Fast fashion basically refers to a model of clothing production centred on frequently launching new clothing lines and shortening clothing seasons, so there is a constant stream of new clothes in store to attract customers. Seasons, rather than lasting a few months, can now be as short as a few weeks. This model was introduced by Zara, and has been adopted by many high-street brands e.g H&M, Primark etc.
Due to the short space of time between new seasons/lines, there is a short space of time within which these clothes are required to be made – paving the way for excessive working hours, forced overtime, and abuse, in attempts by suppliers to meet the demands of brands.
There’s now an emerging bunch of brands who have turned this up a notch, with a model faster than fast fashion -> ultra-fast fashion.
These brands, including, the likes of ASOS, Boohoo, Misguided, Fashion Nova, introduce new lines every 1-2 weeks, responding immediately to new trends, what a celebrity has been seen wearing etc. This is done by moving production closer to their target market and headquarters, making it easier to speed up design, manufacturing, and shipping, as it is all done online. The online factor also saves time and money on overhead costs involved in having stores, and allows retailers to respond quickly to product shortages – with sudden orders being made to the local factories which can then be swiftly available for purchase online.
As an example, Missguided launched 1000 new products each month, and updates its site once a day with new stock. If a popular fashion trend does arise, then the fashion retailer aims to have it available for sale in under a week.
Research has investigated factories based here in the UK, to find deplorable working conditions. Workers are paid as little as £3 an hour, with brands constantly trying to reduce the amount they pay their factories, and imposing sanctions if they can’t meet their impossible targets and random orders.
Factories are also largely dependent on exploiting migrant workers, such as the factories in LA supplying Fashion Nova.