Style

Fast Fashion Is Getting Even Faster. Is That a Good Thing?

Two British companies are trying to find out.

BY Scott Christian | Apr 14, 2017 | Fashion

Image by Getty

It's hardly a bold claim to say that fast fashion has a few sins on its hands. Along with environmental issues throughout the supply chain, there is also the question of what to do with so much throwaway clothing. And then, of course, there are the ethical issues accompanying unsafe factories and sub-par conditions in shipping centres. Add in the psychological conditioning that comes with turning clothing into an essentially disposable good, and season it all with a knocked off runway design or two, and you'd have to wonder why anyone would want fast fashion to become even faster. But apparently, people do.

According to a research note that Goldman Sachs sent investors last month, British fashion retailers ASOS and Boohoo are making a run at fast fashion stalwarts like H&M and Zara, largely thanks to their ability to deliver trendy new clothing to market at an even quicker clip.

Image by Getty. Behind the scenes of the design process at Zara.

Partly due to the fact that both British retailers are online only and, as such, are able to deliver new trends at astonishing speed, they've seen their sales growth skyrocket in the last year. Earlier this week, ASOS lifted its sales forecast for the year, expecting a growth of between 30 and 35 percent. And Boohoo recently predicted that its sales growth would be around 50 percent for the year.

So clearly there is still a robust market for fast fashion. And when it's used responsibly—when people buy things that they really want and intend to wear for a while—there's nothing wrong with that. But shifting even more towards a churn-and-burn approach feels like a step in the wrong direction.

ASOS has already run into some trouble, with allegations bubbling up last year that its warehouse in northern England was a Dickensian hellscape. And of course, established fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara have had their share of both environmental and labour issues, though in all fairness both are working towards improving on those fronts. The question, though, remains: How high of a human and environmental cost will have to be inflicted before we realise that a new bomber jacket every six weeks just isn't worth it?

The sad fact is that, when you're posting a sales growth of around 50 percent, it'll probably have to be a lot higher than it is right now.

From: Esquire US


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