fast fashion

The influences of ultra-fashion brands

As generation Z supposedly holds more hope than older generations in being more “climate conscious,” ultra-fast fashion brands are successfully influencing them the other way, as reported in an article by Fashion United. British company Boohoo and Chineses brands Emmiol and Shein are examples of ultra-fashion brands based on the same successful business model – 100% online sales, super low prices, often with promotions. The success of these brands is undeniable as Shein saw sales soar 60% in 2021, raising its turnover to $16 million, which was only slightly less than H&M’s $19 million that year. New collections appear every day, and many young people – heavily influenced online by social media with low purchasing power – are under pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Much of the success comes from targeting young adults with “haul” videos on social media – unboxing of orders in front of the camera – which turn engaged viewers into compulsive shoppers. Retailers don’t even need to approach mega-influencers to achieve this success, they can sign low-cost partnerships with average people “micro-influencers” that have a few followers representing a close-knit and trusted community. 

However, as expected, this industry is causing a huge detrimental impact on the planet as many of these garments end up in landfills, bonfires or next to riverbeds in countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, according to NGO Greenpeace. In addition, these companies are riddled with social and environmental scandals that should dampen consumer enthusiasm. An investigation by Swiss NGO Public eye found that employees at Shein’s factories in China were working up to 75 hours a week, which is illegal. The industry is also the third sector that consumes the most water, is responsible for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year and youth climate advocate Greta Thunberg has denounced this sector, saying it contributes enormously to the climate emergency. There is still some hope that climate realities might kick into the subconscious of today’s youth when watching videos and choosing whether or not to “shop now.” The article notes that Charlotte, 14, decided to stop ordering from Shein and Emmiol after  “feeling guilty” and instead chooses to look items up on second-hand clothing platform Vinted.

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