Is AliExpress fast fashion marketplace? Well, given its vast clothing collection and the thousands of fashion vendors selling across the platform, AliExpress is a source of both fast fashion and non-fast fashion clothes.
Continue reading us as we explore more about fast fashion, AliExpress’s role in it, and ten top fashion brands you should know.
What Is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion refers to the business model of replicating high-fashion or runway clothes. Mass producing them at low cost. And retailing them when consumer demand is peaking.
Fast fashion grew in the 1900s as production became less expensive – mainly owing to quicker supply chains, the use of synthetic materials and the reliance on cheap labor from countries with low minimum wages like Bangladesh and Cambodia.
To put this in perspective, garment-making was a physically-intensive and time-consuming process before the 1800s. Individuals had to source their cotton, leather or wool, prepare them by hand, and sew them into functional, ready-to-use clothes.
But following the industrial revolution, the invention of the sewing machine paved the way for low-cost mass-production factories to work.
And, as a result, clothes became quicker and cheaper to manufacture and thus cheaper to buy. Hence, the speed and affordability of fast fashion.
Is AliExpress Fast Fashion?
AliExpress is a marketplace that hosts millions of sellers all around the globe. So, the correct answer to whether AliExpress is a fast fashion marketplace is both yes and no, because it can be both a source of fast fashion and a means to avoid it.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the AliExpress store has a fast fashion category for easy user navigation. And this designated category is frequently updated to include new releases.
Moreover, some of the clothes on AliExpress, which are not always poor quality but aren’t necessarily built to last, live up to the fast fashion tag because it’s not unusual to come across customer reviews talking about quality issues.
When sourcing apparel from AliExpress for your clothing store, it’s essential to find only the highest quality goods that you can count on to satisfy customers.
However, with AliExpress’s countless number of clothes, finding top-quality merchandise can be difficult and time-consuming. But don’t worry, our expert AliExpress agents can help your clothing company find the most durable clothes no matter what you need.
Advantages of Fast Fashion
What are the advantages of fast fashion? Well, it’s affordable. It allows everyone to look stylish. And it is profitable for the companies involved. Let’s explore each benefit in detail:
Fast Fashion Is Affordable
For consumers, affordability is perhaps the most important benefit of fast fashion.
High-end fashion labels like Louis Vuitton and Gucci charge thousands of dollars for their products, whereas the average product price on Shein is $7, $50 on Zara, and $15 to $80 on TOPSHOP.
This affordability is also beneficial because it encourages repeat purchases, as customers can regularly update their wardrobes without spending a fortune.
It’s Profitable for Involved Companies
Profitability is a huge benefit of fast fashion for clothing companies. By employing cheap labor, using less durable materials and manufacturing at a rapid pace, the fast fashion business model focuses on minimizing costs, maximizing production, and swiftly responding to trends.
And rather than replenish stock, fast fashion retailers replace sold-out items with new ones. This constant flow of fresh products makes it easier to get customers to make repeat purchases.
Additionally, since their clothes don’t usually last more than a few wears, it’s somewhat easy in the fast fashion industry to get customers to replace worn purchases with new ones.
Fast Fashion Promises a Wide Variety
Consumers find the vast array of choices fast fashion offers to be very appealing.
It allows more people with unique tastes to have fun with a virtually endless amount of styles, which fashion companies like H&M and Zara are able to roll out weekly, thanks to optimizations in the design and manufacturing processes
Disadvantages of Fast Fashion
The concept of fast fashion is to optimize profits by producing cheap clothes in volume.
When production is treated this way, companies relentlessly looking to cut costs hire cheap labor from less developed countries, use synthetic and low-quality materials to manufacture their pieces, and waste tremendous amounts of water, textile, dyes and power during manufacturing.
Furthermore, fast fashion actively promotes overconsumption, leading consumers to treat clothes as readily disposable items without considering the effects of their clothing habits.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each disadvantage.
Fast fashion relies heavily on water-intensive processes like dyeing, finishing, and fabric treatment.
Unfortunately, much of this water that’s laden with harmful chemicals and dyes is carelessly disposed into waterways – endangering aquatic life and making water unfit for consumption or agricultural use.
The UN environment program estimates that 20 percent of global wastewater comes from textile dying alone.
Additionally, garment manufacturing is energy-intensive. From spinning fibers to weaving fabrics, each step of production involves machines that depend on petroleum to work.
