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The fashion industry has evolved continually through globalization, technological innovations and retail revolution. Today, fashion is valued at $1.4 trillion in the global industry, with China dominating at market value of $284 billion, followed by the United States at $267 billion and India at $50 billion in 2017. Since fast fashion's emergence in the 1960s, it has become one of the biggest key players and drivers of the industry's growth. However, is fast fashion sustainable in the long-run and what are the downsides and upsides of its emergence? In other words, is fast fashion really the future of fashion?

This paper intends to answer those questions and I will do so in three parts. The first part will include an extended introduction of the fashion industry, a brief history of the US fashion industry which led to the emergence of fast fashion, followed by an introduction to its business model backed with financial data. Second part will analyze the impacts of fast fashion on the luxury apparel industry, on the economy and environment, thus providing my response to the question of whether or not fast fashion is the savior (or enemy) of the US, if not, global apparel industry. The last part of the paper will discuss the future of the US fashion industry fueled by technological changes, shifts in consumer preferences, and increasing global cross-border online platforms. I will then end the paper with my own stand on whether or not fast fashion can survive this technological storm and remain a significant part of the industry in the future.

1. Introduction

Fashion designer Miuccia Prada once said, “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language” (Brainy Quote). Fashion matters to society and to each of us personally; what we wear represents who we are and who we want to be. Simply put, fashion is now an essential medium of self-expression. But, the industry is often misunderstood and perceived as vain, superficial, ephemeral and trivial. Most people fail to understand that the impacts of fashion extend far beyond individuals and societies; fashion impacts economies too.

The fashion industry is one of the world's most significant driver of economies, yet the most underrated. Fashion is valued at $1.4 trillion in the global industry, with China dominating at market value of $284 billion, followed by the United States at $267 billion and India at $50 billion in 2017 (Lu). The global apparel industry has been growing at a 4.78% yearly rate since 2011, and is projected to experience 5.91% yearly growth over the next three years (Singh). As of 2016, the industry also accounts for 2% of the world's GDP, representing the world's seventh largest economy (“The State of Fashion 2017”). Safe to say, fashion is certainly nowhere close to being frivolous.

Value of the Global Apparel Market: 2018-2022

(Source: Sheng Lu Fashion)

The industry is multi-faceted and structurally diverse, encompassing of four levels: “the primary level of textile production, including mills and yarn makers; secondary level of designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and vendors; the retail level, which includes all types of stores and distribution points of sale; and marketing, the auxiliary level which connects each of the other levels via the press, advertising, research agencies, consultants, and fashion forecasters” (Wilson). Combining global employment in both higher and lower end of the production spectrum, the fashion industry has created approximately 60 to 75 million jobs in the textiles, clothing and footwear sectors in 2015 (fashionunited.com). So, whether we value fashion or not, we can agree on one thing: we all wear clothing, and that makes us all part of the fashion ecosystem.

1.1 History of Fashion Industry

Before the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, “most textile and garment production existed on a small scale (Monet)”, where every garment was individually handmade. The manufacturing and production process finally picked up speed after the introduction of new textile machines such as the Roller Spinning machine by Lewis Paul and John Wyatt of England, which spun cotton into thread; the Power Loom by Edmund Cartwright, which wove threads into cloth; and sewing machines, all of which contributed to the extreme drop in clothing prices and enormous growth in the production scale (Monet). Hence, by early-nineteenth century, mass production of clothing has begun. The fast rise of garment factories and sewing innovations were largely an American phenomenon, stimulated by the post-war growing middle class and large increase in foreign labor. The industry continued growing at an exponential rate, and by 1915, apparel was the third largest in America, after steel and oil.

1.2 The Emergence of Fast Fashion in The 1960s

However, though apparel were already produced in masses since early 1900s, it was not until the 1960s when we begin to see the emergence of ‘fast fashion'. The increasing shift from fixed status groups to more mobile identities created a more dynamic pattern of consumption. “Greater social mobility, a growing middle class, the rise of urbanization and the growth of shopping malls, together helped create a less exclusive ‘fashion system' (Taplin 253). The idea of creating singular identities through material sense has been enhanced by socio-economic changes. Teenage and young adult women are now more willing to adapt to temporary fashion trends by shopping for relatively inexpensive clothing more often. This change in lifestyle and consumer consumption habits became the key driver of the reinvention of the retail sector as these fashion-forward yet affordable styles now appeal to middle-class consumers with increased disposable incomes. Firms successfully “identified demand-driven changes and now had the logistical capability to satisfy such changes” (Taplin 253), leading to the birth of well-known global retail giants such as Zara, H&M, Primark, Forever 21 and many more.

