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Repost: Fast fashion vs slow fashion: Shaping the garment industry’s future!

Posted on March 16 2017

'Slow fashion ' is emerging as a conscious alternative to what is now the clothing industry's dominant business model. But can this movement hope to compete with the fast fashion model? And will a battle between fast and slow actually benefit the fashion industry? 

Ever since European brands like Zara and H&M pioneered the concept of getting the latest styles into stores quickly, supported by agile supply chains and just-in-time production, fast fashion has been on the rise. Zara (along with parent company Inditex) is frequently praised for its innovative production and distribution processes, but recent publicity around the trend has been less positive. 

There is evidence to suggest, perhaps unfairly, that a growing number of consumers will equate a fast fashion brand with unethical practices. Because many of the high-street retailers racing to fill stores with the latest trends have supply chains that rely on cheap labour in countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, it is assumed that safe working conditions and fair pay aren't on their list of priorities. Critics also claim that as long as the focus remains on speed and up-to-the-minute trends, there is little room for sustainability - producing clothing that is built to last and won't be thrown away after a few months - in the fashion world. 

In this context, the arrival of slow fashion is unsurprising. The movement is led by emerging designers and brands that promote the values of superior quality over speedy production, durability and a commitment to ethical working practices. Brand Channel recently expolored how garment retailers like New York-based Zady are building a business around the slow model - and deliberately positioning themselves as the antidote to mainstream fashion and its addiction to speed. Zady's advertising draws a direct link between fast fashion and exploited workers, polluting factories and soon-to-be disposable clothing. 

Of course, the reality is not so black and white. All retailers that fit into the 'fast fashion' category cannot be accused of exploiting workers and abusing the environment simply because they’ve developed supply chains that respond swiftly to new trends and consumer demands. Some high-street brands may well be guilty of prioritising cheap labour and rapid production above everything else, but their adherence to a particular business model is not proof in itself. 

A fast or slow future 

So can slow fashion take over as the industry’s dominant mode? Surveys have indicated that consumers will accept a higher price for clothing that comes with some kind of ethical guarantee. In September 2013, a YouGov poll found that 74% of UK shoppers would be happy to pay an extra 5% if they were assured that workers were paid fairly and working in safe conditions. 

The co-founders of Zady also used an opinion piece in the business of Fashion last year to argue that Millennials, the generation that accounts for annual spending worth an estimated $1.3 trillion in the US alone, are increasingly concerned about transparency and ethics when buying clothes. However, there is another question to ask: can this change in attitude overcome the desire for a constant supply of new trends on the high street - something the majority of millennial shoppers are now well accustomed to. For the time being, we suspect the answer is no. As Zady’s Maxine Bédat and Soraya Darabi admitted in their BoF article: “To be sure, millennials still consume vast quantities of unsustainable and unethical fashion from some of the most profitable apparel-makers in the world.” 

Instead of fast vs slow fashion, we hope the global garment industry can evolve into a business that combines the best of both worlds. That means building an industry where brands are able to produce ethically sound, environmentally-friendly and sustainable clothing without compromising on speed. that is exactly our mission producing cashmere garments that are environmentally-friendly and sustainable clothing without compromising on speed .

 Source: Britanniapackaging


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