This reliance on non-renewable energy is also why, today, the fashion industry accounts for over 10 percent of the global carbon dioxide output – more than shipping and international flights combined, according to Bloomberg.
The Use of Low-Quality and Harmful Materials
Fast fashion’s emphasis on low costs leads to the use of cheap and synthetic materials in garment production. While these materials may seem cost-effective, they often lack durability and lose their shape and color quickly, causing consumers to always need replacements.
Furthermore, commonly used synthetic fabrics, polyester, acrylic and nylon, are non-biodegradable and can stay in landfills for over 200 years. They also shed microplastics during washes, releasing dangerous toxins that can affect aquatic ecosystems.
An estimated half a million tonnes of plastic microfibers end up in the ocean every year from washing clothes. To make things worse, even natural materials like cotton can be detrimental because of the excessive amounts of water and pesticides needed to process them.
The Exploitation of Cheap Labor
Fast fashion attracts criticism for its reliance on cheap garment laborers from third-world countries. With factories in places like Bangladesh and Ethiopia, retailers like H&M manage to pay their workers a fraction of what they would have to pay a standard worker in the U.S or U.K.
For example, this MVO Netherlands report shows that in 2019 the monthly wages for Ethiopian textile workers began at $32 (or 20 cents an hour at 40 hours per week) and increased to $122 for experienced personnel. In comparison, the average U.S textile worker earns $14 per week.
Encouragement of a Throwaway Consumer Mentality
A social disadvantage of fast fashion is that it encourages wasteful consumption.
Clothing companies who customers make repeat purchases, urge modern consumers to appreciate looking new or wearing the latest outfit, leading to an alarming amount of landfills filled with never worn or barely-worn clothes that are no longer in trend.
Moreover, this 2018 study from the Fashion Retail Academy shows that 83 percent of 2000 respondents aged 18-35 admitted to buying clothes they never wore, 22 percent said they had over 10 items they never wore and 12 percent disposed of old clothes rather than recycle them.
Does AliExpress Offer Fast Fashion?
Yes, AliExpress offers fast fashion. However, It’s important to remember that AliExpress’s massive selection still makes it possible to find clothes that aren’t fast fashion, although, with more time and research.
In conclusion, AliExpress is both a source of fast fashion and a means to avoid it. While you will find fast fashion products on AliExpress, the marketplace’s vast item selection makes it possible to also find eco-friendly and sustainable garments for your customers too
Remember, if you find it difficult as an ecommerce merchant to sift through the countless fashion items available on AliExpress, don’t worry.
As a professional AliExpress sourcing agent, we can help you find exactly what you need. We can also handle order fulfillment for your business and provide other forms of logistical support. Reach out to us for more information about our one-stop fulfillment service.
1. Does AliExpress Only Sell Fast Fashion?
While AliExpress offers fast fashion, you should understand that not all items on the marketplace fall into fast fashion. With enough research and effort, you will undoubtedly find fashion merchants who create and sell eco-friendly garments on AliExpress.
2. Who Are The Biggest Consumers of Fast Fashion?
The Dublin Institute of Technology says the target audience for fast fashion retailers largely consists of consumers aged between 18 and 24 (often students with low incomes), with women and young girls consuming fast fashion more than any other group.
As for the countries that consume the most fast fashion products, China, the US, India, Japan, Germany, and the UK lead with the largest markets, according to Gitnux.
3. What Company Is The Biggest Fast Fashion Producer?
Inditex, the parent company of Zara, is widely regarded as the biggest fast fashion producer with reported revenue of $34.5 billion in 2022, ahead of H&M with $21.4 billion and Uniqlo with $16.8 billion, according to this Statista report.
4.Fast Fashion Brands You Should Know
Looking for examples of successful fast fashion stores? Take a look at ten of the most successful fast fashion retailers in 2023.
Founded in 1947, Swedish H&M Group (or Hennes & Mauritz) is a multinational design and clothing corporation that sells fast fashion for anyone – any age, any gender.
It’s the second-largest international clothing retailer with 4399 physical locations across 77 countries, which, along with H&M, includes Monki, COS, & Other Stories, and more.
In recent years, H&M has captured widespread attention through its highly publicized collaborations with elite designers like Balmain, Kenzo, Alexander Wang, Versace, and Simone Rocha, as well as high-profile celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Zara Larsson.
