Europe's dustbin

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. New players in ultra-fast fashion are overturning an already saturated market, and African countries have become our open-air dustbins.

The way we buy clothes has changed dramatically in recent years. Whereas going to a shop used to be the norm, ordering online has become a reflex. It's quick and, above all, cheap. The number of online retailers has multiplied. Chinese companies such as Shein and Temu, which deliver in record time and at permanently low prices, disrupted the market. The first consequence is that mid-range shops are disappearing one after the other. Brands that were once household names, such as Naf Naf, Kookaï, Don't Call Me Jennyfer and Camaïeu, were neglected during the Covid crisis and missed out on the digital shift in the fashion sector. Those who relied on a strong city-centre network have had their teeth knocked out by new players who give the illusion of infinite choice and constantly changing fashion. After fast fashion, with brands such as H&M, Zara and Primark still relying heavily on physical shops, new brands have entered the market with a purely online presence. The target customers are generation Z, who use social networks and influencers to do their shopping in just a few clicks.

These new habits have completely overturned a sector that was previously confined to the seasons and the influences of fashion weeks. Today, these new brands quickly copy the latest trends and offer a virtually infinite range of products in a continuous flow. And it's no coincidence: "Economically, ultra-fast fashion brands have mastered the art of supply chain optimisation and e-commerce, leveraging advanced algorithms and data analytics to predict trends and manage inventories with unprecedented efficiency. Ultra fashion brand's direct-to-consumer model, coupled with aggressive social media marketing strategies, has allowed them to carve a substantial niche in our wardrobes and markets, " explains Muchaneta ten Napel, founder of Shape Innovate, a company that critically examines the economic footprint of the fashion industry, in a written response.

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