Thursday, January 24, 2013

Can fast fashion and sustainability go hand in hand?

Fast fashion is everywhere. Thanks to rapid-response production systems and low-wage production in some countries, retailers like Primark,H&M, sda and Topshop are able to sell trendy clothes at very low prices. This encourages many consumers to dispose their clothes in a very short time since fashion items stay in vogue only for a short duration. Now Fashion apparel supply chain is blamed for generating high volumes of pollutants such as dying chemicals and other toxic gases.  

The cost of fast fashion is that as Americans buy 20 billion garments a year, an average of 64 garments a person Chinese consuming at the same rate, buy 80 billion garments a year[i]. Statistics show that Britain throws away around 2 million tons of clothes a year and the consumption of clothes has increased by 35% from 1996 to 2005.[ii] Most of these disposable clothes are made out of synthetic fibers and therefore are not biodegradable.

While Walmart and other retailers have realized it’s their time to give back to the earth it is surprising to see clothing retailers turn a blind eye to the impact on environment. Recently H&M world’s second largest clothing retailer (next to Zara) announces that it can make ethics and fast fashion synonymous. H&M also announced that this year 7.6% of its cotton was organic and by 2020 100% will be sustainably sourced cotton.[iii] Also Primark one of UK’s biggest promoter of disposable fashion launched an initiative to promote ethical trading and recycling of clothes. But, the biggest question is can these retailers bring a revolutionary change in terms of sustainability while still clinging to fast fashion supply chain?

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