God I sure do hope so.
We've all been there. If you've been a struggling student in the UK, there's nothing quite like a little wander through the aisles of Primark. Some of my favourite tops have come from there or a last-minute purchase for a night out. But, if I'm being really honest with myself (and I know others have been too), the days of fast fashion is kind of... over.
I like to think it was already in decline before the pandemic, but that's probably not accurate: sales figures were telling a different kind of story. But as the pandemic rages in on in Europe and other parts of the world, Primark stores have taken a hit (I think I read somewhere it was a £2bn hit in the space of a couple of weeks). Mike Essex explains it succinctly, why an online model wouldn't work for Primark here.
In short, he explains that fast fashion requires way too much website maintenance. There are no "hero products" as Essex explains, and the warehouse costs alone would be outrageous. In short, the Primark model is not agile, it would be a nightmare to move online.
But isn't that exactly why we need to change things? Isn't that exactly why we need to rethink the way we do business in fashion, the way we buy into this crazy business model?
At the start of the pandemic, I bought a box from Lost Stock, an NGO that bought the unsold clothes ordered by Primarnie, H&M and other fashion power houses and rendered useless due to the fact that the shops were shut. Where was the fair trading practices here? Where were the billion-pound rescue packages then? Were the Bangladeshis going to sell tight bodycon dresses to themselves? No. How were they going to eat? Apparently not on fast fashion's dime.
And let's not even talk about the environmental pollution, the ridiculous excess of clothes in our closets and the charity shops brimming with skimpy outfits when we all went on a Marie Kondo cleanse (coupled with the pandemic, that is also becoming a crisis issue).
So let's rethink fast fashion, let's take all this time we've had to reflect, reuse, recycle and rethink to really make a difference in the world. Now, I want to make a clear distinction: I do not blame Primark for this. I do not blame H&M, Zara, and the lot. They were going where the market was taking them. They were responding to consumer behaviour. Were they absolutely callous? Hell yes. But that's for another conversation.
This brings me to a big question: isn't it time to change consumer behaviour? Isn't it time we really thought about putting our money where our mouth is? I know that for a lot of people, the pandemic taught them to buy local. Locally sourced, locally made... and this is a trend that I doubt is going to fade. The pandemic taught us how we were squandering our money: on eating out too much, on nights out raking up hundreds of ££ culminating in a hangover from hell, heck, even our petrol budgets dropped immensely. So let's use that extra money wisely. Let our consumer behaviour say: we don't support fast fashion. We don't support 52 different skirts a year. We don't need allll this cheap plastic crap made halfway around the world.
So, dear people of the Internet, have you decided what is going to be your next fashion purpose? Is it going to be M&S or H&M, or maybe something a little closer to home?