Sustainability refers to the development that caters to the needs of the existing generation without sacrificing: Sustainability Report, SU, Malaysia


Sunway University (SU)

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Sustainability refers to the development that caters to the needs of the existing generation without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Kotob, 2011). Sustainability in the business context refers to the ability to do business without negatively impacting the environment or society (Spiliakos, 2018).

Zara, H&M, and Shein fell into the fast fashion industry or sector. Fast fashion describes the production of low costs but trendy and stylish clothing that moves speedily from design warehouses to retail stores to cater to the trends, with new collections being introduced perpetually (Hayes, 2022), often produced in large quantities. Fast fashion brands are facing criticism regarding their sustainability concerns in the past years.

Below are some relevant sustainability concepts related to the fast fashion industry, especially Zara, H&M, and Shein:

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  • Sustainable fashion: As humans become more aware of the serious environmental impact of our clothes, businesses like Zara, H&M, and Shein started to focus more on sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion refers to the movement of trying to reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment through recycling, and repairs producing clothes that last. Sustainable fashion aims to reduce the fashion industry’s negative impact on the environment.
  • Ethical fashion: Ethical fashion is often used to describe the fashion industry that is used in a way that is fair to the workers, animals, and the environment.
  • Supply chain management: Supply chain management refers to the management of the flows of goods or services and includes the process of production, from raw materials to the final product, transportation of the raw materials and final products, and the distribution of the product.

These relevant sustainability concepts play a significant role in the fast-fashion industry. It is crucial to take these sustainability concepts into account while analyzing the methods used by Zara, H&M, and Shein. A better understanding can be achieved by investigating their supply chain management, production process, and the impact or influence that it has on the environment and society.

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One of the main sustainability issues correlated with the fast fashion industry is the mass environmental effect of the industry. The production process requires a remarkable number of resources including water, raw materials, chemical, and energy used.

Another sustainability issue is the social impact of the fast fashion industry. The fast fashion industry exploits local communities in low-income countries where labor laws and human rights protections are poor (Assoune, 2023).

Consumers are more aware of the impact of sustainability issues correlated with the fast fashion industry and start to demand accountability and transparency from these brands. Therefore, fast fashion retailers like Zara, H&M, and Shein have vowed to improve their environmental and social practices.

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