Is Aritzia Fast Fashion? Brand Breakdown

by jacky chou
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Aritzia, a Canadian fashion retailer, was founded in 1984 by Brian Hill in Vancouver. It focuses on creating ‘Everyday Luxury’ collections for women of all ages, including on-trend dresses, workwear, outerwear, and activewear. With its several own brands like Babaton, Tna, and Wilfred, it has become the dream of many teens and fashion-conscious individuals in Canada. But is Aritzia fast fashion?

What Is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion refers to cheap, trendy clothing sampling ideas from catwalk or celebrity culture and turning them into garments in street stores at a quick speed to meet consumer demands. As a result, the brands produce high volumes of garments yearly.

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The goal is to get these new styles on the shelves as fast as possible so consumers can snap them up while still at the height of popularity. Consequently, consumers can update their wardrobes quickly and affordably.

On the downside, fast fashion has made the industry one of the world’s largest polluters. The overproduction and consumption play into the idea that repeating outfit is a fashion faux pas, and you need to spot trendy looks as they happen to stay relevant. As a result, you discard these outfits after a few wears.

Is Aritzia a Fast Fashion Brand?

Aritzia Boston store

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Yes, Aritzia is considered a fast fashion brand. Their price tag may be higher, but this brand produces excessive clothing, always adding new styles that follow rapidly changing trends. Despite the pricy nature, some of the clothes end up ultimately on sale for a lower price.

Is Aritzia Sustainable?

Aritzia fashion has a website with a full detailed sustainability page. For example, it banned fur (not including wool and down), conducted a materiality assessment, joined the Sustainable Apparel Collection, partnered with the Better Work program, joined the Better Cotton Initiative, achieving carbon neutrality, and became a member of the Textile Exchange.

Aritzia Babaton subset

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The site also notes that Aritzia is decreasing water usage and adopting more sustainable materials.

Despite all these, Aritzia is still rated as ‘not good enough ‘ in the sustainability department. Although it uses eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, it doesn’t elaborate on the initiatives to eliminate or reduce harmful chemicals and textile waste. Moreover, despite its carbon-neutral claims, there is no evidence it has a useful technique for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, the brand has a general message reiterating the minimization of animal suffering. But it has no formal animal welfare policy to support this claim. For example, it does not use fur, exotic animal skin, or angora, but it still uses exotic animal hair, wool, and leather. And the fact that it traces some animal products at the first stages of production means that animal welfare is not addressed during the manufacturing process.

Fashion Transparency Index gave it a 21-30% score on labor matters because most supply chains are not certified by labor standards that ensure workers’ health, safety, living wages, or other labor rights. There is also no evidence it implements practices to support diversity and inclusion and ensure living wage payment in its supply chain.

Is Aritzia Ethical?

Ethical decisions are moral decisions made for the betterment of society. Ethics in the fashion industry revolves around making moral decisions and ensuring that fashion companies do not compromise safety and quality.

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Aritzia’s supplier code of conduct discloses the framework through which its suppliers are governed. Furthermore, it affirms commitment to getting rid of all forms of discrimination and unequal pay.

Aritzia states that before it works with a partner factory, it has to conduct a country risk assessment, meaning the partner factories must adhere to its code of conduct.

If the supplier qualifies, they will partner as Aritzia continues to monitor its ethical standards. However, it is notable that the brand has supply chains in countries citing poor work conditions, forced labor, and unfair wages.

Aritzia’s lack of transparency and refusal to publish relevant information on its activities pose a significant stumbling block. Furthermore, it scored 23% in Transparency Index 2021 report because of the lack of information regarding its partner factories and workers’ treatment in its supply chain.

Even though Aritzia condemns child labor and other unfair and harmful labor practices, an improvement would be for it to go public with the list of its partner factories along with the employee wages and the audit scores results of these factories.

What Materials Does Aritzia Use?

Aritzia uses materials on mass, including cotton, nylon, and polyester. In addition, it started incorporating sustainable materials such as organic cotton, recycled materials, and responsibly sourced materials in its production. However, these materials only constitute 40% of the total production.

