Fast fashion has been getting a lot of heat lately. While we disagree wholeheartedly with the fast fashion business model, turning & burning inventory (quite literally), we do understand the appeal to consumers. Not too long ago, we were habitually filling our closets with cheap, trendy polyester too. But we’ve educated ourselves, changed our habits, and started a business that combats part of the issue. At Tulerie we pose the question, why should five people buy the same skirt when those 5 people can share one? Last year, H&M had $4.3 billion of unsold clothes. Considering their average sale price, that equates to 215 million articles of unsold clothing. All of that dead inventory in retail cost the U.S. $50 billion last year. Case in point.
We’re not animals though, we’ll nod to the fact the H&M group is trying to right the vessel with a non-profit arm dedicated to improved recycling along the supply chain but keep in mind the company produced 3 billion garments last year. So while material re-use is important and should be celebrated, the massive amount of clothing produced is the real problem. Not to mention, most companies still choose virgin fabrics over the recycled alternatives available.
But this is a tale as old as time, simple supply and demand, fast fashion retailers will produce at the pace we (the consumer) set. The company expresses they have no plans to slow down volume because they don't see an alternative...“We can stop producing the volumes we do [now], but then the 98 percent [of companies that are] less transparent and less sustainable will just keep making money. We have a role to play going forward — we ought to put others who are not transparent out of business.” We like how Elizabeth L. Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, explains it "it's not enough to just be less bad than your competition.” We couldn’t agree more. That’s like saying you ate chocolate cake for breakfast but it's okay because you didn’t eat dinner.