Fast Fashion

The growing popularity of rapidly produced and consumed fashion created to meet fast-changing trends

What is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is an expression used to refer to the growing popularity of rapidly produced and consumed fashion created to meet fast-changing trends. The rapid speed of this sales technique creates a competitive advantage for the organizations using it. This is because fast fashion can bring products from the ideation phase to the end product in an extremely short period of time.

Fast Fashion

Fast fashion produces cheaper clothing for shoppers for trends that are constantly changing. Companies can then be the first to market such new trends to consumers and capitalize on their continually evolving demand.

It is not uncommon for multiple new products to be released several times a month or even several times a week to stay at the forefront of a trend. However, it also comes with some very substantial adverse effects on the environment, leading many sustainability groups and large corporations to move away from fast fashion.

How It Works

Since the 1990s, fast fashion has been on the rise as shopping becomes ever more a form of entertainment and the demand for “fashionable” clothing increases. Fashion shows regularly set the stage for new trends, which can be changing monthly or even weekly, rather than the usual seasonal trends that were common before. Fast fashion gives consumers the ability to stay on top of the current fashions in a somewhat affordable way.

Clothing retailers can implement rapid clothing production through strong supply chain management with strong connections/relationships between producers and retailers. Fast fashion organizations focus on vertically-integrated supply chains and developing products with revenue-oriented pricing. This practice provides a mutually beneficial exchange between the producer, vendor, and consumer.

Fast Fashion Leaders

Leaders in fast fashion include Zara, H&M, Forever 21, and Topshop, who are all well known for their ability to stay on trend and to quickly produce affordable clothing. Zara was the leader of the shift when they began receiving bi-weekly deliveries of new products. They were able to replicate fashion and streetwear trends weekly and stay ahead of their competitors, resulting in great success for their company. Many more department stores and designer retailers followed suit to try and copy the pioneer companies’ success.

Environmental Impacts

Fast fashion also resulted in a massive increase in waste associated with the fashion world. Many believe there must be a considerable shift in how many leading retailers operate to mitigate the negative effects that fast fashion is creating. Clothes can travel around the world many times before getting to the end consumer, resulting in carbon dioxide emissions, clothes waste, and other pollution risks.

Consumers can choose to decrease the adverse effects of fast fashion. Some examples include buying less clothing and extending the life of your current clothing. Another solution is thrift shopping, which decreases the number of products that end up in the garbage and can be purchased for very low prices.

Finally, consumers can research the products before buying them to ensure they are sustainably sourced and produced. At the end of the day, it all comes down to consumers putting in the effort to care about the harmful effects of fast fashion and make a conscious effort to change that.

Economic Impacts

At the core of fast fashion is the supply and demand of the associated trends. Previously, there were said to be two fashion seasons, which have now grown into 52 micro-seasons. This is due to the demand for the next new trend as consumers follow the top world stages of fashion. It is a race by the retailers to see who can produce the next trend the fastest and for the most affordable price.

The apparel industry is expected to reach $3 trillion in value by 2030, up from $1.9 trillion in 2019. Such numbers show the extreme weight society is continuing to put on fashion and consumerism with no end in sight.


Fast fashion refers to the rapidly developed, marketed, and produced lines of clothing created to follow the fashion trends of our world. The speed of development creates a competitive advantage for those companies that can take advantage of it.

Strong supply chain management has made this style of operation very successful in the last three decades. Many companies have followed suit to profit from this market, which has seen both success stories and failures.

Tied to the economic successes, there have also been massive environmental impacts associated with fast fashion. It has led many organizations to move away from this form of apparel retail; however, fast fashion will be around for many years to come unless there is a change in the consumer’s mindset.

Related Readings

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