Tencel wrap dress

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One of the most used fabrics by Aritzia is cotton. The brand has done well migrating towards using more sustainable and responsibly sourced cotton. Better cotton, organic cotton, and recycled cotton constitute 57%  of the brand’s cotton. Laying a shirt over their Tna Mainland t-shirt that’s made of 100% soft cotton feels comfortable.

Where Are Aritzia Clothes Made?

In production, Aritzia partners with factories and fabric suppliers worldwide, including Canada, the U.S., China, France, Italy, Peru, Romania, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, and more.

Vancouver's largest Aritzia warehouse

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While the brand gives the countries its suppliers are based, it doesn’t reveal the specific factories making the consumers doubt its capacity to be ranked as one of the ethical brands. Regarding its sizing, Aritzia clothes, just like Burberry, often run small.

How to Spot Fast Fashion Brands

Here are some of the key factors common to fast fashion brands

  • Hundreds of styles, touching on all the latest trends.
  • They have an extremely short turnaround time between when a trend is seen on the catwalk or celebrity media and when it hits the shelves.
  • Offshore manufacturing, where labor is cheap, with the use of workers on low wages and inadequate rights or safety
  • They have multiple supply chains with inadequate visibility beyond the first tier.
  • A limited quantity of a particular garment  
  • They use cheap, low-quality materials, causing clothes to degrade after just a few wears.

Disadvantages of Fast Fashion

Discarded fast fashion

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a) Environmental Pollution

The pressure of reducing costs and speeding up production implies that environmental corners must be cut. For example, fast fashion brands use cheap toxic textile dyes, the largest polluters of water globally and agriculture.

The constant speed and demand stress other environmental sectors such as biodiversity, land clearing, and soil quality. Also, overproduction and overconsumption lead to consumers’ disposal of clothes, hence massive textile waste.

b) Workers’ Exploitation

Fast fashion includes workers working in hazardous conditions for low wages without fundamental human rights. Within the supply chains, workers may work with toxic chemicals and brutal practices that devastate their mental and physical health. So there’s a human cost and the environmental cost of fast fashion.

c) Harming Animals

Fast fashion has also impacted animals. Toxic dyes and microfibers released in watercourses are ingested by land and marine life. Animal welfare is also put at risk when products like fur, leather, and wool are used in fashion directly.

d) Consumer Coercion

Fast fashion impacts consumers by encouraging a throw-away culture because of the products’ in-built obsolescence and the speed of emerging trends.

Fast fashion makes people believe they need to shop more to stay on top of trends. This creates a constant sense of need and ultimate dissatisfaction.

 Advantages of Fast Fashion

Advantages of fast fashion

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a) Fast Fashion Is Everywhere

Fast fashion is a global phenomenon. Consumers can shop new trendy clothes in high-street stores or on the internet. In addition, people enjoy buying affordable outfits inspired by runway shows.

b) Numerous Styles to Choose from

Fast fashion creates new styles weekly, if not daily. Fast fashion brands like Banana Republic quickly sketch, produce and distribute new outfits inspired by the latest trends.
The large variety of style choices is appealing to consumers. As a result, fashion designers and brands frequently partner with social media personalities to advertise their new collections.

c) Fast Fashion is Affordable

Fast fashion has enabled consumers to buy new trendy clothing at low prices. Moreover, they can afford trendy outfits regularly because they are cheaply made.
It accelerates supply chains and drives costs down to meet the continuously evolving consumer demands.

Fast fashion creates an impulsive shopping culture by driving the demand for designer items and trending clothes available for less money.

Final Thoughts

Aritzia, indeed is a fast fashion brand. From our brand check, we realize it has all the qualities of a fast fashion brand. Also, considering its sustainability initiatives, Aritzia is better than most fast fashion brands but is disadvantaged by its lack of transparency. Their prices might be higher, but their qualities and move towards being one of the sustainable brands are worth a second thought.

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jacky chou


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