H&M’s founders – the Persson family – say their goal is to democratize fashion. To combat the environmental costs of such a feat, they opened the H&M Foundation – a non-profit that aims to address some of the environmental problems associated with the fast fashion industry.
The company also allows customers to recycle old clothes by simply returning them in and pledges to switch to sustainable materials by 2030.
Forever 21 is a Los-Angeles based fast fashion retailer that offers trendy and affordable men’s, women’s, and children’s fashion apparel, home goods, accessories, and beauty products.
As of 2022, Forever 21 operates about 600 stores worldwide, with 400 stores in 43 U.S. states and the highest densities in California, New York, Georgia, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
Outside of the U.S., it franchises most of its stores or operates them as joint ventures with local partners.
Facing immense competition and growing copyright disputes, Forever 21 went bankrupt in 2019, reaching a deal to sell its operations to Brookfield Properties, Simon Property Group, and the Authentic Brands Group in February 2022.
The company has also halted operations in Europe and Asia to focus on its more profitable markets in the U.S.
Headquartered in Spain, Zara is a leading multinational retailer that deals in men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, footwear, accessories, beauty products, and perfumes. The fast fashion giant has over 3000 stores across 96 countries, with shipping in over 100 countries.
Zara’s highly efficient design, manufacturing, and delivery processes are outstanding. It’s said that Zara’s designers can sketch a design and have it ready on store shelves in as little as two to six weeks, compared to the industry average of three to six months.
This rapid turnover is also the reason why Zara is capable of producing 11,000 designs per year when the industry average is 2000 to 4000 pieces.
Headquartered in Pennsylvania, Urban Outfitters (or URBN) is a global lifestyle and clothing retail corporation that operates in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Qatar and Kuwait.
Originally named Free People, the American fashion chain offers young adults a range of bohemian merchandise that includes women’s and men’s regular clothing, activewear, footwear, accessories, beauty and wellness products, as well as vinyl records and CD cassettes.
Urban Outfitters does not disclose much information about its design and manufacturing processes, but it is said that most of the company’s products are manufactured in-house by its wholesale division.
TOPSHOP (formerly Top Shop) is a British fashion brand that specializes in women’s fashion apparel, footwear, and accessories.
Formerly part of the Arcadia Group, TOPSHOP was sold to British competitor ASOS after Arcadia declared bankruptcy. Today, TOPSHOP operates through the ASOS app and website as well as through Nordstrom Stores in the U.S.
Over the years, TOPSHOP has collaborated with high-fashion brands and designers to introduce highly acclaimed collections.
For instance, in 2007, British supermodel Kate Moss designed her TOPSHOP collection, and, in that same year, artist Stella Vine released a limited-edition range inspired by her artworks.
Most notably, in 2014, the brand agreed to co-release an activewear line with Beyoncé. Initially called Parkwood Topshop Athletic Limited, the activewear brand was finally released as Ivy Park in 2016.
Headquartered in London, ASOS is a top online fashion and cosmetics dealer that formerly stood for AsSeenOnScreen, as it mainly sold imitations of garments from movies, music videos, and TV.
Today, the company sells products from over 850 brands as well as its original apparel designs and accessories, with shipping available in all 196 countries and no physical locations besides its offices in London, Birmingham, and Berlin.
With 15 million Instagram followers and 5.5 million likes on Facebook, a standout feature of the ASOS brand is its digital marketing leverage.
Some sources claim that in 2009, the online retailer had a digital customer base ratio of one Twitter follower to eight Facebook followers and one hundred active email subscribers, with over 2 million customers in total.
And, in 2017, its Instagram stories ad campaign managed to garner over 3 million interactions in the UK only, according to Creative Review.
UNIQLO is a global casual wear designer, manufacturer, and retailer that offers the kind of practical, everyday clothes that make people’s lives easier. Like Forever 21, it offers clothes for everybody, of all ages and all genders.
The Japanese clothing company sets its garments apart thanks to its “LifeWear” design approach (a concept that puts quality, practicality, and beauty first in the design process.) And its commitment to the development of innovative clothes with benefits like heat retention, breathability, and moisture-wicking.
Founded by Nitin Passi in the UK, Missguided is a leading fast-fashion retailer that sells women’s clothing for the 16-35 age range. The company has its head office in Stretford, Greater Manchester, and operates physically through department stores in the UK and U.S.
Missguided also earns widespread publicity with its hyped celebrity collaborations.