1.3 Fast Fashion in Today's World

Today, ‘fast fashion' is best defined as the rapid turn-over of inexpensive designs that travel quickly from fashion runways to stores to meet new trends (Investopedia.com). Fast fashion embodies the latest styles and fashion trends, which usually bears a strong aesthetic resemblance to designs of luxury brands. The business model adopted by fast fashion is highly driven by their customers, and is dependent on low pricing and the speed of its production process. Fast fashion brands such as Zara and H&M are able to track consumer preferences quickly, and “expedite the designing, manufacturing and distribution of garments in 2-5 weeks to meet demand” (Taplin 255), yet manage to keep their prices low. Traditional or luxury fashion retailers struggle to retain their market presence due to their inability to incorporate this efficiency into their business models. Thus, paving the path for fast fashion's rapid expansion which can be seen through the growth of both Zara and H&M. Zara began life in 1963 and opened its first retail store in Spain in 1975. By 2010, Inditex (parent company of Zara) was up to 5,000 stores and in fiscal year 2014, Zara netted $19.7 billion in sales (Josephson). While H&M, on the other hand, netted $20.2 billion in 2014, and opened 427 new stores in 2016 alone, employing over 160,000 people in 62 different nations then. Up until 2015, fast fashion was outperforming the entire apparel industry in terms of growth in annual sales (Singh).

Year-over-year Sales Growth of Fast Fashion vs Its Competition

(Source: Euromonitor International)

2. Impacts of Fast Fashion

While it is undeniable that fast fashion has fueled the industry's growth through successful capitalization of consumer demand due to their “enhanced understanding of the demand side of the clothing chain” (Taplin, 248), it is also true that the widespread of the global phenomenon came at a cost because like most other global industries, fast fashion has its winners and losers as well. With fast fashion retailers and consumers on the winning side, exactly who is on the losing? The following part of the paper will answer the question by discussing the impacts of fast fashion from the perspectives of the luxury apparel industry, the economy, and the environment.

2.1.1 Luxury Fashion – Business Model

Luxury fashion refers to fashion that is constructed and designed with a strong degree of uniqueness, craftsmanship, heritage, aesthetics, price, and quality. Due to high levels of precision and craftsmanship employed to manufacture these luxury goods, only about two couture collections are showcased each year during the Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer Fashion Week, in contrast to the all-year long production of fast fashion. With limited supply at premium price points, luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Prada are able to uphold their strong brand history and prestige in the global markets. What further differentiates luxury fashion and fast fashion is the social and psychological perception of consumers towards the ownership of luxury products (Lockrem, 4). When wearing Gucci shoes or carrying a Yves Saint Laurent bag, consumers tend to have a sense of pride and power. By showing off their wealth, their psychological needs are fulfilled, something a pair of $30 H&M sneakers would not be able to do.

However, with the rise of fast fashion fueled by the evolution of a mass class of wealthy people and the growth of the Internet, high-end consumers loyal to luxury brands are no longer afraid to experiment new styles by mixing luxury products with fast fashion. Consumers no longer view fast fashion companies the same way they viewed them years ago; fast fashion companies are cool now. With successful celebrity marketing campaigns and the increasing willingness of A-list celebrities such as Beyoncé to align their brand with the fast fashion platform, the image of how fast fashion is perceived has changed. Today, even prominent women such as Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama are spotted in dresses from Zara and H&M. The embrace of “disposable fashion” by such notable women would have been unheard of just a few decades ago; but now it sets a prime example of how regardless of social and class standing, fashion is for everyone.

2.1.2 Luxury Fashion- After-Effects of Fast Fashion

The new meaning of “fashion” inevitably affected luxury apparel companies in multiple ways. With fast fashion's rapid turnover of the designs of luxurious and exclusive products into affordable accessible pieces, the once on-trend styles are quickly viewed as a thing of the past as the uniqueness diminishes at a much quicker rate. The prominence of fast fashion in this industry has completely altered the natural cycle of new trends and styles for the worse. In response to its new competition, luxury brand designers have attempted to increase the number of collections produced annually, as well as the speed of production to keep up with the shortened life span of their fashion pieces. Although they managed to increase the variety of products, the process no longer allows for creativity to flourish and has even led several luxury brand designers such as Alexander McQueen and Christophe Decamin, the former Creative Director of Balmain to depression.

