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ASCM Insights

Fast Fashion Retailers Compete for Customers — and Resources


From bananas to soap to couches, global consumers love cheap goods. Whether it’s because of social media influencers, volatile economies or worrying inflation, shoppers are becoming more susceptible to trends and expect to spend less for them.

Clothing and shoes are some of the worst offenders. Fast fashion reportedly traces its history back to the 1990s, but with the rise of online retailers like Amazon, it’s more pervasive than ever. The Wall Street Journal reports this week that “two of the fastest-growing shopping platforms in the U.S,” Shein and Temu, “are fighting for suppliers and workers… to get cheap goods to win over thrift shoppers in the U.S. — their biggest market.” Temu, which launched in the U.S. last September, has soared in popularity; one shopper was surprised to find out that the site was even cheaper than Amazon, including a $10 sweater and a $15 jacket, Shen Lu writes for the Journal. Essentially, “the business model of selling inexpensive, made-in-China products to American consumers has potential.” Unfortunately, cheap goods — and the “take, make and waste” mindset — have a higher cost: their environmental impact.

But not all retailers are striving to bottom out on prices. H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo — all brands known for their inexpensive clothing — are trying to persuade their customers to repair their old clothes, instead of buying new ones. Journal reporter Trefor Moss explains that the fashion industry is attempting to “burnish its green credentials” amidst consumer pressures. “Repairing clothes rather than throwing them away reduces waste and means fewer resources are used to make replacements.”

Walmart, too, is exploring a new direction in its supply chain by producing affordable “garments made from captured carbon emissions,” Supply Chain Dive reports. The big box store is collaborating with the biotech startup Rubi Laboratories in an attempt to fulfill its sustainability aspirations of doing “more good, not just less harm.”

Keeping up with (supply chain) trends

Understanding the changing landscape of supply chain — whether it’s increasing sustainability or implementing new processes — doesn’t have to be a competition. Eliminating waste and pollution, one of the goals of the circular supply chain, is the right thing to do for the planet, but it also makes economic sense. And it’s up to companies to work together to make it happen.

One way to ensure that you’re keeping up with the trends in supply chain is by attending ASCM CONNECT 2023: North America this September. We’re thrilled to announce Yossi Sheffi, author and Director of MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, as a keynote speaker. He recently spoke with ASCM Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Rennie about opportunities to enhance supply chain careers using artificial intelligence, and at the conference he’ll give a special presentation on how human-AI collaboration is the future of supply chain.

But Sheffi isn’t the only draw: Get inspired by many other industry experts; build knowledge in every aspect of supply chain; and explore supply chain in action with guided tours of companies local to conference host Louisville, Kentucky. Register by this Friday (8/4 at midnight CT) and save $600 with the code CONNECTFLASH. This is one sale you don’t want to miss!

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at

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