Fashion has evolved throughout the decades and has now become a medium of expression for many people. It contributes to a person’s confidence and self-esteem whilst allowing them to portray their aesthetic. Whereas for some people, fashion represents beliefs like, ‘lucky outfits.’

Fast fashion brands like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M are perhaps the most popular brands. The industry is growing fast and Americans alone are expected to spend $1.1 trillion. This is a huge amount compared to the previous articles of clothing that were bought. In the 1980s, an average American would purchase 12 new articles every year. This amount has now increased to 68 new articles every year. 

Fast Fashion is described as a “series of chain retailers who are able to look at the runways and make garments really quickly and put them into a “see-now-buy-now” kind of retail environment.” Creating counterfeit goods is illegal, but creating knockoffs isn’t. Brands like Zara and H&M use that to their benefit and create knock off versions of the most popular item of luxury brands as soon as they hit the market. Thus making fast fashion the only industry in fashion that has grown massively in the past fifteen years. So much so, that they have been killing legacy brands like Gap, Levis, and PVH (parent company of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klien.) This makes Zara’s parent company, Inditex, the largest retail clothing brand in the world, which made Amancio Ortega (Zara’s founder) the sixth richest person in the world with a net worth of $77.3 billion.  

Zara’s affordable knockoff version of the Balenciaga trainers

Zara began its journey in 1975. It was called ‘Zorba,’ however, there was a bar in town with the same name and after the owner’s complaints, Ortega named the brand, “Zara” (yes, it was copying other brands back then as well.) The original business model takes almost 2 years to release a new season. The process includes designing, sourcing, manufacturing and finally distributing. Zara changed this business model to make it more ‘efficient by using two techniques. They used quick response manufacturing which allows them to shorten the whole process. Zara creates a knockoff of the design, has raw materials on hand and only produces more if it is popular, and then it’s a streamlined distribution. This process only takes them 4 months. Their second technique is called the dynamic assortment which means they sell new clothes every week. They practically have 52 seasons a year with this technique and their sales are off the charts because there is a huge variety for people to choose from which caters to everyone’s demand. Zara does its research on what items are on-trend and then uses that research to sell a knockoff that is lesser in price. This allowed Inditex to make $254 million from Zara alone and online sales went up to 74%.

Now because of the new wave of fashion, trends are constantly changing and people are putting on new looks almost every month. This results in people keeping their clothes only half as long as they should be. This affects the rest of the industry. Brands like Gap, Hollister, and Burberry, have all wanted to speed up their supply change so that they can adapt to the fast fashion model as well. This has a huge cost on the environment. The Guardian has reported that these clothes are damaging the environment, “more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.” Indicating that the clothes in your suitcase are damaging the environment more than the flight you put them on. 

Now a lot of people might say that they donate their clothes instead of throwing them out. However, most of what you donate is still trash. If the clothes are not sold in the store after one month, they are dumped in countries like Africa and Kenya. 87% of those clothes end up in a landfill or are incinerated. 

As consumers, it is our job to do our research on the brands we consume. You can make a big difference by purchasing second-hand clothes or wearing clothes for much longer rather than throwing them out. Get creative with your outfits and try to use the same piece in different ways because the environment needs our help. Be sustainable. 

Azka Ahsan is a business writer here at Jayzoq. She enjoys having pasta and going on long drives.
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