Press commentary on fast fashion’s attempt to address its lack of environmental sustainability. Read the full article here.

On the unsustainability of the fast fashion model:

But while fast-fashion companies are taking these steps to improve, the question remains whether they can truly be sustainable if their business models are built on high-production volume and low costs.

Loose Threads founder and lead analyst Richie Siegel said a big question for consumers and analysts should be whether these companies can actually deliver on their promises. “There is probably a way — with a lot of work, recycling, repurposing, up-cycling — where you could make improvements in this existing fast-fashion model, but generally speaking, that model is an unsustainable model,” he said.

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“I would fully encourage experimentation. Doing something is better than doing nothing, but one has to be realistic of what the real impact is with something like that,” Siegel said.

On what fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara would need to do to accomplish the environmental sustainability they’re after:

To be truly successfully sustainable, Siegel said brands like H&M and Forever 21 would need to accomplish a number of things: One would be to use less harmful practices to make product, which many are starting to do. Another would be to recycle more and, finally, encourage consumers to buy fewer new items and instead opt for used items.

The H&M group’s & Other Stories brand has an in-store recycling program (H&M has one as well) where shoppers can bring in empty beauty packaging and pre-worn garments and textiles. The brand also got into the secondhand market earlier this month, launching a trial program with online marketplace Sellpy to sell some & Other Stories second-hand merchandise. The group plans to extend this idea to all of its brands, including H&M, in the future.

“A true sustainable company would work on all of those dimensions, not just one of them. That’s hard, and it’s often expensive,” Siegel said.

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Both [Diana] Smith [Editor’s note: Smith is the Mintel associate director of retail and apparel] and Siegel said intention will play a key part in determining which fast-fashion brands will be successful in this space. Brands will need to prove that they are in this for the long run, and not to just make some quick cash from one-off sustainable collections and gain some good PR. Some brands try to hop on the sustainable bandwagon by launching an eco-conscious line of clothing, while others use it as a way to test the waters and see if it’s something their customers are interested in.