Quality vs quantity

LatAm consumers are torn between fast fashion and sustainability.

Levi’s “Buy better, wear longer” campaign comes as a response to an “over-production” crisis to promote more sustainable habits of fashion consumption. The initiative was born in opposition to the fast fashion concept which favoured a consumption pattern based on the acquisition of clothes to be worn during a specific season.

In Latin America, Levi’s regional executive said that the company is studying the implementation of a circular economy initiative in the region. Thus, in Brazil, all products are tested to reduce their carbon footprint while in Colombia, the company’s shops in Bogotá and Medellín have tailoring areas to patch, repair and adapt clothing.

A Peru-based fashion designer commented, “The Levi’s campaign has resonated in LatAm. There is a crisis of over-consumption in the region, especially in Brazil and Colombia where fast fashion has really taken over.”

A fashion industry executive in Chile believes more needs to be done, “The industry is changing but it is still driven by consumption. These initiatives need to be real, not just another marketing tool. The consumer is increasingly more aware and better educated and they are starting to value what brands do and don’t do for the environment.”

“The industry is changing but it is still driven by consumption. These initiatives need to be real, not just another marketing tool.”

Executive, fashion industry, Chile

The luxury fashion market in Latin America dropped 25% in 2020 due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is expected to recover by 10% in 2021 as many retailers have successfully implemented new e-commerce channels while appealing to local consumers.

Wealthy fashion consumers in Latin America value handmade and diverse items with local production. However, affordability is the main constraint for the development of slow fashion in the region. As the Peruvian fashion designer explained, “The reality is that the average ticket is smaller in Latin America, it is challenging to find a design with functionality, sustainability and the right cost to be competitive.”

“The reality is that the average ticket is smaller in Latin America, it is challenging to find a design with functionality, sustainability and the right cost to be competitive.”

Fashion designer, Peru

The “Free Fashion” project carried out by Repórter Brasil NGO argued that, despite economic restrictions, consumers should track the origins of their products and disregard clothing produced overseas. A spokesperson for Repórter Brasil claimed that the most sustainable clothes are those which “already exist” but admitted that it is very unlikely to see second-hand and clothes-swapping shops becoming an alternative in the fashion retail industry.

A fashion marketing executive concluded, “There is interest and belief in saving money and the environment by having a long-lasting garment. The challenge is to create a product that meets all the standards that works with Latin American consumers who like close-fits, strong colours and classic cuts.”

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