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The End of Fast Fashion

The End of Fast Fashion

by Ana Wang

January 18, 2015

A recent round-up of new year’s style resolutions from the editors of fashion news website revealed that all but one included some version of “I want to spend more, buy less.”

(The one who didn't just wanted to stop wearing shapeless tops over leggings - fair enough.)

The overall uniformity of the answers made it seem like some sort of bad April Fools prank that only a fashion website would pull, but it was December 31. So it looks like fashion people are really just getting sick of, well, fashion. (You know what I mean.)

One specifically mentioned fast fashion. The others were slightly less forthright, but it seems that the sentiment of novelty, convenience and affordability that fast fashion has provided for the masses is wearing off for those who work squarely within the fashion industry.

The trends of normcore and a return to the extremes of basics versus true novelty this year is merely a symptom that we are bored of having lots of stuff. Fast fashion lacks the inherent meaning and reverence that really, until very recently, we have always associated with it.

If you contributed to any fashion-related Kickstarter campaigns this year, you may have noticed that the successful ones all hark the same message. They use the same words, the same messages, and since Kickstarter has existed, it felt overwhelmingly pointed towards things like Better Quality, F*ck Fast Fashion, Less Stuff, Down with Mindless Consumption, etc. 

They’re probably not all trying to copy each other - it’s like a pack of Pyrenees dogs spotting a bear in the distance, crying out to make sure the sheep don’t fall bloody victims. The enemy only causes fear because the sheep already have it - but they need a dog to alert them, maybe even tell them over and over again. Fast fashion is only the enemy because somewhere, deep down, we are getting bored of it. Those of us who are aware of the dangers are the dogs. The sheep will follow eventually, and when they do, it'll be in herds.

Fast fashion execs should be worried when people start to articulate something that goes against the very grain of their existence, and do it publicly enough as a sign that it has become socially acceptable to not want more stuff - but they probably aren’t, given the sales data. 

They should though, because historically, before things fall fast and hard, they also must rise. (An empire cannot fall if there was no empire.) No trend in the history of mankind has ever proven invincible to the changing whims of culture and society - fast fashion certainly won’t be the last to prove it. 

The question is: will these companies - the crowning glory of retail in this moment in time - change with us, or will they simply wither away into fashion oblivion, to go into the history textbooks as a case study of 21st century disposability and excess?

Photo: Abi Penhale & Eva Sulejka by Sebastian Mader for Vogue Japan December 2014

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