As a result, sales and revenue of luxury fashion brands have been stagnant due to the loss of talent and exclusivity. This section will compare the financial and stock performances of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (FR:MC), Kering (FR:KR), H&M (SE:HMB) and Inditex (ES:ITX). LVMH and Kering will represent luxury fashion brands as both are international luxury groups with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Fendi, Céline, and Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney in their respective portfolios. As for fast fashion brands, H&M and Inditex are chosen as they are both mass apparel companies with brands such as Monki, Cheap Monday, and Zara, Bershka under their brand umbrella.

Stock performance from 2013 to 2018 and financial data of the companies from 2012 2017 were collected because the early 2010s was when the fast fashion industry was at its peak before settling down in 2016 due to industry competition and threats, which I will discuss in the third part of this paper. According to MarketWatch data, H&M and Inditex outperformed both LVMH and Kering in terms of stock price growth between 2014 to mid-2016. From the graph, H&M experienced revenue growth of almost 6% from 2012 to 2013 and 18% from 2013 to 2014, and Inditex with almost 5% from 2012 to 2013 and 8% from 2013 to 2014. On the other hand, LVMH only experienced a revenue growth of about 4% and 6%, and Kering

with 0.1% and 3% in period 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 respectively.

Percentage Stock Price Growth 2013-2018

FR:MC FR:KR SE:HMB ES:ITX

(Source: MarketWatch)

Annual Revenue Growth

(Source: LVMH 2012-2017 Annual Report, Kering 2012-2017 Annual Report, Inditex 2012-2017 Annual Report, H&M 2012-2017 Annual Report)

In the wake of this fast fashion disruption, luxury brands are left with only two options: join them or sue them. While luxury brands are constantly suing fast fashion for intellectual property theft, it is highly inefficient due to the time-consuming and difficult court process. The former choice, on the other hand, has proven its success of resolving the issue as well as provide a mutually beneficial marketing scheme for both parties. Luxury fashion brands such as Chanel, Versace, Alexander Wang, and Balmain were seen pivoting towards a co-branding collaboration with H&M in order to “reach as many customers as possible and create better brand recognition and secondary meaning for their products” (Lambert, 18). For example, the collaboration with H&M offered Balmain a quick cash injection and most importantly, introduced the sub scale luxury label on a global scale, while H&M got to differentiate itself against other fast fashion competitors. Considering how the redefinition of “fashion” has inspired (or forced) luxury apparel companies to adopt the fast fashion business model and align their brand alongside fast fashion brands, it raises an interesting question: how are luxury brands going to regain their market share if they are simply following in the footsteps of the majority?

Since 2016, luxury brands have made their comebacks into the industry as seen from the stock price performance and revenue growth of LVMH and Kering. The nature of fashion is ever-changing; consumer behavior constantly shifts; hence luxury apparel companies are now doing more than simply incorporating the fast fashion model to compete. For example, when the new streetwear trend began to ascend in the late 2010s, Louis Vuitton (subsidiary of LVMH) and Gucci (subsidiary of Kering) managed to hop onto the trend by collaborating with streetwear brands: Supreme and GucciGhost. This generated a 23% profit increase for LVMH and 44.6% growth in Gucci, which makes up 39% of Kering's revenues. If luxury brands are able to innovate by moving away from the traditional haute couture; and take advantage of the democratization of luxury, the fast fashion disruption might turn out to be a window of opportunity instead. Even analysts' consensus for both stocks are a buy while they also forecasted a future price target for Kering and LVMH stocks at €485.79 (current price: €478) and €288.52 (current price: €290.95) respectively, signalling a positive future outlook.

Analysts Recommendation for Kering Stock

(Source: MarketWatch)

Analysts Recommendation for LVMH Stock

(Source: MarketWatch)

2.2.1 Fast Fashion Backlash- Impacts on Economy and Environment

As stated previously, fast fashion is a phenomenal business model if looked at from a profit maximization standpoint. But, is fast always better? In the pursuit of low-cost production techniques and overseas sourcing of materials, fast fashion is putting social and environmental values in jeopardy. In 1931, the Garment District in New York was home to the highest concentration of apparel manufacturers in the world; the US apparel industry employs over a million workers in the late 1980s. Over the past 25 years, employment in apparel manufacturing decreased 85%, currently employing only 143,000 people as of May 2014 (BLS, 2017), largely caused by the delocalization of production to low wage countries, particularly China and Bangladesh. The inexpensive nature and accessibility of this fast fashion trend have led to overconsumption and overproduction, resulting in increased waste, pollution and labor exploitation. This section of the paper will discuss how globalization and the disposable mindset of the trend affect the economy in terms of labor and wage, and the environment.

2.2.2 Impact on Economy- Labor and Wage Exploitation

In terms of production costs, US is at a significant disadvantage as the hourly compensation in China's apparel industry is less than $1, and only about $2.50 in Mexico (Doeringer, 354). Apparel manufacturing has since shifted overseas to newly-industrialized countries where supplies of low-cost, unskilled labor are available in abundance. After an increased in free trade regime, emerging economies saw growth opportunities in the apparel industry and was able to leverage their previous experiences in the sector. China's apparel exports, initially made up 4% of the world's in 1980, now make up 25% today. The US is the largest importer of garment, where nearly 40% of apparel sold in the US are imported from China (business2community). Bangladesh's $20 billion garment industry employs an estimated 4 million workers in 4500 factories and is second only to China for apparel exports; Vietnam exports about $13 billion of clothes and employs 1.5 million workers; and Cambodia employs about 615,000 workers, with approximately $5 billion worth of exports (Taplin, 251). More often than not, the working conditions of factory workers are almost inhumane. The “race to the bottom” has created this competitive pressure between countries to compete in terms of producing apparel at the lowest cost and the lowest prices, but with highest productivity, which exposed workers, especially women and children to immense vulnerability.

Fast fashion companies typically work with contractors who can provide the lowest input prices (Lambert, 108). Therefore, in order to maximize profit margins, workers are paid the bare minimum despite the excessive working hours and unsafe workforce environment. Many garment producing nations such as Bangladesh pays a minimum wage dramatically lower than the living wage, allowing the employers to possess more power over their workers. According to International Labor Organization (ILO), about 3.2 million child laborers were employed in Bangladesh in years 2002 to 2003. These children are deprived of education, paid significantly less than the minimum wages, and are more affected by the hazards of the industry. Although progress has been made by the UNICEF to eliminate child labor from the garment industry, it still does not suffice. The ILO also reported that women hold more than two-thirds of jobs in global apparel manufacturing; in several countries they earn only $75 to $300 a month. Take the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh for example. The deadliest garment-industry accident in history took the lives of 1,135 workers, many of them women; their minimum wage was merely $68 per month. Are the lives of these 1,135 Bangladeshi workers only worth a $30 H&M blouse?

2.2.3 Impact on Environment- Environment Degradation, Overconsumption and Waste

Besides the troubling wages and labor conditions, the apparel industry is also second to the oil industry as the world's worst polluter. With low prices, it is no surprise that consumers feel incentivized to shop more often, and in turn purchasing more than necessary. The cycle of purchasing, wearing once, tossing, purchasing again, is extremely wasteful and perpetuates the negative environmental impacts of the apparel industry driven by the fast fashion model. It has been estimated that an average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment only half as long (World Resources Institute). More than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the US, and the amount has doubled over the last 20 years. In 2016, over 16 million tons was generated (business2community). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 84% of unwanted clothes in the US in 2012 ended up in either a landfill or an incinerator, which poses a threat to the environment. When natural fibers, such as cotton, linen and silk, or semi-synthetic fibers, are buried in a landfill, they act like food waste and produce greenhouse gas methane as they degrade. In addition to that, most clothing went through the process of bleaching, dyeing, and being soaked in toxic chemicals, resulting in a release of these toxins into the air when incarcerated or a leak into groundwater when sealed improperly in landfills (Newsweek).

Meanwhile, the other 16% of unwanted clothes either ended up sold at a secondhand store, or in Africa; the latter is most likely. The idea of donating our used garments might be well-intentioned but with our fast-rising levels of excess, we may be doing more harm than good. The US is the largest exporter of second hand clothing, exporting over a billion pounds of used clothing annually. Based on the United Nations Comtrade database (see next page for graph), more than $700 million worth of used clothing was exported from the US in 2015; the value of exports has grown by more than $97 million since 2011. In 2014 itself, a handful of East African countries imported more than $300 million worth of secondhand clothing from the United States and other wealthy countries, where these clothing are sold at extremely low prices. Although secondhand apparel has formed a robust market in East Africa, thus creating employment, these imports have devastated local African clothing industries. In relative to rock-bottom priced used clothing, new locally-made clothes now appear too expensive. The act of dumping made it almost impossible for local African apparel industries to compete.

