02 December 2021

How promotions could help bring an end to ‘fast fashion’

Environmental and sustainability concerns are central to the future of many brands and businesses in the fashion and retail industries. It’s shining a light on some trends and practices that are beginning to look outdated when viewed through this lens.

One of those trends, known in the clothing industry as ‘fast fashion’, has grown in prominence in the 21st century with the rise of increasingly well-known retail chains that ‘pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’.

Western consumers buy 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago, in large part due to this increase in their affordability. This has been a huge boost to the industry’s turnover and profit margins – but at what expense to the environment?

What is fast fashion?

You’ll know the brand names, as they’re now central tenets to malls and high street precincts up and down the UK, and they’re increasingly popular with shoppers who are looking for a bargain buy.

Fast fashion retailers prioritise mass-produced methods, often using synthetic materials that are also inexpensive to work with, to deliver low-quality clothing cheaply and quickly.

The knock-on effect is that consumers will wear out their clothes more quickly and they’re less likely to be discerning about their purchases. This in turn causes more waste as people buy clothes they only wear once or twice – or sometimes not at all – before indulging in their next fast fashion shopping trip.

Why is fast fashion a problem?

In a word – overproduction. New clothing is primarily manufactured for developed world markets, where increasingly retailers are being flooded by cheap products that’s generating a throwaway culture around clothes.

The inevitable result is that, despite campaigns pushing for the recycling of old garments, more and more textiles from the fashion industry are ending up in landfill.

Even donating unwanted clothes is now causing largely unforeseen issues. Many African nations receive millions of items of donated clothes every day – the idea being that traders can re-sell them for a small profit. However, due to the low quality of the materials used and the craftsmanship employed, these traders are unable to sell them – for example, of the 15million used clothes that arrive in Ghana every week approximately 40 per cent of them end up in landfill.

The solution to this growing problem is not going to come from isolated areas of the fashion and retail sectors – it needs buy-in from across the industries to get to grips with it.

What’s happening now to make fashion change for the better?

There are already some incremental changes going on that will help to make the clothing and fashion industry more sustainable.

Some disruptive brands on the UK market are offering on-trend clothing that places sustainability at the centre of their business model – and their marketing material. Many high street retailers are getting involved too, with initiatives like exchanging unwanted fabric donations in-store for money-off vouchers against future purchases.

However, to make a real and widespread difference, there needs to be a far wider drive towards responsible buying and the disposal of fabrics from a greater stable of fashion brands and retailers. Encouraging the purchasing public to make different decisions – such as buying high-quality, lower wastage items – is key.

Trade-in promotions that, by definition, offer better value to the consumer for these items seems a very positive place to start.

How could trade-in promotions help?

At Insyt, we’re experts in sales promotions that are designed to boost businesses in all sorts of ways – from giving a bump to sales figures to improving public perceptions of your brand.

One of the most popular mechanics we use is the trade-in promotion, which is often used in the technology sectors – normally, consumers receive discounts on a newly released product, such as a phone handset or laptop, by returning their older version.

Trade-in promotions drive sustainability by encouraging people to recycle their unwanted, unused products through retailers, who can do so en masse and therefore comparatively cheaply.

For now at least, it’s a promotions mechanic that’s still very rarely seen in the fashion industry and yet it would be perfectly suited to solving some of the problems around sustainability that exist.

As much as $500billion is lost by fashion retailers every year through waste alone so something game-changing like the widespread use of trade-in promotions may just help to turn the dial.

At Insyt, we offer a wide range of bespoke promotions solutions that can help boost your sales, brand sentiment or customer loyalty. It’s all underpinned by our risk-managed approach, which enables us to develop bold and adventurous solutions for you. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help your business: hello@insyt.com