Rethinking the future of e-commerce and fast fashion
“We spend our entire lives in clothes, from the day we are born to the day we die,” she says Anna Vladimirskathe manager of ShopParty. Today, the fashion industry is an integral part of the global economy, and clothing is connected to almost everything.
The value of the global fashion industry is estimated at around US$3 trillion, accounting for 2% of global GDP. Furthermore, the global apparel market revenue was estimated at US$1.5 trillion in 2021 and is projected to grow to US$2 trillion by 2026. The fashion sector employs more than 75 million people worldwide and has seen spectacular growth over the past few decades, as apparel production nearly doubled between 2014 and 2021. According to McKinsey, consumers are currently buying 60% more clothes than in 2014, but they are keeping them only half the time. Therefore, the lifetime value of fashion apparel continues to decrease year by year.
Unfortunately, as the fashion industry booms, more and more attention is being drawn to the impressive range of adverse environmental impacts the industry is responsible for. Today, the fashion industry loses around $500 billion in fashion waste and $120 in fashion returns; Fashion production causes 10% of CO2 emissions, dries up water sources and pollutes rivers and streams. In addition, 85% of all textiles end up in landfills each year, and significant amounts of microplastics are released into the oceans when certain garments are laundered. Overall, the fashion industry is considered the second most polluting industry in the world.
Fast fashion also has a human price: garment workers, particularly women in developing countries, are paid meager wages and work long hours in appalling conditions. The use of chemicals in clothing production also raises serious health concerns for both industrial workers and consumers. Other health problems also result from environmental pollution.
The environmental and social costs of the fashion industry have forced the world to rethink fast fashion and underscore the need for more sustainable business models and practices.
These drastic ecological and social consequences of the fashion industry are exactly the reason why the fashion industry should be reinvented and rethought. Currently, the fashion industry lacks marketplace technology for meaningful brands to meet conscious consumers. Platforms that would only work with sustainable brands with ethical values that advance the SDG goals through their business models. Platforms that would use data, analytics and consumer feedback to inform brands’ production and manufacturing decisions to prevent oversupply and ensure on-demand production. Platforms that would inspire change and lead to positive externalities such as less hunger, less pollution, more education and social equality.
ShopParty’s Anna Vladymyrska believes that the entire fashion business model of today should be built on the concept of the multiplier effect. It should focus on women’s businesses precisely because women tend to have a strong multiplier effect in their communities. It is well known that women reinvest a higher proportion of their budgets in family well-being, e.g. B. Education, immunizations, sanitation, nutrition and universal health coverage, leading to better outcomes for their families and consequently their communities, and ultimately promoting the well-being of their regions and their countries – resulting in a powerful multiplier effect.
Such business models are extensively supported by academic research. The economics of gender studies proves that for every dollar invested in women, society reaps a 5- to 10-fold return, dramatically increasing economic productivity. Knowledge and understanding of various social, economic and cultural aspects should drive the fashion industry today, resulting in positive externalities and maximum multiplier effects.
Today’s fashion industry is in dire need of new and emerging concepts that aim to drastically transform the fashion industry and inspire other sectors to adopt unique, sustainable visions and inspire other sectors to act and make changes. The fashion industry has the tools like no other to inspire the entire business community to advocate and fight for sustainability, reducing hunger, reducing pollution and promoting education and social equality worldwide.
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