Reimagining the Future of eCommerce and Fast Fashion
“We spend our entire lives in clothes, from the day we are born to the day we die,” says Anna Vladymyrska, the CEO of ShopParty. Today, the fashion industry is an integral part of the global economy, and clothing is attached to almost everything.
The value of the worldwide fashion industry is estimated to be around $3 trillion, which accounts for 2% of the world’s GDP. Moreover, the global apparel market revenue was estimated to be $1.5 trillion in 2021 and is expected to increase to $2 trillion by 2026. The fashion sector employs more than 75 million people worldwide and has experienced spectacular growth in recent decades, as apparel production nearly doubled between 2014 and 2021. According to McKinsey, while consumers currently buy 60% more clothes than they did in 2014, they keep them for only half the time. As such, fashion apparel’s lifetime value diminishes further year after year.
Unfortunately, as the fashion sector booms, more and more attention is being drawn to the impressive range of adverse environmental impacts for which the industry is responsible. Today, the fashion industry is losing around $500 billion in fashion waste and $120 in fashion returns; fashion production accounts for 10% of carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. In addition, 85% of all textiles end up in landfills each year, and significant amounts of microplastics enter the ocean when specific garments are washed. Overall, the fashion industry is considered the 2nd most polluting industry globally.
Fast fashion also comes at a human cost: textile workers, especially women in developing countries, are paid paltry wages and work long hours in appalling conditions. The use of chemicals in garment production also raises serious health concerns, both for industry workers and consumers. Other health impacts also result from environmental pollution.
The environmental and social costs of the fashion industry has forced the world to rethink fast fashion and underscores the need for more sustainable business models and practices.
These drastic environmental and social consequences of the fashion industry are precisely why the fashion industry should be reinvented and reimagined. Currently, the fashion industry lacks a marketplace technology for meaningful brands to meet conscious consumers. Platforms that would exclusively work with sustainable brands with ethical values, ones who advance the SDG goals through their business models. Platforms that would utilize data, analytics, and consumer feedback to help inform brands’ production and manufacturing decisions to prevent oversupply and ensure on-demand production. Platforms that would stimulate change and would result in positive externalities such as less hunger, less pollution, more education, and social equality.
ShopParty’s Anna Vladymyrska believes that today’s entire fashion business model should be built around the multiplier effect concept. It should focus on women’s businesses precisely because women tend to have a powerful multiplier effect in their communities. Women are known to reinvest a higher proportion of their budget in families’ well-being, such as education, vaccinations, sanitation, nutrition, and overall healthcare, resulting in better outcomes for their families and consequently for their communities, as well as ultimately fostering the well-being of their regions and their countries – resulting in the powerful multiplier effect.
Such business models are thoroughly supported by academic research. Economics of Gender research proves that for every dollar invested in women, society gets a 5 to 10-fold return, dramatically enhancing economic productivity. The knowledge and understanding of various social, economic, and cultural aspects should drive the fashion industry today, resulting in positive externalities and maximal multiplier effects.
Today’s fashion industry is in drastic need of new and emerging concepts that aim to change the fashion industry drastically and inspire other sectors to onboard unique, sustainable visions and inspire other sectors to act and make a change. The fashion industry, like no other, has the means to inspire the entire business world to start fighting and advocating for sustainability, reducing hunger, reducing pollution, and promoting education and social equality worldwide.