what you need, buy things that you love, and take care of what you own.

Establish Your Priorities

 If you’re passionate about the environment, choose clothing made with organic or recycled fibers. If you care deeply about fair-labor practices, search for locally made items or fair-trade certification.

Know That You’re paying very less but why

Most fast fashion retailers are able to drive down their prices because they produce cheaply in factories in China or Bangladesh–factories that Cline herself went to visit and found that their working conditions and salaries were not necessarily fair.

Know Your Brands

The internet makes it simple to locate brands that have ethical business practices and a style that suits you. Know that manufacturers who use organic cotton and recycled fibers are making more than just a trendy choice. Apparel companies aren’t required to list the chemicals in their fabrics.

Hire a Tailor

Obviously not everyone has the time or inclination to learn to sew. But happily, there are these people called tailors and seamstresses who will actually do it for you.

Recycle, Reuse, Reduce

Alteration and Size change is possible. For one time event or wearing at home, take old dresses from father, mother, siblings and friends, tell them it is to save environment. Reduce your consumption of fast fashion, buy less but good quality classic fashion items.

Buy Second Hand or Vintage

If you can’t afford independent designers, then buying from thrift stores or second hand is a great option.

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Fast fashion & slow fashion: different approach for fashion foresting?  


“No or less” fashion forecasting approach:

Make classic design in best quality & low price. Here forecasting focus on material demand, pricing and competition rather design.  

Many companies are managing retail prices extremely low because they did not change its merchandise plans based on the latest (fast) fashion fad. As an alternative, these companies books manufacturing capacity in advance, and produces slow (classic) fashion garments at a steady pace year-round, rather than rushing to produce trendy items from specialty factories. By making high quality, well-designed, well-fabricated, classic slow fashion basic clothes and managing to sell them incredibly cheaply because its factory costs are reined in, fashion companies can maintain customer demand without doing any fashion forecasting and trend analysis.


“Customer feedback” based forecasting approach:

Store manager collect and pass customer feedback to designers. Personal relation, survey, feedback form or general talk with customer plays very important role in this case.  

There is a revolution happening in the fashion industry and designers are becoming less concerned with creating designs and looking more into receiving customer’s feedback on how to make garments more multifunctional.  Store managers collect hard data, such as orders and sales trends, and soft data, such as customer reactions and “buzz” around a new style. They transfer this information to headquarters, where designers, market specialists and procurement and production planners are sit together and constantly develop the product, as asked by customer.


“Fast supply chain” based forecasting approach:

Unfinished good (not stitched / semi stitched / only textile / only pattern cutting) which have provision of design change as per latest fashion forecasting.   

Many companies have realized that waiting time increases exponentially when manufacturing capacity is tight and demand is highly variable & for short period. Manufacturing factories constantly create unfinished goods. Adopting a “just-in-time” approach, these companies send “unfinished goods” to its network of finishing shops and turn them into products. These unfinished goods have designs from slow (classic) fashion and fast fashion.

“Production management” based forecasting approach:

Batch production in real time i.e. rather leading, simply follow trend. Manufacture for each segment as per different trends and fashion forecasting but in few numbers periodically to stop manufacturing if demand decreases.    

Those companies who focus on fast fashion, trend analysis and fashion forecasting, by manufacturing and distributing products in small batches, these companies sell products just few days after they are made, operating with negative working capital. Up to 50 present of their clothes are designed and manufactured smack in the middle of the fashion trend. If violet velvet gown suddenly become the rage, these companies reacts quickly, designs new styles, and gets them into stores while the trend is still peaking.

About Author

MIFT ( Mysore Institute of Fashion Technology) students, trainee and scholars study and research about fashion, makeup, forecasting, e commerce, disruptive technologies in fashion & cosmetics industry. The primary research objective is to create open industry modular ecosystem platform for fashion designers and makeup artists to work and earn in hyper personal and local market using IR 4 and 5 ( industrial revolution) technologies to disrupt connected digitalization of mass production. 

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