The sustainability of the ‘Fast Fashion’ industry is coming under increased scrutiny in the UK. As a result, the governments Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is demanding talks with leaders at some of the UK’s leading retailers.
The BBC recently reported that representatives from brands including Boohoo, ASOS, and Burberry were summoned to be questioned by the EAC. Questioning was firmly focused on the environmental impact of the clothing industry and whether the fast fashion business model is sustainable.
Online Fast Fashion Sustainability
The enquiry is focused on how companies can justify charging such small amounts for clothing and still make a profit. Regardless of whether a business markets itself as ‘eco-friendly’, there should be a responsibility to ensure the business model is sustainable for the planet.
Online retailers are always fighting the battle of maintaining a healthy profit margin. Offering a competitive shipping offer is tough, so when you also add on the product manufacturing costs, its difficult to see how a $5 t-shirt is profitable.
Unless however, the supply chain is solely about price, with no thought for the environmental or human impact. A business model focused on volume and creating ‘single use’ clothing items is the major flaw with Fast Fashion.
Fast Fashion = Single Use
The poor quality and the associated low prices of Fast Fashion encourage precisely this “single use” behaviour. Whilst the retailers disagree,
“Primark has never done any significant advertising at all. That can save us £100m to £150m, compared to some of our larger rivals. That goes straight into the price. That keeps our pricing low. It’s our business model that takes us to a £2 T-shirt.”Paul Lister, Head of Ethical Trade & Sustainability, Primark
Clothing is now the second biggest pollutant on the planet. Both the fashion industry and we as
The detailed EAC inquiry can be viewed here.
Further reading: Everlane battles against fast fashion. Price transparency in retail. Is this the key to sustainability?