No matter how much loved or hated, fast fashion has completely changed the way consumers spend the world. But have you ever wondered when fast fashion started officially?
For many people, fast fashion is still a relatively new concept, coming from fashion models like Zara, when possessing the ability to sell trends at a record speed in affordable prices. But in fact, fast fashion is the term coined for a production system that has continuously evolved since the 1800s.
The history of Fast Fashion: 1800s
Before the 1800s, most people relied on wool for their wool and weaving. This fashion cycle was reformed during the Industrial Revolution, when textile machines, factories and ready-made garments began to appear in large numbers and in various sizes instead of following goods orders as before. First granted a patent in 1846, the sewing machine contributed to a rapid decrease in cost and increase in the size of apparel production.
Outside of high-end fashion boutiques, local apparel businesses are still responsible for creating costumes for middle-class women. While low-income women continue to make their own clothes to wear. Local apparel businesses often include a staff in the office. Although in some stages of production, there can be labor exploitation. And in parallel with that, there is also a class of people working from home with limited income.
Although these types of activities mainly exist locally; in fact, the exploitation of labor in the 1800s still foretold something about the status of fast fashion production in the modern era.
Fast fashion history: From the 1900s to the 1950s
Despite the growing number of clothing factories and new inventions in apparel, a great deal of clothing was still made at home or small workshops during the early 20th century. Functional requirements of clothing since World War II have led to an increase in the standardization of clothing production. After getting used to such standardization, middle-class consumers gradually became more accepting of mass-produced clothing after the war.
However, it is important to remember that not all innovations are good. On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist sewing factory in New York, claiming the lives of 146 garment workers. Many of them are young female immigrants. This also suggests recent examples such as the 2012 fire at Tazreen fashion factory in Bangladesh, which killed at least 117 people.
Fast fashion history: From the 1960s to 2000
If you have ever wondered when fast fashion started moving at breakneck speeds, the answer is in the 1960s. At that time, young people began to prefer cheap clothes to keep up with the trend. They reject garment traditions from previous generations. Not long after, fashion brands had to find a way to meet the growing demand for cheap clothing, which led to the opening of a series of large textile factories in developing countries so that the United States and European companies can save millions by hiring cheap labor.
But which name is the first true fast fashion retailer? This answer is still unclear because many brands that we know today are tycoons in this field, including Zara, H&M and TopShop all started from small shops in Europe around the middle of the century. XX. They all focused on cheap trendy clothes, eventually expanding throughout Europe, and entering the US market in the 1990s or 2000s.
But considering the time of appearance, perhaps H&M is the first name to be mentioned. Born in 1947 in Sweden under the name Hennes, the brand moved to London in 1976 and officially achieved the “American dream” in 2000. According to the New York Times, the founder of Erling Persson found inspiration for H&M after visiting large-scale retail establishments in the US after World War II.
Zara founder Amancio Ortega, who opened his first store in Northern Spain in 1975, is said to use the same principle as today: turning speed into a growth engine. When Zara arrived in New York in early 1990, the New York Times used the term fast fashion to describe the store, claiming that it only took 15 days for an outfit to go from the mind of a designer to the placement on shelves.
Because of their humble background and enormous growth power, it is hard to decide which has affected which one. The rapid growth that shaped these brands has been accompanied by methods of reducing production costs while creating much controversy surrounding the exploitation of cheap labor abroad.
Although it is difficult to identify the origin of fashion as quickly as we know it today. But it is easy to understand how this phenomenon occurs. In the late 90s and early 2000s, it was more and more acceptable to show love for cheap fashion. And the ability to combine high-fashion and popular fashion has gradually become an expression of style. When H&M opened its doors in the United States for the first time in April 2000, the New York Times judged that the brand had come at the right time because consumers have recently tended to hunt for bargains and affordable items. This has become an idea of true sophistication.
Fast fashion brands are also taking it to the next level, as ladies like Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama are constantly appearing with dresses from retailers like Zara and H&M. The tribute to fashion from such women was something quite strange in previous decades. But the “democratization of fashion” has now created the concept of mass production, allowing many people to communicate through clothing regardless of economic and social origin.
Fast fashion history: Today
Reflecting on the long journey from weaving and sewing to ourselves to global manufacturing capabilities, it seems that we live in a great era when we can afford to buy things by our cell phones, just seconds after it appeared on the catwalk.
Of course, we also have to admit that many major problems are arising from the current fashion system, such as unfair labor practices and huge waste. In an industry once focused on getting faster; it is time to consider slowing down or at least need to consider more in every shopping.
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