Last year, the world’s fast fashion market It will rise from $106.42 billion in 2022 to $122.98 billion in 2023. with an annual growth rate of 15.6 percent.
A growing middle class in large populations such as Asia, combined with the rise of e-commerce, is responsible for this growth, including cheaper, faster manufacturing and shipping methods.
For example, China has become the world’s largest fashion market.In the year In 2019, it will overtake the United States. Greater China accounts for a fifth of Japanese retail giant Uniqlo’s global revenue. The company’s sales in Greater China rose nearly 27 percent to $4 billion in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
From 2000 to 2014, clothing production doubled, and between 2000 and 2014, clothing purchased per capita increased by nearly 60 percent. McKinsey & Company.
Asia, which has an abundance of raw materials such as cotton, produces it. More than half Textiles and fabrics of the world. China produces more than a quarter. From these fabrics.
Across almost every apparel sector, consumers are saving about half as much on clothing items as they did 15 years ago. Some assumptions Suggest that shoppers throw away the lowest-priced clothes after seven or eight wears.
Fast fashion has also become a major air polluter. Manufacturing clothes uses natural resources and heats the planet Greenhouse gas emissions.
In general, the fashion industry It is responsible for 8-10 percent of global emissions., basis United Nations – More so than the aviation and shipping industries.
As a result, the European Union has recently announced that it will end fast fashion. Among the proposed policies are a Ban on the loss of unsold textiles.
What are fast fashion brands doing with their unsold clothes?
It’s an open secret that fast fashion brands destroy their unsold clothes.
A group of journalists from a Danish television program Operation X It was revealed in 2017 Swedish brand H&M has been burning up to 12 tons of clothing a year since 2013..
In 2010, The New York Times History is presented A cache of garbage bags containing unsold H&M clothing dumped behind an H&M store on 35th Street in New York. Additional unworn pieces of clothing were found in a nearby Wal-Mart contractor’s dump.
H&M He then issued a statement. Saying that it will not destroy items that are no longer used.
Even luxury brands have been found guilty of destroying unsold goods.
In July 2018, Burberry reported Millions worth of unsold inventory was burned.. In the annual report, the brand explained He destroyed unsold goods Worth up to 37 million dollars. Louis Vuitton, Coach, Michael KorAnd Juicy couture They are also attached to the action.
Burning and cutting Fashion brands are the two most popular ways to dispose of unused clothes, followed by landfill. Some brands send their unused clothes to be destroyed in developing countries in violation of regulations in their own region.
A city in India, Panipat, It specializes in shredding discarded clothes.example.
Why don’t fast fashion brands recycle their unsold clothes?
The main reason brands destroy their unsold clothes is because of how cost-effective it is to recycle them. The reality is that most clothes are simply not meant to be reused; Timo Rissason, Associate Professor at the University of Technology Sydney, says:.
Even seemingly simple clothing can contain many materials, with fiber blends such as cotton/polyester and cotton/elastane being common, making recycling difficult.
Different fibers also have different capacities for recycling. Natural fibers such as wool or cotton can be mechanically recycled. In this process, the fabric is torn and re-spun into yarn, from which new fabric can be crocheted or crocheted.
But the fibers become shorter during the cutting process, resulting in low quality yarn and fabric. Recycled cotton is often blended with virgin cotton to ensure better yarn quality.
Most of the fabrics are dyed with chemicals, which can be recycled. If the original fabric is a mixture of many colors, the new thread or fabric needs to be melted.
A complex garment, like a puffer jacket, easily contains more than five different materials, including buttons and zippers. If the goal of recycling is to get as close to the original material as possible, the parts of the garment must first be separated. This requires labor and can be expensive.
Sending clothes to clothing recycling centers also costs money. Therefore, it is often easier to cut the clothes and change them to a lower quality product, for example, it can be used for heat protection. According to a Bloomberg report, less than 1 percent of used clothing is recycled into new clothing.
Fast fashion brands have a financial incentive to destroy unused items to avoid payment. Inventory tax. Inventory tax must be paid by business owners on items that remain unsold at the end of the year. Basically, all damaged goods can be considered as tax write off.
Another reason brands destroy unused textiles is to maintain their uniqueness and not devalue their brand image. This is especially true for luxury fashion brands.
Luxury fashion is worn as a status symbol, so burning excess inventory—as opposed to selling it at a discount— It maintains the brand’s value and sense of uniqueness..
Many brands fear the “grey market” where genuine designer goods are bought cheaply and sold to others. In one case, Richmont, the parent of high-end watch brands such as Cartier and Montblanc, was embroiled in a controversy after destroying more than $494 million worth of designer timepieces.
What are fashion brands in Asia doing to reduce their environmental impact?
Zerrin, Singapore and Southeast Asia’s first marketplace to cater exclusively to independent and sustainable designers, claims to operate largely on a consignment model.
Under this arrangement, no waste will be left over from their online sales or pop-up events and any unsold product will remain the property of the brands.
“Over the years, many of our brands have found creative ways to improve past collections or products that didn’t sell well, including using leftover fabric for things like hats, bags or jewelry,” said Susanna Jaffer, founder and CEO. of ZERRIN
TELAstory, clothing The design, sourcing and manufacturing co-op in the Philippines says it doesn’t send its unsold clothes to landfills. They are turned into new products like hats and bags or donated directly to local communities in the Philippines where there are disasters like floods and fires.
“Even the smallest textile scraps are turned into useful and salable products in collaboration with the artisan communities we work with in the Philippines,” said Hannah Neumann, co-founder of TELAstory.