Currently, some of the largest clothing retailers in the world are fast fashion chains. Brands like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 are known for providing a huge variety of clothing in the latest fashions at incredibly low prices. Remember, if something like this sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Amid growing concerns about sustainability, slave labor, and other unethical business practices, fast fashion chains are finally starting to take a hit.
The rise of fast fashion first happened when the way people viewed fashion started to change. Thanks to the internet, fashion trends could be spread around the world almost instantly. The wealth of information generated by clothing blogs, social media websites, and other clothing chains made it easy for companies to analyze trends and have items move from the design stage to the retail stage in as little as five weeks.
As the trend cycle began to move quicker and quicker, consumers wanted more and more clothes. Companies quickly realized that instead of making items meant to last for years, they could make cheap items, drop their prices, and completely take over the market. Some retailers like Fashion Nova launch up to 900 new styles per week, at prices that are a fifth of how much clothing used to cost.
Since about 2000, fast fashion chains have seemed unstoppable. However, with Forever 21 declaring bankruptcy in late 2019, many fashion experts now believe that the industry has achieved a “tipping point.” The sudden downturn is mainly due to consumers becoming aware of the hidden costs behind fast fashion. One big issue is environmental concerns, with the production of polyester clothing being responsible for 706 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. Another significant issue is slave labor, with industry giants being found to use cotton produced by enslaved Muslim minority populations in China, clothing sewn by young children, and products produced in factories that refuse to pay living wages.
Consumers are starting to demand sustainably and ethically produced clothing. Many express that they are willing to pay more for garments that are well made and long-lasting. There is also a growing rise in the secondhand clothing market, as people search to find cheap clothing that does not compromise their morals.
Trends for clothing production are starting to shift from previously favored foreign manufacturing to garments being marketed and produced in the United States. Clothing production was one of the first industries lost to offshore marketing in the 1960s. Current design, technology, and flexibility changes have allowed for US marketing to be more desirable and make its comeback.
Past trends that changed US clothing production started in the 1960s when outsourcing became cheaper for labor, and there were more efficient processes for products available in foreign countries at that time. The majority of production continued in foreign countries when trade policies of the 1990s wiped out most of the restrictions and duties placed on foreign-made clothes. This made foreign markets even more desirable when it came to profiting from clothing production.
Production Shifts to the US
There are many reasons for clothing production to make its current shift to the United States, including technology advances, consumer attitudes, and merchandising techniques. This change is expected to continue making the United States a bigger part of clothing production from design through marketing.
Technology has assisted clothing production in many ways, including production processes and equipment. United States production processes have started using automation technology which includes, computerized production, 3D printing, and robots that can sew called “sewbots.” The United States has made great leaps when it comes to technology and clothing production.
Consumer attitudes and merchandising techniques are a heavy influence on bringing clothing production back to the US. The internet has opened clothing design to be an instant gratification process with companies like Amazon.
Consumers and companies are initiating the production of products in the US through different marketing and campaigning strategies. New processes are helping to make clothing production simpler by requiring less inventory, smaller batches, and quicker turnaround times.
It is exciting that clothing production trends are making a comeback in the United States. This will prove to be a huge asset to our country as clothing production is a large percentage of profit for trade commerce. Clothing production in the US will be favorable for designers located in the states as they will be satisfied in seeing their clothing products-completed from beginning to end within their locale.