The fast fashion phenomena finds its origin in the nineties and boosted to great heights in the first decade of this century. Buying a lot for a very low price became the rule, enabling the possibility to be "dressed like a million dollar" for people with a limited budget. Companies like H&M, Zara and Mango successfully "inspired" their collections on the runway shows and it took a trained eye to distinguish real from fake. In the meantime other companies have entered the market with Primark as the top-notch player of the moment.
Since the first overwhelming experience of buying great stuff for one third of the price one was used to, a lot has happened; our closets are full, with sufficient possibilities to make new outfits regularly and therewith the need for a new "kick" every week has diminished accordingly. At the same time fashion has transformed itself from bling-bling and show off into a stylish reinvention of neo-classics and heritage in the mix with high-end technology.
Not to mention all kind of disastrous situations in production countries coming to the surface; workers in China ending their lives because of poor working conditions, people killed in Bangladesh while their factory went up in flames and many other situations of modern slavery we don't know of.
Today after five years of economic downfall, fast fashion is still an integral part of the business, yet change is on the way. I predict that it will take 2 years before the present (small) group of people turning their back against fast fashion will have grown exponentially.
One of the biggest retailers in the world H&M has followed a smart path of preparing themselves for the coming reality of "not so" fast fashion. By noticing in time that the end could be near, they reacted with the launch of Cos with timeless (designed) basics, and the recently opened &Other Stories, focusing on accessories and special items. With these concepts they've created a situation to have an answer to the growing demand for quality and great finds to liven up existing wardrobes.
An increasing group of people - especially youngsters - opt for less items of better quality: newly bought or second hand. I am not an advocator of consuming less, I simply believe we'll make more sustainable and durable choices, which will have its effect on future retail landscapes.
The fast fashion era will slowly transform into a "not so" fast fashion period, with more eye for the situation of workers, environmental issues and a different focus on what counts in life.
It's wonderful that Primark is doing great in the UK and at the point of concurring the mainland, but beware of the shift in consumer behavior; from on-the-spot to off-the-grid.