The global fast fashion market made $31.4 billion dollars in 2020, a small decline from the $35.6 billion made in 2019 according to, Intrado. The economic shutdown across the globe due to the COVID-19 outbreak was the main cause for the small dip in the market. But nonetheless tens of millions of people are purchasing their clothing mainly online everyday, with no thought of the environmental and ethical consequences attached.
The process of the fashion supply chain involves in production, and distribution of commercial items, which includes every stage from material supply through product manufacture.
What Is The Fashion Supply Chain
The fashion supply chain consists of many stages of production that first include, growing natural resources and raw materials to create fibers. Those fibers are then harvested for the weaving/knitting process, to weaving them into the fabric, the fabric is then dyed, cut, and garments are crafted from there. Once the garments are ready, they go off to retail stores where consumers can purchase them. The fashion industry is labor-intensive, as it involves millions of people around the world, using massive amounts of water, chemicals, oil, and is overall one of the most polluting industries according to, Business Insider.
When we think of things that contribute to our own carbon footprints, we might think about our usage of fossil fuels and single-use plastics. It is a surprise to learn the clothing we wear have a significant environmental impact. According to the World Wildlife Fund, it can take approximately 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to make a single cotton t-shirt. The fashion industry is also the second-biggest consumer of water, based on a report from CNBC.
Why We Must Pay Atention to the Supply Chain
The fashion supply chain is critical to the success of any fashion business. For example, fast fashion consists of selling inexpensive and trendy apparel produced rapidly for mass markets These large clothing brands are consistently taking designs and silhouettes from the runway, creating new collections every few weeks. While luxury brands usually have a new collection every season, that includes the season’s latest trends. With fast fashion being widely popular around the globe, the fashion industry faces many issues around it.
Cheap garments fabrics have synthetic fibers and polyester on their composition, made from petroleum. These synthetic products are toxic to the environment and not biodegradable. Usually, the lifespan of these clothes does not last long. And, after some time and use, people throw out their clothes and they end up in landfills polluting our planet.
Issues that revolve around fast-fashion supply chains also include major labor issues and violations. The fashion industry, often, overwork, underpay and put their employees in horrible work conditions. Among that, other integral parts of the fashion supply chain include slavery, prison labor, and child labor. These types of issues create concern for the well-being and safety of garment workers in developing countries. These issues also question the integrity, and ethics of purchasing from their favorite brands.
Some Consequences Of a Poorly Structured Fashion Supply Chain
Garment workers across the globe play a major part in the fashion supply chain. From crafting luxury handbags to cheap t-shirts, and accessories the environmental and ethical costs to make these items are in high demand. Many brands such as, ASOS, Nike, and Disney have come under fire, being accused of using sweatshops for the creation of their products, which poses ethical dilemmas among the brands, urging for change among their consumers.
A big part of Gen Z loves and craves fast fashion. A popular fast fashion brand, “Shein” sells everything from clothing, accessories, and home decor, all for a low cost. The brand is really popular on the social media app TikTok, with millions of “haul” videos. People are showing off their purchases from the website.
Therefore, we can see that it is a favorite brand among many online out there. Shein is one of the largest fast fashion brands that operates out of China. For you to understand, recently, Shein beat Amazon in App downloads in the United States, according to Tech Times. Shein produces all its clothing from overseas factories to keep prices down at a minimum.
In the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy, 1,134 people died in the horrendous collapse of an eight-story building due to negligence of the building owner, who forced staff to keep working, even after discovering major cracks throughout the building. Ultimately this tragedy is considered the deadliest garment factory disaster in history, according to BBC News.
Fashion retailers are taking a different approach to enhance health and safety in a variety of ways. This incident was brought to light within the supply chain. It has urged fashion retailers to make efforts to improve safety within the work environment and building structure. Factories in Bangladesh have manufactured apparel for high-end brands such as Prada, Versace, Moncler, and Gucci. Big-name brands denied that their clothing production was in Bangladesh’s factory. Some fast fashion brands fail to improve their working conditions in their supply chains. Another fast fashion brand “Boohoo” was accused of failing to improve their working conditions, according to The Guardian.
Nowadays, more designers are committing to reducing their carbon footprint and are becoming more eco-friendly. For instance, luxury brands like Stella McCartney, commits to sustainability and ethics, as they do not use fur and leather. Sustainability is one of the keys to ending the horrible treatment of garment workers, waterways, and ultimately the planet.
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