(ETX Daily Up) – Chosen for its harmful effect on the environment, fast fashion is trying to reduce its impact with many (more) responsible initiatives. Real commitment or greenwashing? Everyone has their own opinion about it, but one thing seems certain, Gen Z is not about to part with this fashion we call disposable, as witnessed by one of the latest hashtags in vogue on TikTok: #BamaRush.
These are tough times for fast fashion, whose supply chain opacity and environmental impact are far from unanimous across the globe. Something that does not seem to be changing despite the implementation of initiatives aimed at reversing the trend, or at least reducing the harmful effects of such production processes. More responsible materials, recycling or even local production seem to have nothing to do with it. On the contrary, disposable or ephemeral fashion, it depends, always draws the ire of some of the consumers, and even more so from activists.
The latter is none other than Greta Thunberg who says in Vogue Scandinavia: “Many give the impression that the fashion industry is starting to take responsibility and spend fantastic amounts on campaigns presenting itself as “sustainable”, “ethical”, “green” , “climate neutral” and “equitable”. But let’s be clear: it’s almost never about anything other than greenwashing”. The tone is set. And if we look at the numbers and studies on ethical fashion, second-hand or even sustainable fashion, showing that consumers are increasingly concerned about the industry’s impact on the environment since the start of the pandemic, it’s easy to infer that fast fashion is experiencing its last moments. This is without counting on a generation, Gen Z, which is much more complex than it seems.
Designers + fast fashion, the new mix and match?
“This generation is so illegible and complex that brands are both fascinated and in demand for information to understand it,” said Eric Briones, co-founder of the Paris School of Luxury and author of the book “Le choc Z” last March. “They demand brands to be ecologically impeccable, but when it comes to their fashion habits… fast fashion is still there”. This is confirmed by the latest figures from Kolsquare, which tell us that the giants of fast fashion largely dominate the debates on social networks.
And it’s not the success of the #BamaRush hashtag that will prove otherwise. Indeed, the University of Alabama sorority recruiting week has seen unprecedented success on TikTok this year, with the hashtags #BamaRush (380 million views) and #AlabamaRush (75 million views), featuring short videos of students explaining why they want to become a member of a particular women’s sorority. And in the middle of these speeches, we discover all the outfits of the day – yes, they are many – exhibited by the contenders for these sororities, who do not hesitate to list the brands that accompany each piece of clothing or accessory. Information we find this time under the hashtag #BamaRushootd or #Rushootd (for Outfit of the Day) – yes, you have to follow a little.
And, oh surprise, fast fashion is over-represented there with brands like Shein, ultra popular among the mass posted videos, as well as The Pants Store, Amazon, or even Princess Polly and Pretty Little Thing. But beware, this is no ode to throwaway fashion either, as the students have played the mix and match card by combining fast fashion and designer brands, including LoveShackFancy, Michael Kors or Kendra Scott, who, incidentally, benefited from a golden communication.
While many might argue that these thousands of videos alone cannot determine the future of fashion, they do show a generation juggling brands from such diverse and varied backgrounds – for ethical fashion we may have to wait for the next “rush” – proving that it is not about to give up whatever its obligations are for a more accessible and smart way, and again, that it is difficult to read and anticipate.