Stronger Than Fast-Fashion, The Ultra Fast-Fashion Phenomenon

Despite the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment and the numerous scandals relating to the working conditions of workers, fast fashion is gradually giving way to ultra fast fashion. These brands, such as Shein, offer even lower prices and ever more numerous collections, pushing consumption. This overproduction is confronted with a new mode of consumption, slow fashion. A reasoned fashion, integrating the social and environmental issues of our time. ELLOZZE is part of it. Zoom in on the phenomenon of fast fashion and ultra fast fashion.

In the beginning: the principle of fast fashion

How fast fashion works

Fast fashion, a pervasive trend in the fashion industry, is based on a very rapid renewal of the clothes sold. Ready-to-wear brands even produce a collection every fortnight. A fast fashion brand can produce up to 36 collections per year, unlike a classic brand which only releases 4.

The marketing of these brands is based on three criteria: online sales, collections at unbeatable prices and a young target.

The way fast fashion works is based on specific characteristics :

  • Very low production costs at the price of unethical design in developing countries such as Bangladesh. While a worker works more than 12 hours a day, he will only get 0.18€ on the t-shirt he has made, which will be sold for 29€.

  • A frantic pace of production to offer more and more collections per month. To achieve this, the brands resort to plagiarism of famous fashion houses, but also to the mistreatment of workers. They work at an unbearable pace and in disastrous conditions.

  • The use of poor raw materials. Fast fashion clothes are made of synthetic materials, such as nylon, acrylic or polyamide. Moreover, the finishing touches are fragile, as they are made on a production line. The lack of quality results in low durability and the need to renew one's wardrobe periodically.

  • A powerful marketing investment to encourage over-consumption. Brands invest heavily in advertising, especially on social networks, to create desire and craving.

Zara, the leader in fast fashion

The beginnings of fast fashion appeared in 1975, with the creation of the Spanish brand Zara. The cuts were inspired by those of the great couturiers. This new way of conceiving fashion launched fast fashion for good at the beginning of the 1990s. In the 2000s, Zara, like many other ready-to-wear brands, became real empires. Brands such as H&M, Mango and Asos are among them.

From fast fashion to ultra fast fashion

Ultra fast fashion: even lower prices, even faster production

In recent years, the fashion world has seen the emergence of ultra fast fashion, surpassing fast fashion on the principle of disposable fashion.

The principle is simple:

  • Sales exclusively online.

  • Delivery times are even shorter and prices even lower than those of fast fashion brands. For example, a pair of trousers sold for €30 at Zara or Primark will be sold for €10 at Pretty Little Things.

  • New collections, no longer monthly, but weekly or even daily.

  • Limited stocks to give an impression of scarcity and encourage purchases.

  • Constant promotions to attract more and more customers. Where promotion is originally intended to clear unsold stock, the principle of constant promotions is contrary to commercial ethics. The lower the production costs, the higher the promotions can be.

Today, Pretty Little Things has a turnover of 400M and has managed to reduce the production and delivery time to just 12 days.

These permanent stimulators make you want to buy in a frenzy. Here, prices are so low that buyer's remorse no longer exists. You always have the impression that you are getting a good deal.

A young and impressionable target

The success of ultra fast fashion brands is based largely on their marketing to a young population. Thanks to social networks in particular, they have been able to create a buzz among an influential age group that consumes fashion at low prices.

Almost half of all Instagram and Tiktok posts are dedicated to fashion and beauty. Ultra fast fashion brands have therefore been quick to use this platform to increase their sales. They have teamed up with numerous ambassadors whose mission is to promote their collections directly. By recommending their purchases, they encourage users of the social network to order in turn.

Moreover, since it is possible to buy directly on Instagram, the buying process of these brands has been greatly simplified.

Shein: the master of ultra fast fashion

Shein, the leader in ultra fast fashion, built a real-time retail model to reduce the time from design to production. This time has been reduced from three weeks to just three days.

Shein collects and analyses customer data and social media trends in real time to create new designs in an instant. Production is no longer done in large quantities, but by the hundred.

The consequences of fast-fashion

The environmental impact of fast fashion

Fast fashion is an extremely polluting industry with a catastrophic carbon footprint. The textile sector destroys the soil and threatens the fauna and flora. Indeed, the massive cultivation of cotton, the use of non-renewable and petro-sourced materials, the chemical and water-intensive processing and the massive production of waste are a disaster for the planet. With millions of tons of clothes produced each year, fast fashion generates a lot of greenhouse gases.

This has a direct impact on biodiversity, climate change, water contamination and soil drying.

Every year, 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases are emitted by the textile industry. This has a greater impact than international flights and shipping combined. For years, organisations like Greenpeace have been fighting to protect the environment from the harmful effects of the textile industry.

The social impact of fast fashion

The production of cheap clothes hides men, women and even children from developing countries, who work in deplorable conditions, where the social minimums are not respected at all.

Although many scandals have highlighted these shameful practices, these brands continue to grow... Oxfam France, a citizen's movement fighting against inequality and poverty, fights every day to combat these bad labour practices.

The psychological impact of fast fashion

Some studies have shown that fast fashion can be associated with addiction. The simple act of doing a deal produces dopamine, the "pleasure molecule", in our brain. This neurotransmitter is also produced when we smoke a cigarette, drink coffee or use drugs.

Fast fashion brands use the psychology of consumers on several levels:

  • Using celebrities and influencers to get closer to consumers.

  • By running permanent promotions, creating a false sense of urgency.

  • Mixing cheap items with more expensive items in the shop to disrupt the perception of value.

  • By selling poor quality clothing with a limited life cycle, it encourages frequent replacement.

It is therefore through cognitive biases that fast fashion has managed to create a real dependency among consumers.

How to fight against fast fashion?

The best way to fight fast fashion and ultra fast fashion is to integrate a more ethical and moderate mode of consumption. The idea is to consume less and better, with the certainty of preserving the planet but also the people.

Choosing slow wear is :

  • Buy local by wearing clothes designed in France and in Europe. At ELLOZZE, clothes are designed in France, in workshops in Paris, in small series.

  • Take care of your clothes: avoid over-washing your clothes and follow the washing and care instructions. With this in mind, ELLOZZE works in partnership with Tilli, the first home sewing service, which can intervene to transform your pieces and give them a second life.

  • Look at the labels: check for markings, such as labels, places of production and materials used.

  • Favour second-hand clothes: before buying new, check on platforms if you can find the desired garment second-hand. At ELLOZZE, we offer a rental service in partnership with Les Cachotières.

  • Sorting: sorting allows you to get rid of the parts you don't use so that, for example, you can donate them to associations that fight against poverty.

  • A minimalist wardrobe made up of basics: they are timeless and go with everything! Our advice? A maximum of basics and a few original pieces to spice up your outfit. At ELLOZZE you will find both: jumpsuits with a touch of madness and timeless basics that you can keep indefinitely.

  • Accepting to buy more expensive but fairer: responsible fashion is more expensive than fast fashion. Why? It is made in France or Europe, which means that it pays its workers fair wages and uses noble materials and textiles. In return, it guarantees a much longer lifespan, which is good for the planet.