|Abstract or Summary
- Fast fashion is a term used to describe trendy apparel created with a short cycle time and planned obsolescence. Consumers view such items as disposable due to poor garment quality and low price points. Although consumers are aware of the environmental impact of apparel consumption, the popularity of fast fashion persists. Manufacturers and retailers push fast fashion into consumer markets, yet research has not focused on consumers', specifically future professionals in the apparel industry, feelings about fast fashion and its impact on the environment. Therefore, the present research addresses this gap in existing research.
The purpose of the study was to identify factors that perpetuate fast fashion as well as to investigate the constructs and feelings consumers associate with the fast fashion cycle. Furthermore, this research sought to determine if consumers of fast fashion perceived the limited lifespan of their clothing as problematic.
In-depth interviews were conducted using a moderately structured questionnaire. Thirteen female undergraduate students majoring in design and/or merchandising management participated. During the interviews, participants displayed five fast fashion items they no longer wear and discussed why they stopped wearing them, as well as how they feel about no longer being able to wear them. Participants also discussed how they feel about fast fashion, as well as how they feel fast fashion impacts society and the environment.
The first objective was to understand what factors prompt consumers to stop wearing fast fashion apparel. Communicative failure of the garments, including quality issues, fit issues and style-related meaning conflict, as well as boredom prompted participants to stop wearing the fast fashion items. The second objective was to understand how these factors change consumers' feelings about fast fashion apparel items they no longer wear. Quality issues and fit issues changed how participants felt about the items; these findings were explained within the context of Symbolic Interaction Theory. The third objective was to learn how consumers feel about the limited lifespan of fast fashion apparel. Feelings ranged from neutral to negative. Participants often noted that the low price of the apparel justified the limited lifespan. When asked how fast fashion impacts society, feelings ranged from positive to negative. Social implications included the promotion of consumerism, stimulation of the economy, fashion accessibility to all levels of income, ethics, and environmental impact. Based on findings, a model was developed to describe why consumers purchase fast fashion, why consumers stop wearing fast fashion, consumers’ perceptions of social implications, and consumers’ coping strategies and justification for fast fashion.