The pursuit of “material wealth” has a complex relationship with overconsumption, especially clothing. And we live in a society where consumers are highly influenced by societal pressure and advertising; where the idea of having everything irrespective of need has led to a wasteful consumption culture.
I understand overconsumption through the vicious loop set up by the fast fashion industry. The rapid production of cheap clothing that is advertised as seasonal ranges and must-haves by brands encourages people to get their hands on everything. This idea of staying “in-trend” leads to mindless consumption of clothing.
But consumers can’t be blamed alone since overproduction is as much a part of the problem.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting, with over 100 billion garments produced each year and 92 million tonnes ending up in landfills based on the data shared by earth.org.
The Fashion Transparency Index 2023 explains that mitigating fashion waste remains the elephant in the room with a 3% increase in fashion brands not disclosing their annual production volumes (88% in 2023 compared to 85% in 2022).
The crux, though, is that both overproduction and overconsumption lead to heaps of waste being generated. The excess inventory often finds its way to landfills, is incinerated or finds its way to countries like Uganda which serves as a second-hand clothing market.
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At the other end of the spectrum, some retailers and companies are putting in efforts to curb this wasteful production. For instance, wood-based speciality fibre company Lenzing Group adds up to 20% recycled raw material content from post-consumer textile waste to its Ecovera branded viscose fibres.
Industry veterans are also debating whether artificial intelligence (AI) can solve fashion’s overproduction problem and be a key money-making opportunity for both fashion brands and manufacturers.
Ganesh Subramanian, CEO of fashion software company Stylumia suggests a radical solution to overconsumption. Subramanian argues that in the world as we know it today, the only way to solve the supply and demand gap is to improve the forecasting of what consumers will or won’t buy.
But the question is, can technology really end the wasteful culture that we “humans” have either unknowingly or knowingly accepted and continue to market?
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In an exclusive interview with the CEO of fashion software company Stylumia, Just Style uncovers whether artificial intelligence (AI) can solve fashion’s overproduction problem and be a key money-making opportunity for both fashion brands and manufacturers.