The new business model in the clothing market has drastically changed the pace of consumption. Several new collections per year and twice the sales volume. What impact does the fashion industry and this level of consumption have on the environment and the natural resources of our planet? Experts advise producers and consumers on how to reduce environmental damage.
Two decades ago, clothing brands began to adopt a new business model aimed at producing fashionable clothing for every consumer at affordable prices, as quickly as possible, and in as large a volume as possible. Over the past 15 years, clothing sales worldwide have been doubled, and an average time of wearing the same clothes have dropped dramatically. According to statistics, clothes usually do not stay in closets for more than one year. Rapid fashion has a strong impact on young people. 2017 survey conducted in 2017 found that 41% of young people between the age of 18 and 25 feel pressured to wear new clothes and new combinations every time they go to school, university, work, or meet friends, and they are ashamed to wear the same clothes more than once in a short period of time.
Previously, it took about 6 months from the sketch of a designer until the final product, and another year passed before this garment appeared on the mass market in physical stores. It means that in 2000, clothing companies managed to release an average of 2 collections per year: autumn/ winter and spring/ summer. In 2011, the number of collections has grown up to 5 per year. Now, the fast fashion brands as ZARA creates more than 20 new clothing collections every year, another well-known brand of H&M release 12 to 16 new collections per year.
Representatives of such brands are attending to fashion weeks, follow the presentations of the most popular designers, follow the content of influencers on social media, take photos of potentially successful models and send them to the production team. From the moment of photo taken to the delivery of the goods to the physical stores the H&M brand team takes a week, while Zara takes about 5 weeks. In this way, the consumer develops the habit of buying as quickly as possible, because a product can quickly disappear from the store and never return.
The environmental impact of a product can only be reduced by using it for a longer period. Therefore, the global clothing rental market, sharing and resale is growing. Even traditional and long-standing boutiques include used and customer-supplied clothing and accessories. It is recommended to choose better quality clothes and accessories, brands that provide fair wages and suitable conditions for their employees. You can look for less environmentally damaging and natural materials such as linen, mint, seaweed, hemp fiber, or wool. Flax fiber is environmentally friendly, leaves no waste, mint (95%) fiber has natural antibacterial properties, algae fiber is rich in beneficial trace elements, and hemp requires 55% less water than to grow the same amount of cotton.