over 4 years ago • 2 mins
In 2002, the Chinese would wear a fetch new item of clothing an average of over 200 times before throwing it away – but by 2016, they were like, so over it after just 62 outings 🤑
As China’s become richer, it's inherited the Western habit of “fast fashion”: the quick release of new items at cheap prices, brought into style primarily by companies like Zara-owner Inditex andH&M. The model encourages people to buy cheap clothes regularly, meaning massive profits for the stores themselves, but more trash bags full of clothing every few months.
Some clothing is particularly affected by this trend (nightwear's worn for half as long as in 2002 😴) But reasons for the clothing purge vary: 52% of the time in the UK, it was because something was damaged or worn out, or because the owner no longer thought it was fetch. And fast fashion has also led to a huge increase in demand for clothing...
Fashion has a plus-sized environmental impact: textiles production in 2015 produced more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Textiles production uses 93 trillion litres of water each year, and accounts for 20% of industrial water pollution. That’s a lot of waste for products that are ultimately discarded into landfill. Less than 1% of clothing fiber is recycled into new clothing, after all.
That waste could start to trim producers’ profits. If the production process stays the same, it’s estimated that increases in cotton, water, and energy prices could cut $50 billion from industry profits by 2030. A more sustainable system, meanwhile, could increase profit margins by 2 percentage points.
So that’s what many fast fashion outlets – like Inditex, which is funding recycling research at MIT – are focused on. Another approach is to reduce purchases altogether: that’s what clothing rental startup Rent The Runway has in mind – and it was recently valued at a fetch $1 billion.
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