Retail

Is Fast Fashion Fizzling?

For a while there, it really did look like fast fashion was actually reshaping the fashion retail business, because if millennials want anything, it’s ever more options.

But as sales at some of the more popular fast-fashion brands begin to cool off or slow down and retailers increasingly shift their gaze to the coveted generation after millennials — we’re calling them Gen Z now — it appears more and more as though the fast fashion craze was just that — a fad with no real staying power.

The shipping firm that handled the majority of orders for Forever 21, EZ Worldwide Express, stopped shipping Forever 21 products because the retailer’s low-price products weren’t profitable for the company to ship any longer, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

WSJ reported that EZ Worldwide Express saw a “drastic” reduction of several hundred thousand dollars in weekly sales to Forever 21 compared to the same period last year.

After ditching Forever 21, which made up almost half of EZ Worldwide Express’ annual revenue, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in January.

“Forever 21 and EZ Worldwide Express came to an agreement to separate, after EZ’s difficult financial conditions meant that it could no longer provide the same delivery services. Forever 21 looked at different financing options to assist EZ during its difficult financial time in order to continue the relationship but were unable to come to an agreement. Accordingly, Forever 21 transitioned to other delivery providers and accepted the termination agreement with EZ, in order to continue to provide the exceptional experience our customers have come to expect from us,” Forever 21 said in a statement about its dealings with EZ Worldwide Express that the retailer sent to several media outlets.

Earlier this month, Urban Outfitters also unveiled a new line of “fairly exclusive” and limited edition apparel known as Rework. The in-house clothing line made from “limited runs of remnant fabric” was seen by many as a slap in the face to the fast-fashion industry, which relies primarily on “massive shipments of cheap clothing, overseas outsourcing to the detriment of local manufacturing, environmentally irresponsible practices and a staggering lack of accountability for all of the above,” according to Racked.

In stark contrast to this trend, Urban Outfitter’s Rework line uses “conscious” reused and recycled materials to make fairly limited, somewhat unique apparel.

“Sourced and made in the U.K., it’s a great way for Urban Outfitters to support local businesses and claim back accountability within the industry, whilst creating aspirational and timeless clothing,” Urban Outfitters said in a press release announcing the new line.

The writing of the cooling off or slowing down of the fast-fashion craze is all over the wall if you just observe the signs.

H&M, one of the industry leaders in fast fashion that was increasingly helping malls push out large “anchor stores” in exchange for more intimate and personalized shopping experiences, saw its sales rise by only 5 percent in the second quarter of this year, despite opening 438 more stores in the past year, according to CNBC.

And reports continue to circulate of troubles for Forever 21’s business model. In addition to the EZ Worldwide Express setback, New York Post reported in April that Forever 21 wasn’t paying all of its bills on time and some creditors were no longer willing to work with the retailer.

Heck, there’s so much unsold or unwanted fast-fashion apparel lying around that a whole global cottage industry has sprung up around the recycling of fast fashion.

The Guardian also took a look at the “hidden trade in our secondhand clothes given to charity” and noted that Britain alone traffics in the trading of 351 million kilograms of these types of clothes per year, usually sending them to poorer countries, like Benin, Ghana, Pakistan, Ukraine and Poland.

The Guardian pegged the value of the global clothing trade at more than $3.7 billion annually, mostly fueled by fast-fashion castoffs.

The fast-fashion fad was fun while it lasted, dominating the global fashion industry for several years, but it looks as though millennials and their younger Gen Z cohorts are already starting to move on to the next fad, whatever that may be.

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