MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Why Fast Fashion Has to Slow Down

  • 8m
  • Gareth Gransaull, Tima Bansal
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • 2021

Spanish apparel maker Zara is famed in the fashion world for starting a clothes production revolution. When most retailers were taking nine months to get a clothing item from the drafting table to the store, Zara was figuring out how to slash that time to a mere 15 days. The company made clothes so quickly that in 2005, Madonna fans showed up to a concert in knock-offs of the clothes the performer had worn just a few weeks earlier. Fast fashion was born.

Speed was a big part of the revolution, but so too was low cost and expendability. As quickly as fashionistas acquired new looks — fed in part by Zara’s production of a new collection every week, or 20,000 new designs each year — they were also tossing out the old. Why launder clothes when they’re so cheap to replace? On average, fast fashion customers discarded inexpensive dresses, shirts, and pants after wearing them as few as seven times. A limited shelf life was part of the allure.

About the Author

Tima Bansal (@timabansal) is the Canada Research Chair of Business Sustainability, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a professor at Ivey Business School. She has also held visiting positions at MIT, the University of Cambridge, and Monash University. She founded Innovation North and the Network for Business Sustainability.

Gareth Gransaull (@ggransaull) is associate director of the Canadian Business Youth Council for Sustainable Development and an organizer with the Divest Canada Coalition.

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  • MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Why Fast Fashion Has to Slow Down