From a Cotton Field to a Garbage Bin

From a Cotton Field to a Garbage Bin: Fast Fashion’s Challenges and Solutions
Abstract: The “Fast Fashion” industry can be rather controversial. One must look at this industry as a whole – its history, trends, and rising consumption. Additionally, it is also important to analyze several different factors that make fast fashion possible in the first place. New innovations and technologies play a major role, as well as improvements in supply chain, manufacturing, outsourcing, and cheap labor. Fast Fashion has also created complications, such as social and environmental damage, human exploitation and child labor. Many negative externalities and enormous environmental issues have appeared as a result – irrational and unsustainable cotton cultivation, textile production, pollution from dying, and irrational consumption by consumers. This paper will discuss environmental and societal problems associated with the growing fashion industry, as well as possible long- and short-term solutions that might mitigate the adverse outcomes.
Fast Fashion, is a recently developed phenomena that started to emerge several decades ago. The “explosive expansion” of fashion begun in the early 2000s and was led by companies such as Zara and H;M (Cobbing, M., ; Vicaire, Y.). Fast Fashion is focused on a quick turnaround of fashionable apparel items at low prices, which leads to an increased consumption by customers. In comparison to traditional fashion that only has 2 fashion cycles that includes fall-winter and spring-summer, the Fast Fashion has over 50 and sometimes reaches 100 fashion micro-cycles a year. (Drew D., Yehounme G, p.2) Moreover, modern Fast Fashion leaders, such as Zara, may introduce new collections and models twice per week, and some of the retailers have gone even further by introducing up to 100 new seasons and collections per year. This approach stimulates sales implying to a shopper the clothing’s relative uniqueness. For instance, Forever21 and H&M introduce new models daily, averaging around 400 new styles at most with only one goal, to keep the consumer buying on a daily basis. (Whitehead S.) Fast delivery of products from the point of design to the consumers is one of the main objectives of Fast Fashion. With the development of supply chain management and innovations in logistics such as