On the 12th day of our trip, we attended a presentation given by Francesca Romana Rinaldi, an international teacher at Cattolica University. Here, she teaches courses mainly focused on business management. During the presentation, she explained the business models of various companies and how the fashion industry has changed completely in the last 10 to 15 years. Furthermore, she told us that the evolution of the fashion industry was due to the addition of a new style of selling clothes, called fast fashion. In effect to this new way of product selling was how consumers started to shop. The rapid change in fashion as well as companies responses, really interested me most about Francesca’s presentation. In addition, I was eager to learn about the sustainability of each company.
Stores such as H&M revolutionized the way clothing was made and sold. Fast fashion stores introduced a business model which completes production extremely quickly. Basically what they do is take the ideas that are given when high-end brands have their fashion shows. This technique cuts their production time to just under a month. Fast fashion is speedy when comparing production time to Luxury brands as they only launch new lines every six months. While high end brands go through a two-year process of making decisions, yarn and textile fairs, fashion shows, and then finally launch the collection in store, fast fashion companies simply use their ideas to produce the accessories. They essentially skip more than half of the business model of luxury brands. Because fast fashion reduces production time greatly, it allows customers to shop on a week to week basis rather than seasonally. Also, luxury and fast fashion companies differ in the fact that luxury brands focus on high quality products that are able to last years, while fast fashion focuses on cheap clothing that will only be in style for a short period of time. In between fast fashion and luxury brands are premium brands, such as The North Face. These companies produce a larger amount of products than luxury brands, but still focus on high quality. Premium brands are also not as vertically integrated as luxury brands are.
As far as sustainability goes, fast fashion has affected the environment in a negative way. Fashion is now the 2nd most polluting industry in the world. Fast fashion models use a large amount of cotton which spikes the use of pesticides and chemicals. The increase in cotton is responsible for over 40,000 deaths per year. In addition, cotton requires a large amount of water use, which steals water from things and people who need them most. Lastly, since fast fashion brands mass produce their shipping emissions are astronomical. Luxury brands, on the other hand, are much better when it comes to sustainability as they focus their production on the phrase, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. They also emphasize the balance of the three “P’s,” “People, Planet, and Profit,” meaning that it is not all about profits, but also our earth and the customers experience. Also, companies have begun to use more polyester, as it can be easily recycled and reused. By 2030, sustainability is aimed to be much higher, and companies will be forced to encounter in greater environmental preservations.
I agree with luxury brands sustainability requirements because of how much they not only emphasize the profit but also the customers and the environment. However, I agree with fast fashions idea of a quick turnover rate because it allows consumers to wear the latest trends for a cheap price. I was surprised that agencies are giving companies until 2030 to improve their sustainability, as I feel it should be a much more urgent subject. Something that happened today which impacted my study abroad experience was our visit to the Armani museum. This museum archived some of Armani’s greatest designs through the long history of the company. Today, Armani is 82 years old and is still producing beautiful clothing and accessories. I found it very interesting to look at the fashion of the archived accessories in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s because of the fact that I was not even born yet. Also, after the Armani tour, a few us of took a stroll through the businesses surrounding the Duomo. This walk opened my eyes even more about how big fashion currently is in Milan. As we walked through several stores, the high prices of clothing and accessories caught my eye. Unfortunately, these accessories were too high-end and I could not afford them. Although I could not buy any of these, it was still amazing to look at all of them. Tomorrow is our last day in Italy. The two weeks went by so fast, but I enjoyed every second of it. Ciao blog readers!