2.3 Fast Fashion- Savior or Enemy of the Apparel Industry?

Despite the growing media attention to these unethical and unsustainable practices of the fast fashion model, firms will continue to profit from the work of vulnerable populations at any cost. In regards to unethical labor issues, certain fast fashion firms including H&M, Zara, and Primark have expressed their willingness to pay more to suppliers in order to give workers a living wage (Lambert, 120). However, according to the efficiency wage theory, this action could have been taken in hopes that the increased productivity among workers due to higher wages will help balance out the increased cost of labor. (Lambert, 120). As for sustainable

Value of Used Clothing Exports in U.S.

(Source: DESA/UNSD, United Nations Comtrade database)

issues, H&M has taken initiatives to support research working on textile recycling technologies. Zara, as well, has pledged to increase their clothing recycling by 2020, and is collecting and recycling used clothing at many of their stores.

Nonetheless, apparel spending is projected to grow tremendously alongside the emerging middle class. At this current rate of consumption, we will need three times as many natural resources by 2050 compared to what we used in 2000 (World Resources Institute). Despite efforts on such massive scale by fast fashion firms, they will not solve the global problem of disposable fashion. Companies must do more than paying laborers in developing nations slightly-higher wages and improving efficiency to sustainably meet demand in the future; companies must produce less stuff. This means rethinking or giving up their fast fashion business models. But again, consumers are the ones who largely drive the business model. It is a choice consumers have to make; are we willing to give up our insatiable appetite for “fashionable” goods in exchange for a more humane and sustainable production process?

However, it would be unfair for us to dismiss the upsides of its emergence. Fast fashion has completely changed the game of fashion. It shrunk the gap between luxury products and fast fashion ones by fostering a more flexible and free environment, where all consumers stand equal chance in expressing themselves via clothing. It forces fashion brands to put consumers first by escalating innovation and maintaining their supply chain agility. So, to say that fast fashion is purely destructive is false. It is not uncommon for such a global industry to have its dark sides, but whether or not fast fashion is the savior or enemy of the apparel industry entirely depends on whose perspective you decide to look from. From the viewpoint of a consumer, the good definitely outweighs the bad. But from that of a laborer in an emerging nation, it would be a completely opposite answer.

3. The Future of Fashion

The previous section of the paper has given context in answering the research question, so what does it mean for fast fashion now? There is no doubt that the rise in awareness towards sustainability issues and controversial labor concerns facing the industry might shape the global demand of the trend. Nevertheless, it is essential that we take into account the future industry changes that are bound to drive the industry in completely different directions or even change the meaning of “fast fashion” completely. Along the lines of technological change, shifting consumer preferences in the near future, and the takeover of global cross-border online platforms, will fast fashion remain the future of fashion or will it merely be a passing phase in consumer culture? This section of the paper will discuss both the forthcoming competition and barriers to entry to this industry, thus giving my response to whether or not fast fashion will survive this storm and remain a significant part of the industry in the future.

3.1 Consumer Shifts- Individuality and Personalization

As consumer values coalesce around individuality in the upcoming year, personalization and curation will be increasingly integrated in consumers' expectations when shopping. In the pursuit of social media “likes” and building their own personal brands, younger generations now seek and appreciate items that are tailored to their individual needs rather than follow the homogenous style paradoxically driven by fast fashion. The demand for individualized and curated fashion is evident, but fashion firms are not yet providing it at scale as most struggle to turn customer data into intelligent and actionable insights. Even among fast fashion brands, the utilization of consumer data has become the holy grail. By using data and analytics to track demand on a real-time, localized basis and push new inventory in response to customer pull, Zara is able to distinguish itself as fast fashion's market leader, see figure below for 2004-2015 performance comparison of Zara and other fast fashion retailers, H&M and GAP (Bloomberg).

Change in Annual Revenue of Zara, H&M and Gap Since 2004

(Source: Bloomberg)

The best example of a brand that has been able to capitalize on the recent consumer behavior is Adidas. The sportswear giant was among the first players to offer personalized products to the masses, allowing customers to personalize shoes, choosing between various graphic prints, and add a personalized message (Euromonitor). As for fast fashion, however, due to its fast business model, the increasing consumer shift towards personalization might hinder the influence of fast fashion within the industry. But, that is not the end for fast fashion.

