Fast Fashion

Gone too quickly?

By LINH NGUYEN | October 13, 2019

Photo by Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

Fast fashion – two words that perfectly encapsulate the rapidly changing fashion industry and constantly evolving consumer tastes. Characterized by affordable clothing with trendy designs, the latter is what has led to the rise of the latest fashion empire.

This swift expansion is largely credited to the way in which fast fashion brands distribute their products: in retail and online stores. Household names such as H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are retail based stores with online components additionally. Incoming brands such as Fashion Nova, Pretty Little Things, and Boohoo are predominantly online.  

Quite frankly, I find fast fashion boring. Admittedly, I do shop at some of the aforementioned brands, but only in times of monetary constraints. Simply put: fast fashion is cheap and thus perfect to wear and toss with little to no guilt.

As far as common knowledge goes, the homogeneous designs, inspired from the latest runway looks, do not allow space for individual style development. The rule of thumb for fast fashion implicitly screams: if you can find an article of clothing that you like in one brand, you can expect to see a near exact replica in another fast fashion store down the street. However, it is this near homogeneous collection that allows them to cater to a mass audience interested in keeping up to date with the latest style trends. 

Interestingly, September saw Forever 21 file for bankruptcy. The news came as a surprise to me. While I have never exactly prefered or enjoyed Forever 21 clothing, the brand was once a pioneer in the fast fashion industry, effectively earning its place as a household name. In addition, Forever 21 has massive global coverage, with around 600 international retail stores. So, how can a brand with such a large reputation, possibly go bankrupt? 

As reported by Business Insider in a letter to its customers, Forever 21 stated that the reason for filing bankruptcy was to help the brand restructure, in order to focus on developing the brand in the future. Global expansion of retail stores put tremendous strain on the brand. In just six years, Forever 21 has extended itself from 7 to 47 countries. 

Perhaps if Forever 21 didn’t have such strong online competitors, their strategy could have been successful. Predominantly online brands such as Fashion Nova are successful because they invest in their social media and online platforms to advertise and sell their products. 

Currently, both Forever 21 and Fashion Nova have the same amount of followers on Instagram: 16.4 million. Yet, what is separating online fashion stores in comparison to traditional retail stores like Forever21, is that they rely heavily on celebrity and influencer endorsements. Fashion Nova has had everyone from small Instagram influencers to Kylie Jenner, endorse or advertise for their brand. 

The brand has further worked with Cardi B twice, and with their 2019 collaboration, they saw an incredible rise in their generated profit. In respect to Forever 21, they have yet to jump on the bandwagon of this advertising method. 

With that being said, Forever 21 is falling behind due to its inability to match current consumer demographics and tastes. Therefore, it is unsurprising that online fast fashion brands are skyrocketing.

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