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Slow fashion: is fast fashion running on borrowed time?

We talk about: Sustainable fashion
9 April 2024

When it comes to slow fashion, it would perhaps be improper – at least for now – to refer to an actual business model. It is more of an approach that has developed over the last fifteen years to oppose fast fashion, both by consumers and by certain brand manufacturers of clothing, footwear, and accessories. An approach that has a different ethic and awareness regarding the impact of fast fashion on the environment and not only, if we also consider its social repercussions. But we shall go in order and make a brief summary.

What does fast fashion mean?

Fast fashion is that part of the clothing industry that produces new collections – generally inspired if not poorly copied from haute couture – within extremely short time frames and at a really low cost.

When we say extremely short time frames, we mean up to fifty-two new mini collections per year, with practically one being released on the market every week. This implies going beyond the very concept of the season and greatly shortens the products’ life cycle. This is without mentioning that in order to keep the price to the public low, cheap, low-quality synthetics are chosen so that garments and accessories do not stand the test of time and are soon to be thrown away and replaced.

Fast fashion consequences

The fast fashion business model has been successful for many international fashion giants. Supported also by the trends that continuously emerge on social networks and last the time of a like, just long enough to be superseded and replaced by new trends. This is the perfect dimension to always offer new collections, aided also by online shopping with the possibility of returning products. A truly disposable fashion, but one that has had devastating consequences, on the environment and beyond.

It is now estimated that fast fashion brands produce about twice as much as they did just 20 years ago. And the 92 million tonnes of textile waste generated each year, if this trend were to continue, could become 134 million by the end of the decade.

This is as far as waste production is concerned. Then we need to consider energy consumption, the use of polluting chemicals, harmful emissions into the atmosphere, and microplastics spilled into the sea. It is an extremely high environmental cost, to which the human cost must be added, as production is relocated to developing countries, where labour is cheaper and there are no regulations to protect workers.

The slow fashion movement

Is fast fashion running on borrowed time? Many would hope so, and the slow fashion movement is heading precisely in this direction, with initiatives involving many different stakeholders.

The great public debate that has become heated in recent years on the subject of environmental sustainability has led to a new awareness among consumers, which has evolved into different purchasing choices. People are paying more attention to the quality of the materials their products are made of, so they last longer, and are demanding greater transparency on the origin of products too.

This has led and continues to lead fashion brands to take up the sustainability cause: studying alternatives for material selection, reviewing production processes, seeking more transparent and reliable partners for their supply chain, from raw material selection to stock disposal.

Furthermore, institutions have not stood idly by and, as we already mentioned, are putting in place precise regulations concerning the management of unsold stock.

So, while still being little discussed by the general public, the slow fashion approach already has numerous interpreters and interlocutors. Where does M&A Export fit into this picture? In the management of remaining stock.
Whether it be unsold, defective, mismatched, returned or overproduced garments, if you need an organised, reliable partner to solve your stock disposal problem, in a traceable, transparent way, contact us now.