This blog is inspired by an article on 'Forbes' (link below) by Andrew Busby whose a retail pundit like myself but an awful lot better at writing. 

It was this statement that really grabbed my attention and got me thinking;

"Sweden has set its sights not just on retail and consumerism but one specific sector – fast fashion. And with it, a new term has emerged, one which most likely will be on all our lips before the year is out; köpskam".

It’s a term used to describe the shaming of buying something new, especially apparel. And you can see why. According to the United Nations, the fashion industry produces more carbon emissions than all international flights and sea shipments put together.

Now I have to admit that this is not a headline I thought I would be reading in relation to the low cost, fast fashion sector so soon.

We've all seen the recent global reaction and demonstrations to 'climate change', and whilst this blog isn't about riding on the back of what's clearly an extremely vital movement this is my opinion piece which I hope helps to highlight that the way we're running the world doesn't have the level of sustainability we have come to know.

I remember in my school days being pressured to wear the right brand of shoes, shirts, trainers etc. We then get into the workplace and unless you're in a job that requires a uniform the pressure is also there.  

Up-cycling and recycling is in its own way becoming a movement, I was once involved in a company that bought - refurbished - and sold your old media, and today your old tech, believe me it's a lucrative sector if you can get it right, but for planet earth is it still just kicking the can further down the road?.

My view is that fast fashion has never been a long term sustainable business, in order to maintain growth required by investors means a constant tug of war between shareholder value, and the 'I want it now' fickle socially savvy consumer,and much less about environmental issues.

I say socially savvy because it's a combination of the numerous social networks  the fast fashion companies are on that's helping to fuel the demand without any real perspective (or responsibility) of the hidden environmental cost, and/or solutions that are seen to be informing today's consumer.

"If you’re an online fashion and footwear retailer, you’re probably all too aware of the corrosive effect returns have on your bottom line". 

Across the retail sector, return rates to bricks-and-mortar stores are running at around 8%. Compare that with a hefty 40% returns rate for online purchases.

It's no secret that to build an online fashion business it's vital that you factor in those high 'return rates' into your financial models. 

Post festive season is one of the most costly and turbulent times in fashion, mainly because of the shopping frenzy that takes place ahead of Christmas, along with the office and party season. 

Items get worn, and sent back. Presents get bought and then either exchanged, or a refund requested, so the logistics tends to impact virtually every part of the business, along with the additional environmental impact.

In late 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had begun freezing the accounts of shoppers ‘who made too many returns’. Meanwhile in April 2019, ASOS announced its own crackdown on ‘serial returners’, deactivating transgressors’ accounts, while research by Brightpearl of 200 retail executives found that two-thirds of respondents were willing to follow Amazon and ASOS’s example.

Simply factoring in higher than average return rates is one thing, but factoring those returns during a time of year when retailers are looking to keep resource cost down is where we often see most of the pain being felt. 

Social platforms are a great low cost way to help inform and educate consumers around sizing and other valuable information that can create a win/win situation and help to take the strain and stress out of the process for all.