Fast fashion is everywhere. Some of the largest brands have been built around high volumes and low prices, with rapidly shifting product lines. With clothing becoming cheaper and cheaper, shoppers have generally stopped caring about ordering more than they need and this has led to a shift in clothing shopping habits.
But there is a much greater cost to cheap fashion than many shoppers realise; how much it damages the environment.
According to a 2018 study by the United Nations, the industry generates up to 20% of global water waste and sends around 21 billion tonnes of textiles to landfill. Catering to the demand for fast fashion, brands have been pumping out countless collections for their devoted shoppers.
Though these problems have not gone unnoticed. Environmental voices used to be marginalised, but this is starting to change. Brands now face major repercussions if they fail to listen to those calling for change, and social media has begun to scrutinise the ethics and overall sustainability and created a call for change.
The central question is how companies can do this in practice. With entire business models depending on low costs and high volumes, it is not enough just to hope for companies to do the right thing against their financial interests. But new technologies hold out hope that businesses can thrive whilst also doing the right thing, changing the way we access fashion altogether.
One area which is starting to gain traction is helping shoppers to buy things that they will keep and love with online try-on. Retailers are all too familiar with the cycle of clothes being bought and returned when they are deemed unsuitable by the shopper. But by showing the shopper what they might look like in the outfit before they buy, companies like Zyler aim to make sure the right clothes get bought in the first place.
The rise of digital fashion experiences is raising the value of online shopping, with tools such as Zyler assisting retailers by personalising fashion, reducing returns, and increasing sales. Zyler’s integration with clothing websites is the perfect example of technology redefining the face of fashion.
Technology is also reshaping what Fashion Months will likely look like in the future. London Fashion Week, which usually holds its clothing trade show physically, was held digitally last June. Ready-to-wear fashion and straight-off-the-runway style means rapid production often at the expense of workers, communities and the environment. London Fashion Week 2020 saw ethical brands dominating the runway in a way that has not been seen before. We are seeing a change in many ways that highlight the importance of sustainability, and by introducing digital fashion and virtual fashion experiences, we will be able to see the fashion landscape retain its economical scale by following the urgency of digitalisation at scale.
There is an imperative need for innovation if retailers are to engrain sustainability into the fashion mindset. Technologies such as Zyler are helping to minimise necessary production by promoting their virtual try-on solution. The integration of Zyler into the retailer website reduces the surplus created by customers buying more than what they need, with the intention of returning what does not suit or fit them.
For fashion retailers that want to remain competitive in a post-pandemic market, early adoption of solutions such as Zyler will allow retailers to remain relevant in a sustainable world, and for customers to continue to engage with the brand in a personal way.