In September 2016, the brand launched a new campaign with American singer and model Amber Rose. Additionally, the brand launched collections with popular bloggers Carli Bybel, Caroline Receveur, Sarah Ashcroft, and Alexis Ren.
Founded in 2008, Shein is one of China’s largest fashion companies. It sells a wide range of men’s and women’s clothing, beachwear, dresses, tops, activewear, lingerie and accessories.
Shein is another example of a fashion company that leverages social media.
According to this CNN report., the TikTok trend of buying Shein’s extraordinarily cheap clothes in bulk and unboxing them like a haul plays a critical role in driving customers, especially low-budget and teenage shoppers,
Additionally, in 2020, Shein was the most talked-about brand on TikTok and YouTube, and the 4th most talked-about brand on Instagram.
For customer growth, the retailer offers relatively low prices to stimulate demand. With more spending, customers receive more discounts, which they are encouraged to apply over their next shopping trips.
Founded in 2007, ZAFUL is an online fashion company that offers a wide selection of party wear, swimwear, shoes, accessories, and casual clothes for men and women. It is owned by the Hong Kong Bi’an Information Technology Corporation and is headquartered in China.
Calling itself the “one-stop online shop for today’s most daring, exciting, and edgy Fashion, Zaful is progressively making a name for itself on the international scene.
In 2018, four years after opening, it participated in London Fashion Week. The next year, 2019, Zaful participated in the New York Spring and Summer Fashion Week events. Zaful even partnered with Marvel in 2020 to launch a Spider-Man clothing and accessory line.
5. Who Started Fast Fashion?.
The phrase “fast fashion” dates back to 1989 when Zara first opened in New York. Then, the New York Times coined the term “fast fashion” to describe Zara’s mission of needing only 15 days for a garment to move from design to hanging on a store rack.
Although, it’s worth mentioning that way before Zara opened in 1975, older clothing companies like Bentton and H&M experimented with the concept of mass replicating trendy clothing at low cost. But, it wasn’t until Zara went to New York that the term fast fashion was invented.
6. How Big Is The Fast Fashion Market?
The global fast fashion market is estimated to be worth over $100 billion in 2022, according to Statista. This forecast is expected to rise in the coming years. By 2027, the global fast fashion industry is projected to reach over $180 billion.
7. What are Fast Fashion Clothes Commonly Made of?
Synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic, rayon, and nylon make up 60 percent of today’s clothing. These artificial materials are cheaper and easier to source, and high-quality, natural fabrics like silk or wool are rather expensive.
However, plant-based cotton is also commonly used, as it is breathable, easy to dye and print, and considerably cheaper than silk and wool.
The downside to synthetic materials is that their production is fossil fuel-intensive and significantly emits greenhouse gasses.
And, while cotton is plant-based, its use is often frowned upon for the resulting environmental impact. Cotton farming consumes millions of tons of water and pesticides each year, and contributes immensely to water and soil pollution.
8. What Happens to Wasted Clothes in Fast Fashion?
Of the 100 billion garments produced each year, 92 million tons go to waste.
From clothes that no longer fit, to items that have gone out of fashion, and even pieces that were never worn or sold, the fate of these wasted textiles can vary depending on how they are disposed of. Let’s take a look;
- Incinerators; For manufacturers, excess stock or unsold items can be costly to reuse or recycle, so, as a quick solution, some companies burn their waste textiles.
However, this is a harmful practice because the burning of clothes emits carbon dioxide and other toxic greenhouse gasses that worsen the climate change situation.
- 2. Landfills; When they aren’t burned, most discarded clothes are sent to landfills. The Council for Textile Recycling estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5 percent of all landfill space.
- Donations and second-hand markets; Used clothing that’s in good condition can be donated to charity organizations that offer relief to the needy.
Discarded clothes may also enter second-hand markets like thrift stores. And in most cases, secondhand clothes that aren’t incinerated or sent to landfills get exported to the developing countries of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
- Recycling facilities; In a recycling facility, used textiles can be repurposed into new clothing or products like pet bedding, carpet padding or rags to be used in manufacturing plants.
9. What Is The Opposite Of Fast Fashion?
The opposite of fast fashion is “slow fashion” or “sustainable fashion.” The slow fashion approach mandates ethical and eco-friendly practices, with a huge focus on durability, fair labor, and sustainable production.
Ultimately, the goal of slow fashion is to produce timeless, classic pieces that withstand the test of time, discouraging the wasteful throwaway behavior of fast fashion consumers.