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The cheap and trendy clothing from brands like Zara, H&M, and Forever21 that has flooded the American market in the past decade might be on the decline. Bloomberg Businessweek ran an article last week citing "fast fashion fatigue," and quoting two industry experts who claim the era of disposable fashion is coming to an end.
"There's a whole vast sector of the public that really has been burned out by fast fashion and the novelty and is just very exhausted," said one trend forecaster.
A retail consultant they spoke with agreed, saying, "American culture has been 'Give me more for less,' and I do think that's shifting... Quality is beginning to trump quantity."
Though Business Week couldn't cite a single fast fashion company whose sales have actually been hurt by the "backlash," they did talk to some of the industry's heavyweights about strategy.
Gap Inc.'s beleaguered Gap brand has invested in upgrades of its merchandise with specific fabrics, and an elevated feel and design for spring 2013, "and customers have noticed," a spokesperson told Businessweek.
H&M's rep said basically nothing aside from some PR babble about meeting customers' expectations. Here's the official quote: "At H&M, quality means making sure our products meet or exceed our customers' expectations. Attention to quality and safety begins at the design stage and continues throughout the entire manufacturing process." But Businessweek cites the expansion of H&M's pricier basics brand COS as evidence that the company feels it needs to off-set trendy, disposable pieces from H&M.
And Uniqlo, as we know, is all about tech, not trend. "We create perfect basics—that's the core of our business," CEO Shin Odake told Businessweek. "We believe that a lot of it is dictated from the fabric, the quality, and that's why we feel that it's very important to strategically partner with a few fabric manufacturers that we believe are the world's best."
What do you think? Do you have "fast-fashion fatigue," or do you think brands like Zara and H&M are hitting an important niche of affordable, fashion-forward pieces? Would you be willing to pay more and but less? Speak your mind in the comments.
· Gap Gains With Zara Responding to Fast-Fashion Fatigue [BusinessWeek]
· Why Zara Probably Won't Expand in the US Any Time Soon: The Midwest and Sizing [Racked]
· Fast-Fashion Face off: Here's How Uniqlo Compares to Zara, Gap, and H&M [Racked]