What Is Planned Obsolescence in the Fashion Industry?


Planned obsolescence happens when a product designer creates a design that is meant to phase out after a certain period of time. This makes the product have a lifespan of a limited time frame, often forcing the consumer to upgrade to a more expensive or newer piece. 

The thing wrong with planned obsolescence is that it makes it obvious to the consumer that products that they buy can never be considered as an investment that’s going to last forever but it should be rather considered as a purchase that is good for some time. 

As a result of this, consumers have to dish out more of their hard-earned money to buy more new items, even if the product or a part of the product is completely fine. Just imagine the amount of energy, resources, and money that is going to waste. Not to mention the amount of waste that we as a society generate from the implementation of this model.  

Fast fashion has popularized the concept of perceived obsolescence whereby customers try to stay up to date with the current fashion trends in the market even though the piece of clothes they own are in perfect condition. This has resulted in the fashion industry becoming the second-largest polluter in the world. 


It's crazy to see how the media maneuvers customers to indulge in fast fashion. It's fascinating to see how the power to break this phenomenon lies in the hands of the media because it is through them that customers’ perceptions can be altered. The space of fashion is ever-changing and constantly evolving. 


Especially with the advent of technology and e-commerce platforms, new designs and styles of fashionable products are made available for customers all over the world with just a touch of a few buttons.


For many years fast fashion has been considered as a brilliant move that completely changed this space and allowed consumers to stay in style and brands to stay in business. 


In the field of Fast  Fashion,  the fashion article has to be of the latest trend and therefore the quality of the product takes a backseat over this. Fashion mills have to keep on churning out fashionable items, whatever may the “cost” be. 


This is their only motto. The product life cycle, from concept design to having items ready for immediate sale,  can take from about a few months to a few years. Shorter this cycle,  the faster the fashion rate is.


This approach to textile production has come under scrutiny as consumers have become increasingly aware that its breakneck speed and the scale with which it is growing often comes at the expense of human and environmental exploitation. 


This fact cannot be ignored that the human costs of cheap apparel are more self-explanatory. Garment workers remain shamefully underpaid, often criminally so. At work, they face a disproportionate share of hazards with the most egregious accidents winding up in international news.


Apparel manufacturers, as well as the retailers in this industry, have to keep themselves constantly updated with who and what is currently trending in fashion and what is here to stay or what will be in fashion for a short time. 


However, this task becomes difficult, as with the advent of social media customers are quickly updated with the fashion trends and changes that are taking place. With the rise in competition, customers have a lot of options. 


Therefore it becomes extremely important for brands to act quickly and produce fashionable clothes. This is happening more frequently in the present in contrast to the past.


In the world of fashion, it is obvious that the reason we buy new clothes more regularly than our previous generations is because of the heavy influence of trends and the affordability of not being made to last garments – hence, the term perceived obsolescence.


There is unnecessary consumption of fashion due to purely aesthetic reasons. Fashion, more than any other industry in the world, embraces obsolescence as their primary goal and fast fashion simply raises the stakes.


Due to the emerging environmental concerns, sustainable fashion is gaining quite a prominence. Furthermore, only when there is mass production of unconventional but eco-friendly materials like sugarcane bagasse, banana fiber, and coffee beans will it become viable for clothing businesses to use them as a source for raw materials.



Written by: Varima Tandon












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