From “fast fashion” to “ultra fast fashion”: the toxic cycle that devastates the environment

Elizabeth Smith

In recent decades, the fashion sector has undergone a radical and unprecedented transformation with the emergence of the “Fast Fashion” phenomenon, characterized by rapid and economically accessible production of clothing items, according to the dictates of the latest trends.

An approach developed to satisfy the growing demand for increasingly fashionable garments, without major sacrifices – other than quality – and which had its disastrous evolution into Ultra Fast Fashion.

Meaning of ultra fast fashion

Ultra fast fashion translates into production cycles that follow one another at a dizzying pace, from design to sale, up to consumption, both of clothing and accessories, constantly stimulating impulsive and compulsive purchasing.

In practice, if until some time ago fashion seemed accessible to us thanks to brands such as Zara or H&M (just to mention the best known), today it has become “ultra low cost”, due to brands that have redefined the very way of which we conceive it.

The leader in this type of approach (but unfortunately not the only one) is the Chinese giant Shein which, with its e-commerce, places up to 10 thousand items on the market a day.

The ultra fast fashion industry

Shein has a very aggressive approach, which brings together around 6,000 Chinese clothing factories, relying on internal management software that collects real-time feedback on which items are selling the most and which are least, in order to update what it seems like an infinite catalog practically on request.

All seasoned with an eye-catching advertising operation based on a team of influencers from all over the world.

The Chinese company, in fact, bombards Generation Z through platforms such as TikTok, with items at rock-bottom prices, promoted and made even more attractive by micro and macro influencers, who have a strong hold on young minds.

The environmental impact

As brands compete to stay ahead of the frenzy of the latest trends, the constant expansion of this industry model raises important questions about its short-term but especially long-term sustainability.

The environmentally unsustainable impact, in fact, is a cause for growing concern, especially due to practically non-existent policies.

Activists and environmental organizations such as Greenpeace are highlighting the negative impact of the Ultra Fast Fashion Industry on the environment, starting from the intensive use of unsustainable materials, up to the production of enormous quantities of textile waste, as well as the depletion of resources.

Read also: 10 documentaries on sustainability in fashion

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