Ruth Croft looks into the world of fast fashion, and why the CEO of Zalando is urging the industry to take action against it immediately.
Fast fashion is arguably one of the biggest industries in the world, despite the negative connotations it has amassed over the last few years. It is a term that describes the designing, manufacturing and marketing of mass-produced clothing. The products are usually priced at a low cost, meaning that for the majority of people shopping on the high street, the designs are ideal.
However, fast fashion is a problem because of its effect on the environment, as well as its association with severe manual labour. Every year, the fashion industry produces 80 billion designs – the majority of which end up in landfill or are destroyed with harmful methods. When society is presented with clothes that are cheap, it’s likely because they were made with poor quality material which will disintegrate after a few weeks. People are left with no choice but to throw them away, but due to the fast-paced nature of our world, very few take the time to recycle them properly. Then they need to buy new clothes, and the fast fashion rotation continues.
However, in recent years, many have expressed their determination to break free of this. Such a person is Robert Gentz, the CEO of Zalando, the most influential online fashion retail outlet in Europe. His company revealed that they made 8 billion Euros last year, but that they wish to use that power to make more sustainable fashion and encourage others to follow suit. Gentz himself has spoken about the dangers of fast fashion, and how it should be fully eradicated in the next ten years.
He claimed that “the fashion industry is part of a global sustainability problem,” and that “eventually there will be no alternative” to an eco-friendlier industry.
Zalando was founded in 2008, and has since grown so much that they are the leading online retail brand in European countries. In the last few years, they have made significant strides to eliminate single-use plastic in their manufacturing, as well as attempting to work as sustainably as possible in other sectors. In a recent study, it was revealed that 16% of Zalando’s online revenue is produced by sustainable commodities, but that they hope to increase that number by 25% in the next two years.
Gentz also had this to say: “When I will be thinking back in 20 years’ time, I don’t want to look just on a big company but on a big company that used its size to shape things more sensibly.”