Using technology in the modern world is a given. It is regularly debated whether technology is good or bad in everyday life, never mind solely in the fashion industry. From the virtues of advertising and online shopping to the vices of fast fashion and sustainability, it is clear that the debate over technology runs deeper than what meets the eye.
There is no doubt that technology creates access to fashion in a way that has never been seen before. The development of phones and social media has created a way for fashion to be advertised around the world in a device that’s as small as your back pocket. It has created a global fashion culture and resulted in a surge in sales.
In 2018, the fashion industry accounted for 24% of sales from online purchases. It shows that the fashion industry is now booming more than ever with the aid of portable advertising. This boom translates into the creation of online algorithms, encouraging many to start to experiment with their style.
Another virtue from portable advertising for the fashion industry is how it has created a growth in jobs in marketing and technology. In the December 2019 edition of Vogue Business, Kati Chitrakorn explains how the fashion industry is slowly starting to shift. She expresses how brands need to diversify where they advertise and market their products for a long-term brand value.
From this understanding, there has been an explosion of jobs in the sector. A quick Google search into the fashion marketing world and it becomes quite clear that there is a demand for those that have the skills. This is good news to many as it is an interesting sector of the fashion industry to be employed in, and a sector that will keep continuing to grow.
With so much success in the advertising sector of the fashion industry, there is no surprise that online shopping has become a virtue too. The creation of websites, social media and smartphones has led to the accessibility to get whatever you want, whenever you want. More and more people are able to experiment with their style through brands that are not on their local high street. More importantly, people are able to access their size. From body inclusive brands such as Savage X Fenty to upmarket sustainable brands like Sotela, the rise of technology has created instant access to sizes and brands that help and suit the shopper.
The largest example to date of how technology has helped the fashion world has been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to access the high street from your phone, laptop, or tablet has kept the fashion industry going.
Boohoo alone reported a 45% increase in online sales between March 2020 and May 2020, showing how the online world has driven a profit throughout the pandemic. This is a virtue as businesses that were due to go into administration, such as Cath Kidston, can now comfortably operate online with the safety that the online fashion world is rapidly growing in sales.
Technology + fast fashion
The biggest vice and virtue stemming from advertisements and trends on social media is there is now a widespread understanding and access to sources explaining the importance of understanding where your clothes are from.
In the modern-day, it is now impossible to overlook the complexities of fast fashion. For many, it is a virtue to understand the complications of fashion, but for others, it creates guilt that they can only shop in fast fashion brands. This may be due to economic reasons, or even style and size reasons. One thing is for sure, and that the creation of technology has only increased the popularity of fast fashion.
The increased accessibility to fashion has also increased the accessibility to funding an online business that only cares for their own profits and what the consumer wants. This has led to a culture of the ‘next best thing’, with many constantly ordering online off fast fashion brands for the current trend, rather than investing in timeless pieces. From this, it has created a shift in the fashion industry as more people are willing to dispose and re-purchase, resulting in an addictive shopping style. Sure, this keeps the fashion industry afloat, but what happens when it is revealed online that the most popular fast fashion brands have started to underpay their workers and employ them in harsh conditions?
Technology + sustainability issues
Although technology gives people access to sustainable brands, many of them do not have an accessible price point. This forces many to buy items through fast fashion websites, which creates sustainability issues through shipping pollution and the amount of packaging used to send items to their destinations. In many cases, the pledge of online businesses to improve packaging and sustainability levels will not come into effect until several years’ time. For example, Zara’s sustainability pledge does not come into effect until 2025.
It is needless to say that the creation and evolution of technology have perhaps enabled too much access to non-sustainable sources. Although we can use the internet for research to use technology for good in the fashion industry, it has become far too tempting for many to buy online in an addictive manner. Advertising has created jobs, but it has also enabled the world of unsustainable fast fashion to grow.
For more information on fast fashion and sustainability, check out our campaign on climate change here.