These are good times for Zara and its owner, Inditex. The chain is one of the lucky few outside the luxury space whose customers stayed loyal even as prices rose and Shein steamrolled other fast-fashion retailers. Zara is investing in more stores to meet surging post-pandemic demand for physical retail, and has room to grow in the US, where its brand is well known but not yet ubiquitous.
So when Inditex reports first-half results on Wednesday, expect another sunny take on the global consumer, and probably a rosy outlook for the holiday season. The future beyond that is murkier. Consumer appetite for fast fashion looks set to grow and grow. But regulators have cheap clothes in their sights. In July, the European Commission called fast fashion “highly unsustainable.” It is drafting some 16 pieces of legislation to force retailers to assume financial and legal responsibility for environmental footprint of the clothes they produce. California and New York are also considering tougher eco-regulations for the industry.
No wonder then that Inditex and its chief rivals talk almost as much about resale and textile recycling initiatives as booming sales. The difference in scale is staggering, however: earlier this year, for instance, Inditex invested €3.5 million ($3.75 million) in Moda Re, a Spanish company that processes used clothes for resale or recycling; that’s roughly equal to the sales Inditex generates in an hour. Shein has partnered with the supply chain software firm Queen of Raw to repurpose unused textiles. H&M hopes to decouple growth from its environmental impact by investing in secondhand fashion and other projects.
They’ll have to do more to meet waste rules that kick by the end of the decade. Less clear is what the scaleable solution will prove to be, and how much it will cost: many of the clothes sold by fast-fashion giants aren’t easily recycled, and secondhand retailers can absorb only so much merchandise. Developing countries that are top recipients of used fast fashion, including Uganda and Kenya, are trying to limit future shipments. In one small experiment, environmental campaign group Changing Markets Foundation found that many items returned to brands for reuse or recycling were simply thrown away or shipped to Africa.
Upcycling, resale and recycling initiatives are still in the experimental stage, aimed more at buying time and ensuring fast-fashion retailers are part of the sustainability conversation, rather than simply a punching bag. If retailers are serious about their intentions to curb fashion waste, a scalable solution is needed soon, before the clothes flying off the racks at Zara are regulated out of existence.
What Else to Watch for This Week
Some of the biggest New York Fashion Week moments were stacked toward the front of the schedule, but the back half will see plenty of draws. Today’s lineup includes Ulla Johnson, Jason Wu, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Area, Sergio Hudson and Staud
NYFW: Michael Kors, Altuzarra, Tory Burch, LaQuan Smith
NYFW: Brandon Maxwell, Gabriela Hearst, Carolina Herrera, Cos, Elena Velez
NYFW: Puppets & Puppets, Willy Chavarria, Luar
“Donyale Luna: Supermodel”, a documentary about the life and career of the first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue, premieres on HBO
Inditex reports first-half results
Harris Reed kicks off London Fashion Week
Vogue World comes to London. The star-studded event’s first iteration, at New York Fashion Week a year ago, presented the ticket-buying public with a small army of celebrities, models and designers. This time, Condé Nast promises a “theatrical West End production.”
Mytheresa reports quarterly results
“Invisible Beauty,” a documentary about Bethann Hardison, enters limited release in the US
London Fashion Week: Fashion East, Stefan Cooke, Chopona Lowena, Ahluwalia
A pair of fashion-themed exhibitions open in London: “‘Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto” at the V&A Museum and the British Fashion Council’s “Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion” celebrating young designers.
LFW: Roksanda, JW Anderson, Molly Goddard, Richard Quinn, Skepta’s Mains
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