Is fast fashion slowing down?

Abby Turner, Writer

Through climate strikes and practicing environmentally friendly habits, society is beginning to make a shift towards eco-friendly changes. Although some environmental practices may be more expensive for consumers, they are willing to pay a price to help save the Earth. The shift to eco-friendly habits is killing the fast fashion industry, such as the popular store Forever 21.

Fast fashion became increasingly popular with young adults during the mid-1990s and through the Great Recession. Stores like H&M and Forever 21 provide cheap styles that constantly keep up with the current trends. While this idea is appealing, the process of fast fashion is extremely unethical. In order to keep prices down, fast fashion companies contract out factories in developing countries. In these countries, labor laws are not as fully developed as in the United States. The companies are able to get away with low wages and poor working conditions that they wouldn’t get away with in the United States. Also, companies do not own the factories in which they produce their products. Instead, they contract them out because it is harder for them to be held accountable for wrong-doings in the factories. 

Forever 21 is one of the most well known unethical fast fashion companies. After the deadly collapse of the garment factory Rana Plaza that housed the company Zara, the Bangladesh Accords on Fire and Building Safety were proposed. The accords would hold companies more accountable for the conditions in their factories. Forever 21 is one of the only fast fashion brands that still has not signed the accords. In addition, Forever 21 has not taken steps to pay their factory workers at a living wage. In the United States, it was discovered Forever 21 workers were paid three dollars below the California minimum wage. 

Another contributor to the downfall of Forever 21 is their inability to adapt to the modern consumer’s wants. Today, every 8 in 10 shoppers in America shops online. While online shopping is on the rise, Forever 21 continues to build stores across the world. Consumers today are also considering the environmental impacts of the clothes they buy. Some shoppers today are willing to pay more for clothes that are being produced in ethical ways. The shift in consumer behavior is what will kill the fast fashion industry.

While Forever 21 has filed for bankruptcy, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going out of business. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Usually in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company is seeking help with reorganizing their debt. There is a possibility that Forever 21 will bounce back from bankruptcy with help from the bankruptcy court. The court will handle all major decisions the company makes at the benefit of their creditors. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is more expensive and timely then Chapter 7 and 13, and has a 10% chance of the company bouncing back.

Forever 21 announced this past week the effects of filing for bankruptcy. The company will close its stores in over 40 countries and a handful of stores in the United States. The remainder of the stores in the United States are expected to run as normal for the time being.

“We are confident this is the right path for the long-term health of our business. Once we complete a reorganization, Forever 21 will be a stronger, more viable company that is better positioned to prosper for years to come. We look forward to continuing to provide you with the great service and curated assortment of merchandise that you expect from us,” said Forever 21’s press release relating to their bankruptcy announcement.