Penneys plan to increase prices this autumn and winter could signal the beginning of the end for fast fashion and cheap clothes.
The retailer’ parent company Associated British Foods yesterday said ‘inflationary pressures’ would force it to increase prices on some stock next season.
The company made the announcement in its interim results – which showed a 131% rise in pre-tax profits to €753.8m for the 24 weeks leading to the beginning of March.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Rachel Hennessy, the owner of Fashion Rental Company Happy Days said the news should encourage people to re-think their fashion habits.
“I think customers can now think about, kind of, changing their habits and shy away from the going into Penneys just to grab something quickly that they need for a night out or the new pyjamas for the sake of it,” she said.
“I think this could give people a chance to second guess their purchases and not try and make those impulse purchases in Penneys anymore.”
She said the rise of fast fashion has been disastrous for the environment and workers’ rights.
“In the past, there used to be two seasons a year of new clothes whereas now, I think some of the big brands are churning them out every couple of weeks,” she said.
“So, there is this constant newness being flung at everybody and the problem with that is, it creates this huge amount of waste.
“This kind of wear-once culture where you wear something once and then it stays in your wardrobe or you bin it and you don’t know where that is going to end up.
“The other problem is we don’t actually know where those clothes are coming from or how they are being made. None of these companies tell you exactly where their garments are being made or who is making them. We don’t know if their workers are being paid a minimum wage.
“That is for me, the main thing that would turn me off fast fashion. If something can be sold for a fiver or a tenner, who is really paying the price of that?”
Ms Hennessy said real change in the industry will come from big companies – but we can all do our part.
“You don’t have to go into Penneys and buy something new every time,” she said.
“You can look at what you already have in your wardrobe, you can borrow clothes off your friends, you can obviously rent, you can shop second hand. There are loads of second-hand platforms and you can get your new clothes hit there.
“Also, there was actually a woman in my shop the other day saying that she buys all her kids coats and things like that on Adverts.
“Some really good quality jackets that are a third or a quarter of the price they would be full price. These coats are perfect quality.”
Era of cheap clothes
She said the era of cheap clothes may now be coming to an end.
“I think people habits are starting to shift and their mindsets are starting to shift to thinking about where these things come from,” she said.
“At the end of the day, it is also a waste of your own money. If you wear something once, you’re not getting bang for your buck there.”
Primark outlines a range of measures it has taken to protect workers and make its products more sustainable on its website.
You can listen back here: