ELIZABETH CLINE (AUTHOR)
In 2013, shopping at fast fashion stores like H&M, Zara, and Target will start to carry the same stigma as eating at fast-food restaurants. Consumers have shown they’ve reached a breaking point with factory fires and human rights abuses in the developing world and with the loss of garment jobs in the United States (we will not soon forget that our Olympic uniforms
were being outsourced to China).
What will make the growing anti-fast fashion sentiment stick is fatigue with the uniformity, lack of quality, and emptiness of buying cheap clothes. The thrill of getting a $10 top and tossing it out has lost its luster, and consumers are going to want much more from their wardrobes in 2013: We want to be engaged in the full life cycle of our clothes, rather than just blindly following trends.
Consumers will increasingly buy new less often, opting instead to support refashioned vintage, clothing swaps, and will work with a tailor or on their own sewing machine to customize their wardrobes. When they do buy new, they’ll look for cutting-edge new designers and brands who are rethinking the way we consume fashion and who focus on good fabrics and quality construction and original, timeless design.
Perhaps the biggest shift of all: The idea that buying cheap clothes makes you a smart consumer will at last fall out of favor. And consumers will start to view clothing as something worth investing in again. Budgeting for quality, ethically made clothing sold at a fair price will no longer be seen as elitist, it will be viewed as prioritizing the enormous role that clothing plays in our culture, economy, and personal lives.