When it comes to the appeal of fast fashion, we need to ask how we got to where we are now.
See, there is a lot leading up to this point in history where fashion and clothing consumption is about to go through a dramatic twist. Fashion has been speeding up faster and faster, with trends going out of style way too quickly.
This article explains some of the cycles the fashion industry undergoes and will continue to undergo into the next century. Buckle up, and let’s go.
Fashion is all about Cycles
Fashion is cyclical. It comes and goes, and will continue to do so indefinitely. Why? Because it is an industry that is tied to individuality and uniqueness. Once something becomes so ingrained in society, the leaders that drive the fashion industry will shift to something else in order to stand-out.
The most in styles are those carefully selected by a hierarchy of fashion designers and business executives to sell more products. Yes, it can seem a bit glamorous. Fashion is all about self-expression, power, influence, and of course money.
It’s more profitable to produce clothing and thus style in cycles. Less work on the part of the designers, and more profit for the manufacturers.
Therefore, to beat fast fashion, we need to step outside the cyclical nature of fashion and focus on styles that can adapt and matter to our personal lifestyles.
Fast Fashion is a product of Planned Obsolescence
Planned obsolescence is when something is made to break. Think of lightbulbs built in the 1920’s and then later in the 1950’s. Earlier light bulbs would last indefinitely so the market for selling light bulbs shrank once everyone had them. Then, around the late 1940’s it became more profitable for companies to make products that intentionally break. Ever since we’ve struggled with the uphill battle that is planned obsolescence.
Fast fashion has developed a similar pattern. We all need clothing, so once we have clothing there is really no incentive to buy new clothing except to keep up with the latest styles. Fashion is a by-product of planned obsolescence, but so is the quality of clothing.
With a mix of the average worker’s wages stagnating since the 1990’s, and the freedom allowed to manufacturers to import clothing without checking the ethical working conditions, a new problem has developed. Planned obsolescence to the extreme.
The only way to get out of this is for consumers to transition to purchasing higher quality clothing and a more steady model of growth for fashion companies.
Once Something is Too Familiar, Trends Swing the Other Way
If you look at the fashion industry as a whole, there is a distinct hierarchy… at least until the advent of social media. People at the top decided what was “In” and everyone else had to live up to those standards in order to be considered “in”
Even with the social media uprising, not much has changed. Yes, anyone, in theory, can be a fashion influencer, but only to an extent. Instead, fashion is now driven by what is most popular with the masses, but the hierarchy still exists. The result is the ever increasing need to stand out.
In order to stand out, you need to balance doing something completely different from the masses while seeming like you “fit in.” This balancing act between standing out and fitting in has been driving the industry for the past decade and will continue to do so indefinitely.
The constant back and forth also ensures that styles will continue to shift quicker and quicker. Mixed with a limited amount of resources on the part of the consumers, cheaper clothing is a priority. Cheaper clothing means less sustainable.
Fast Fashion is at a Tipping Point
Because fast fashion is cyclical and unsustainable, it by definition will pass in time. Enough people are at a tipping point where the idea of fashion is, in fact, going out of fashion.
Fashion itself isn’t going anywhere, but it will change. Enough people are fed up with a system that gives them poor quality clothing when they can spend just a little bit more on something that is made to last. In the next decade or so, we are going to see a massive shift towards slower style and more sustainable clothing for staple wardrobe items. The trends and standing out are still going to be there but will take the form of quick-cycle clothing.
A lot of this has to do with consumer choices. Out attention and what we value is valuable in itself. As through this video below, we may come to realize that while we cannot change everything, we can focus on what we want to support.
Fast fashion is just not as appealing anymore