We have all got used the fact that we can go and buy catwalk copies at a couple of High Street stores like Zara and H&M for a fraction of the price… but the question is for how much longer can fast fashion survive, and can we survive without it.
I am working on a Spring School project with International students at Audencia Management School in Nantes over the next 2 weeks on the future of fast fashion, working with the 2 afore-mentioned brands and pushing them into 2025. I know, it’s a long way ahead, but I’m using the great resources of Forum of the Future and their Fashion Futures Scenarios to help me.
They, with the help of Levi Strauss and Company, they have developed 4 possible future scenarios:
Slow is Beautiful – as it says, slowing things down, considering materials, techniques, longevity, health, pay.
Patchwork Planet – balance of powers, Asia vs USA, regional, local, hyper-local fashion
Community Couture – second-hand, vintage and pre-loved clothes are valuable, giving back for re-use.
Techno-chic – smart clothes, smart marketing, low-carbon, cheap, hi-tech, re-manufactured.
We are already seeing the start of all of them, but how far will they go?
This is the task for my students, to take one scenario, choose one brand and see how far they will go. But their job is also to imagine how they will develop a communications campaign in the future, based on the scenario.
Their first exercise, was to consider the scenario they wanted to work with and imagine the newspaper headlines for 2025. I use this technique a lot to open workshops on future thinking. They had to develop headlines and find an image to bring it to life. This then becomes the basis of a future brand story about their chosen brand.
There are many issues around Fast Fashion which seem difficult to sustain. Materials, manufacturing, processes, natural resources, chemicals and hazardous waste, transportation and logistics, health, fair trade, treating people with respect.
I am finding it difficult to come to terms with all of this in the face of fashion, but perhaps that’s because I am getting older and don’t need to wear the latest cat-walk offerings. I’d be interested to have your views.