Consumer Behavior Concerning Fast Fashion

Consumer Behavior Concerning Fast Fashion

Consumer Behavior Concerning Fast Fashion: A Case Study Analysing

Corresponding Author: Ms. Shreya Roy, Founder, Ecofunomics LLP & Ph.D. Research Scholar, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Kolkata

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The purpose of this case study is to understand the fashion consumption pattern of rational consumers. This compact case study is a hybrid of different branches of social sciences. We bring in variables to understand the behavioral decisions of a rational consumer behind choosing a fashion-clothing brand. The study utilizes theoretical and empirical analysis to conclude and infer the results.

According to Winter (1971), a competitive firm that makes inefficient decision suffer loss because of poor cost management skills. Manne (1965) and Marris (1964) argued that failure to maximize profits lowers the brand stock value. Hence, brands come up with unique marketing and sales strategies to maximize their profits. We can conclude fast fashion is one such strategy. Our research focuses on emerging fast fashion and vanishing slow and sustainable fashion trends.

In this case study, it is attempted to theoretically model, consumer behavior based on their purchasing power and preferences. The model depicts that a rational consumer prefers the best quality possible at a given price. Our primary data source stated that 70% of the population is unaware that the textile and fashion industry can harm the environment or labor welfare. Further, the primary data collected validate the theoretical results. A rational consumer prefers trendy-fashionable, quality products at affordable prices, along with easy availability.


Since the 1990s, the global economy has witnessed the emergence of throwaway fashion, more commonly known as fast fashion. The changing quotient of the fashion industry has forced producers to create non-biodegradable, low-cost, flexible fashion designs with negative externalities. The fashion market is profoundly competitive. The fashion run designs need to be restocked and refreshed based on season, demographic division, occasion, gender, occupation, and so much more. The increasing number of fashion seasons and reasons led to the emergence of fast fashion. 

The significant features of fast fashion are:

  • a shorter life cycle with higher profit margins
  • low predictability, 
  • high impulse purchase rate, 
  • and high volatility of the market demand. 

The low cost of a product also decreases its quality of the product. Most fast fashion brands produce their products with synthetic, non-biodegradable, petro-chemical textile materials, and so on. Most consumers are unaware that their clothes are of low environmental standards. However, merchandised sellers create marketing strategies and influence customers to frequent their visits to stores. They even trick consumers into believing that their brands are eco-friendly. Such greenwashing techniques are making it difficult for consumers to make responsible consumption decisions.  

The increasing demand in favor of fast fashion can be attributed to the millennial world. The fake lifestyle of the young internet people forces the crowd to desire a higher lifestyle at an affordable price. 

Until the mid-1980s, people believed in standard and basic wardrobe styles such as denim and white shirts. People were indifferent towards fashion, styles, and basic clothing designs. Consumers were less conscious of the cyclical fashion phenomenon. Hence, it was easy for the producers to produce mass-scale garments of high quality and sustainable material. Mass-scale production has a long shelf duration and hence affects the environment less. Unlike fast fashion, they aren’t dumped into the environment. They can be easily recycled or reused. 

Before proceeding further, it is important to quickly differentiate between fast and slow fashion. As mentioned earlier, fast fashions are those clothes or brands that quickly change or upgrade fashion according to the market demand. According to the ZARA report 2006, in the autumn, the market demand for one-shoulder cocktail dresses exploded. However, as soon as the retailers stocked up their store shelves, the demand fell and the dresses moved to the unsold stock. The virgin synthetic materials are then dumped into mother Earth. These materials are non-biodegradable as they are mostly produced by synthetic materials such as polyethylene terephthalate. Such dumping actions have irreversible effects. 

Fast fashion garments are trendy, affordable, and easily available. Apart from the environmental standards, labor welfare standards are also compromised to produce these fashionable pieces. Fast fashion brands are guilty of labor exploitation. Most brands prefer outsourcing their production process to less developed countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Vietnam so on. Overseas outsourcing is done to seek advantage of cheap unskilled labor resources. Most workers are forced to work in unethical, deteriorating health conditions and low-wage conditions. The women and children are mainly exploited since they are forced to work in the unorganized, informal, and inaccurately reported sector.

Some widely famous fast fashion brands are H&M, Zara, Missguided, Forever 21, Zaful, Boohoo, and Fashion Nova. so on. 

Whereas, slow fashion or more commonly known as sustainable fashion brands has standard designs with medium to high price ranges. Hence, we witness the fading of most sustainable brands. They use eco-friendly materials, have standard wage scales, and are more responsible producers. Some such famous brands are Levi’s, Able, Patagonia, Boden, People Tree so on. 

A rational consumer makes consumption choices based on disposable income, class, society, taste, and preference. To understand such consumption patterns in-depth research and analysis are required. An attempt is made to model such behavioral decisions. 


The case study is divided into two parts:

  1. A theoretical model trying to explain the rational behavior of the consumer’s fashion purchases.
  2. An empirical study to validate the theoretical model. A digital primary survey was conducted to collect data on sustainable consumption. 

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Ms. Shreya Roy
Ms. Shreya Roy

Ms. Roy is the Director and Founder at Ecofunomics LLP. She is an economist by profession and currently a Ph.D. research scholar at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade She is a lover of art and a philanthropist by heart.

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