Although it is crucial that fast fashion retailers leverage customer trend data and analytics to identify the ideal personalized solution to better satisfy their consumers, they still need to be reminded that no one is a better, authentic trendsetter than the customers themselves. More and more consumers are trusting influencers to curate information for them, as illustrated by the fact that 9 out of 10 consumers trust an influencer over traditional advertisements or even celebrity endorsements (McKinsey, 2018). For example, UK fast fashion retailer, Boohoo reported that its profits doubled after paying celebrities to promote its products on Instagram (Adweek). There is indeed still hope for fast fashion to stay influential and relevant if they understand the depth of influencer marketing, peer reviews and social media engagement.

3.2 Technological Change- Global Cross-Border Online Platforms and FinTech

As online platforms further solidify their position in the fashion industry, their predominance is now among the top three trends of the industry. Consumers now look to online platforms as the first point of search due to the wide variety of products offered and excellent customer convenience and relevance, from insight-driven marketing to seamless logistics and customer care (McKinsey, 2018). It was reported that 55% of US consumers begin their product search on Amazon, further justifying their expansion and increasing importance. The rise of online platforms is not limited to only the US, but also the global fashion industry, with Asian online apparel market projected to be worth $1.4 trillion by 2020. Fashion firms are no longer competing with one another; they are competing with a whole new channel: technology.

It is no longer an “if” for fashion brands but “how” to collaborate with these digital platforms. If fashion brands decide not to collaborate with these channels, they can expect a slow in their sales in the years to come. For example, despite Zara's status as the world's largest

fast-fashion retailer, its sales slowed last year as reflected in the drop of Inditex stock price from 36.09 euros in May 2017 to 26.62 euros as of today. Zara's underperformance is due to market saturation while online-only competitors like ASOS and Missguided enjoyed enormous sales and growth of 26% in 2016 and 75% in 2017 respectively, thanks to their optimizing online platforms. Even H&M experienced a bearish year as they struggle to adapt its business model to a world where physical shops are becoming less important and big online presence is key. The spread between H&M share price and average analyst price target is now a negative 19% (Bloomberg). However, if fashion brands decide to engage with these online channels, they would have to become reliant on them to drive their business, and hand over their collection and control of customer data, allowing the channels to use this data to build their own-label collections. Either way, online platforms pose a threat to fashion brands.

Besides a growing global cross-border online platform, consumers are also expecting fashion companies to cater for an increasingly convenient mobile transaction. With apps such as Apple Pay being accepted by more and more fashion retailers, mobile adoption is expected to experience a huge boom. Considering there are about 700 fintech solutions already available globally, and potential emergence of more startups, fashion companies that adopt the most strategic solutions and innovations will ride the technological wave while those that do not will soon be wiped out.

3.3 Fast Fashion- Still Relevant?

It is difficult to say that fast fashion will lose its relevance completely due to an increasing consumer shift towards individuality and a digital realm. The fast business model is revolutionary and has pushed many traditional fashion firms out their comfort zones to stay relevant. Fast fashion might be unethical and largely unsustainable but more importantly, it has altered the way we think, providing us with choices we never knew we had. Fast fashion retailers will have to innovate, further incorporating data analytics into understanding what

Zara One-Year Stock Price Performance

(Source: Google Finance)

Spread Between H&M Share Price and Average Analyst Price Target

Analysts' Stock Price Forecast for H&M vs Actual Stock Price of H&M

their consumers want; and work on a better and more sustainable production process. With the global movement towards a digital space, every fashion retailer, be it fast fashion or luxury fashion, will be expected to adapt and innovate to keep pace. Hence, the chances of fast fashion losing its share within the industry are highly unlikely. Although there are essentially lower barriers to entry into the fashion industry in relative to other industries, there are definitely huge barriers to growth due to an intense amount of competition, and the ever-changing and ever-insatiable consumer wants. The fashion industry will continue developing and revolutionizing to fulfil and keep up with the global demand, but one thing for sure- fast fashion is merely one facet of the broad industry. Even if it was to be a passing phase in consumer culture, parts of it will always be integrated in and looked at as a source of inspiration by other new business models; safe to say, fast fashion is here to stay.

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