The Death of Fast Fashion Can’t Come Soon Enough
Our dependence on cheap overseas products has become painfully obvious. We need to take steps to reshore entire industries, and we need to act now. Fashion should be at the top of the list. Why? More than ever, apparel consumers are investigating where things are made, how they’re made, and who’s making them. They’re demanding transparency on fair labor practices, including human rights and forced labor issues. The most notable recent example of this type of passive consumer activism is the Xinjiang cotton boycott, which grew out of concern for the Chinese government’s mistreatment of the country’s Uyghur minority. Fast-fashion companies quickly found themselves in an impossible situation. The boycott pleased their western consumers, but many brands found themselves banished from Chinese stores and e-commerce websites when they complied. It’s no surprise, then, that nearshoring (or “deglobalization”) is gaining momentum as supply chains have proven less resilient than advertised. This trend has been intensified as information comes to light about human rights abuses across industries — not just in apparel, and not only in Xinjiang. The “conscious capitalism” movement can be seen virtually everywhere and is often coupled with the “craft” movement that has given rise to farm-to-table marketplaces and restaurants, craft breweries and distilleries, Etsy shops, and more. We’re witnessing the emergence of a new era in which companies are being forced to re-examine longstanding business practices. Mass is out; fast is next.