Reasons To Buy Vintage Clothing Online Rather Than Fast Fashion Online
It’s 2021, which means the ever-impending doom of the Fast Fashion industry will be abolished, right?
Wrong. During the beginning of COVID-19 itself, to our present day, online shopping has sky-rocketed. How? What’s happening?
Pre-pandemic, in some under-developed countries, the presence of online shopping hardly existed for lack of digital infrastructure. Moreover, COVID-19 rapidly provoked the need for countries to forcefully assimilate themselves into the industry's realities. For example, “Mexico, fewer than half of adults have bank accounts and less than 5% of retail sales occurred online before the pandemic”, according to Digital Commerce 360. Companies within Mexico have responded to this reality, and “grown their web-sales by 54%” since the outbreak of COVID-19, making-up years of time.
Additionally, the recent accessibility to buy-now-pay-later programs allocates individuals to progressively purchase the garment, unconsciously allowing for even further purchasing thereafter. One program, Klarna, allows installments, it’s as simple as solely entering your email to start the transaction. The thought process is simple. The marketing is brilliant. We want what we can’t have, no?
According to Klarna, “merchants using the tool in the US reported a 68 percent increase in average order value, a 44 percent increase in conversion compared to credit cards and 21 percent higher purchase frequency”. I put down a partial amount of cash, and little by little, I can afford this. But what happens when we think about this payment shift in a long-term sense?
The ease of program’s like Klarna have become too easy for consumers to pass up. But, think about how tragic this reality is. We aren’t educated, we aren’t given the truth, and we aren’t knowledgeable about our own personal impact. How are we really affecting Fast Fashion’s growth?
Vintage Clothing Is Still New Clothing To You
Let’s define ‘Fast Fashion’ and understand its means and origins. The Cambridge Dictionary defines Fast Fashion as, “clothes that are made and sold cheaply, so that people can buy new clothes often”. That being said, this definition fairly blatantly lays down the line for our habits concerning Fast Fashion and purchasing.
From the House of Common Environmental Audit Committee, “Clothing production is the third biggest manufacturing industry after the automotive and technology industries. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined”. Combined!
A fairly innocent act of a quick and cheap purchase, paved the way for a toxic and impactful habit. I sure could bet that in that initial moment, this undefined term of the act of fast shopping felt pretty neat, I mean, who wouldn’t want to both find something trendy and stylish, at an incredibly affordable price?
Let’s talk about Zara, and it’s origins. Zara’s founder, Amancio Ortega’s history prior to his formidable brand, tends to get lost in the association with our connotations. According to The Harvard Business School, “Ortega, during his youth, was an errand boy for a La Coruña shirtmaker in 1949. As he moved up through that company, he apparently developed a heightened awareness of how costs piled up through the apparel chain. In 1963, he founded Confecciones Goa”.
Eventually, Ortega’s interests spiked enough in the production of garments, that he developed a brand that would feed off the desire to better creation and retail of clothing -- alas, Zara was born in 1975. “By 1989, it opened its first store in New York, where it was intended to be a display window and in 1990, its first store in Paris. Between 1992 and 1997, it entered about one country per year”.
One of Zara’s thriving points of marketing tactics was the mere presentation of a small amount of each product, creating a sense of ‘scarcity’ to the consumer. The mindset of ‘buy now or it will be gone tomorrow’ initiated growth. The deliberacy of undersupply, as well as a quick turnover in a product being replaced with another, created a sense of panic, per se.
Yet, what happened when Zara made mistakes with products? Not much at all. The amount of supply Zara possessed was never enough to cause significant damage to the brand. “Returns to the distribution center were either shipped to and sold at other Zara stores or disposed of through a small, separate chain of close-out stores near the distribution center. The target was to minimize the inventories that had to be sold at marked-down prices in Zara stores during the sales period that ended each season”.
Boohoo, a Fast Fashion brand, “told the UK’s House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee that its cheaper £5 dresses are a marketing tool to attract customers to visit the website and that these loss-leading items make up only 80 of over 6,700 dress styles on the site” according to Vogue Business. So in other words, attract consumers to the website with an extremely cheap incentive, and in transaction, luring individuals to spend more time on the website, leading to further purchasing. Just think about the corruption of this for a moment. A vicious cycle. Break this cycle by purchasing cheap vintage clothing in canada.
PrettyLittleThing, a Fast Fashion brand owned by Boohoo, sparked much talk / controversy this past November of 2020 during extreme Black Friday sales. And when I say extreme, I mean ludicrous. If you aren’t familiar with this story, I will briefly sum it up. PrettyLittleThing advertised sales of 99 percent off. Yes, 99 percent.
What does that look like? It’s buying a jersey shift dress for £0.08. It’s a ‘recycled’ bikini top for £0.08, and a bandeau crop top for £0.06. Let that sink in. Think about the process, foundation, and existence of the garment, and inherently, where it is going - in most instances, the landfill.
Moreover, what may have been one of the worst elements of their site was the “New In Today” tab. I had never seen this before, and it really put what I’ve explained into perspective. Just today, 94 new items have been listed. Add the range of sizes and color options to that. We are talking about thousands of new garments listed in a single day.
Recycle Using Thrift Shops
Side note: as they claim pieces as ‘recycled’, we allow ourselves to deem it permissible. And we allow ourselves to feel better about what we’re purchasing, there’s some sort of alleviation within our brains. But what does the company actually mean when they plaster ‘recycled’ on their garments? What is their supply chain like? No answers to be found.
From PrettyLittleThing’s ‘recycled’ collection, “Recycled by PrettyLittleThing is formed using recycled yarn from plastic bottles and non-toxic fabric dyes and ink. We’re taking one small step to making the world a better place”, is the product description. Yet, no transparency within their website, nothing.
They could tell us their bodycon knit dress was ‘locally sourced from the purest water in the world’. Our human flaws? We might choose to believe them. We have absolutely no idea what goes on behind closed doors. There is nothing that requires brands to be held accountable for the claims they make.
So today, 2021, the blossom of a year that still feels out of reach, who is shopping Fast Fashion? More than you’d think given the transparency environmental organizations have brought to light within the industry. Why is it difficult for us to evolve into more conscious means of shopping?
The Best Way to Buy Sustainable Fashion is through Vintage and Thrift Stores
I’m 25 years old, and I know for a fact, I didn’t grow up with the exposure to the internet / technical world as anyone growing up today has. We didn’t even own a desktop computer until 2008 - it took 12 minutes to turn on.
Obviously, every generation can claim the same towards the next, but Gen Z has something the rest of us never experienced during our youth - the internet itself.
Forbes notes that “62 percent of Generation Z, who will begin entering the workforce this year, prefer to buy from sustainable brands”. But I can’t help but wonder, is the heightened exposure to ‘sustainable’ shopping / brands only allowing for increased purchasing?
None of us would like to associate ourselves as part of the problem, but in the end, the lack of knowledge we have in the cycle of fashion itself hinders our overall perception of ‘ethical shopping’. We have the power to change the fashion industry, but we first need to know the definition of truth. We need to take off our £0.08 blinders.
Stay-tuned for follow-up Blogs regarding Fashion Greenwashing, Circular Fashion, Garment Workers, Thrifting / Recycling Programs, Micro-plastics, and the Global South Clothing Dump.