What Will Follow Fast Fashion?

The shopping experience is constantly evolving for both consumers and retailers. In the process, we’re beginning to see culture clashes that aren’t easily reconciled.

As a teenager, I was lucky enough to enjoy thrifting and bargain hunting, versus hunting more costly name brand items. I developed an early appreciation of antique shopping with my grandparents, and this left an impression on me that feeds my passion for finding a good deal today. Part of the shopping experience for me includes finding unique items and this is a trait I share with Gen Z shoppers who are shunning fast fashion for this factor and additional ones.

While technology has become an integral part of creating the curated shopping experience, at the same time it has contributed to the never-ending supply of “fast fashion.” This is where my former shopping habits are clashing with the convenience of e-commerce, and I’m not alone. There are many others who find themselves missing the thrill of the hunt.

Shoppers are looking for the next best thing to satisfy their desire for the constant roll out of new styles, garments, and fabrics. But, at the same time, there isn’t a lot of pleasure in getting something too quickly, or too cookie-cutter in design. This desire for continuously changing fashion is taking a toll on more than just our wallets—it’s impacting our experience.

To complicate it further, retail companies are trying to maintain a buyer’s model in a world where consumers are equipped with insider knowledge. Finding the lowest price on most items is one search bar away, but this is leading to a choice choke where cheap doesn’t necessarily equate to quality, uniqueness , or even sustainable practices.

Millennials and Gen Z are becoming more vocal about the need for better business practices and brand transparency. This is in addition to their desire to a find more original items that cater to their individual style. We have reported this in previous posts with evidence around the rise of rental, and used clothing services.

It is becoming increasingly harder to ignore  stories about forced labor, unsafe working conditions, and fashion waste that are topping news feeds. These reports are creating greater awareness around the need for change

The following are just a few examples of transformative changes worth watching in the fashion industry.

  • Major fashion brands are establishing more sustainable practices to align with growing consumer demand. This is leading to innovative material use and product design that can showcase a greater ethical responsibility from high-end brands. This transition to more affordable products also showcases how brands are trying to connect with new consumer groups through affordable luxury items.
  • Fast Fashion brands are becoming concerned that the growing focus on addressing climate change in younger generations could harm sales overall within the discounted clothing industry. Brands are trying to highlight the number of job opportunities that their industry provides within underdeveloped areas in defense of what some see as a humanitarian and environmental concern.
  • Forever 21’s recently announced bankruptcy is getting attention as more retailers are struggling to connect to Gen Z shoppers. The company proved itself unable to remain relevant to the next wave of shoppers who are turning to used and rental services for clothing. This shift in buying allows for a more rotational and hand-picked wardrobe without the added cost of new clothes.

How the fashion industry responds to changing consumer demands is still unfolding and we will be watching this category development and how it will affect the shopping experience. While some brands are making moves towards a more sustainable and accessible model of business the trickle-down effect is only starting to take place.

Maybe it’s time to go back to my own roots of thrifting and temporary clothing rental for special occasions. After all, if it’s good enough for Macy’s to try then what do I have to lose–except for maybe some pieces I never wear anyway and perhaps make room for a new seasonal wardrobe with the money I’ll save!