Fast-fashion could be slowly falling out of fashion in favor of more sustainable apparel if the sentiments expressed in a new survey from the Fashion Retail Academy in London are an accurate sign of a consumer shift.
Around 39 percent of shoppers polled said that they would rather buy expensive clothing that lasted longer, and one in eight even said they would choose expensive, longer-lasting clothing over cheaper options that were more fashionable, according to the survey, which was reported on by Just Style. The population polled was between the ages of 18 and 35, encompassing some Gen Z and some Millennial shoppers.
And younger shoppers seem to be slightly less interested in fast-fashion with those in the 23 to 26 cohort being five percent more likely to buy expensive, long-lasting clothing than 31- to 35-year-olds.
As evidence of a trend away from throwaway apparel, Lee Lucas, principal of the Fashion Retail Academy noted that Patagonia, a brand with a lifetime guarantee on its products, has been growing steadily in popularity.
The survey’s findings aren’t the first sign to have people speculating that fast-fashion fever might have peaked. In 2016, for instance, retailers like H&M and Uniqlo began to report financial difficulties and slowdowns. But, while those retailers have retooled their operations and concepts in turnaround attempts, others, most notably Zara, have risen to the fore, indicating that H&M and Uniqlo’s woes may be retailer-specific and not a bellwether for consumer preference.
Fast-fashion has also grown controversial among consumers. Socially and environmentally conscious customers have taken issue with factors like human rights abuses in the fast-fashion supply chain and the amount of waste produced by purchasing clothes just to throw them out after a season, if not more quickly.
Some in the fast-fashion world, however, are doubling down on speed. Recently, a few pure-play online retailers like ASOS, Misguided and boohoo have begun to tout their ability to get new merchandise out in a blazingly fast two to four weeks.
Beyond getting new merchandise produced more quickly, retailers like Zara have focused on speeding other elements of their operation, such as click-and-collect.