The mainstream fashion industry
When thinking about fashion, we might immediately associate it with our favourite luxury brands, style icons or influencers, or perhaps even the element of self-expression, individuality, or success that goes hand-in-hand with personal style. It is no doubt that fashion plays an essential role in many aspects of our lives, but what happens when we look beyond our immediate perceptions? It is tough to understand to what extent our blind compliance with the industry’s outdated standards has on the wellbeing of people and the planet. Intrigued by these blind spots of the industry, this series sets out to catch a glimpse of what really happens behind the scenes and highlights what we can all do to shift the current trajectory of the fashion industry.
How did the industry get to this point?
Prior to the 1980s, the fashion industry operated at a more gradual pace in comparison to today. Fashion as we know it, came about after a systematic overhaul to the industry’s business model in the 1980s. This led to a shift in corporate ideology and a new, more efficient, way of targeting and altering the consumption habits of consumers. Throughout the past four decades, the fashion industry has become increasingly saturated with thousands of brands worldwide ranging from inexpensive to luxury brands, focused predominantly on producing ‘in-the-moment’ trends and making a quick turnover in sales. This ultimately led to what we now refer to as fast fashion.
With thousands of brands around the world, each producing upwards of 20 seasons or 52 micro-seasons annually, the extent of fast fashion’s global impact is exponential. While this strategy has led to massive economic success for the industry, accounting for approximately 2% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product and with a global value of approximately $3 trillion, the social and environmental effects it caused along the way have been left with little to no consideration.