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Fast fashion is proving hard to kill, despite Gen Z

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In today’s era, socially responsible shopping is in vogue. You may have thought it spelled the death of fast fashion, as a new generation of consumers began to shun its wastefulness – embracing, in its place, second-hand clothes as a more eco-friendly wardrobe. the planet – but according to vintage dealer ThredUp, that’s not quite true.

While Gen Z’s heart is in the right place, fast fashion is still hard to let go of. In ThredUp’s 2022 annual State of Retail report, the company found that only 17% of shoppers say they plan to spend less money on fast fashion over the next five years, although 50% think it’s harmful to the environment and 43% even admit they feel guilty buying from stores like Zara, H&M and Forever 21.

Why the dichotomy? Blame an ailing economy and high inflation rates, for starters. Clothing is among the top five categories where consumers have noticed a price hike recently (alongside groceries and gasoline), and in this context, the price tags known for the fast fashion budget for off-road designs are hard to pass up. According to the report, 72% say they buy fast fashion because it’s “good value,” and a further 20% say they feel pressured to have the latest styles because of social media.

But of course it’s more than that. Second-hand shopping is a treasure hunt, but finding a piece of jewelry that has the right look, the right size, the right quality, and price takes time – meanwhile, 53% of shoppers say they choose fast fashion because it’s, say, faster. There’s also the rush and thrill that comes with scrolling through a million in-stock products, loading up a shopping cart full of dresses, skirts and shirts, and ordering everything to be dropped off at your doorstep from a simple finger touch. Like any addiction, 42% say fast fashion is a bad habit that’s hard to break.

Despite this, vintage is still thriving, both as another way to save money on clothing and as a booming culture in its own right. Savings are trending more than ever among Gen Z and Millennials, according to ThredUp: 59% of those who bought second-hand for the first time in 2021 say they feel it gives them bragging rights , and 72% overall felt proud to tell people their outfits were second-hand. .

A well-founded pride, because the climate impact of the fast fashion industry is far from negligible. According to a 2019 United Nations report, fueling the rolling stock of its mass production emits more greenhouse gases than all international flights and shipping combined. Meanwhile, mountains of discarded clothing have been piled up and burned in landfills, releasing chemical fabric pollution into the atmosphere and our oceans.