Kim Kardashian West was quick to call out fast fashion this week.
The world-famous fashionista rocked a vintage 1998 Thierry Mugler at the Hollywood Beauty Awards on Sunday evening. Within 24 hours, Fashion Nova, a fast fashion company, posted an exact replica of it for sale on its Instagram account. Kardashian West felt the company had crossed a line, and logged on to Twitter to let them know.
Fast fashion survives off of quickly passing fashion trends. Companies adopting the process try to keep prices as low as possible because the demand for new styles is rapidly changing, resulting in cheaply made, almost disposable items. The practice is responsible for creating large amounts of waste which harms the environment and supports the unethical treatment of factory workers in developing nations.
It’s devastating to see these fashion companies rip off designs that have taken the blood, sweat and tears of true designers who have put their all into their own original ideas.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) February 19, 2019
“It’s devastating to see these fashion companies rip off designs that have taken the blood, sweat and tears of true designers who have put their all into their own original ideas,” she wrote in her first tweet. In a second, she added, “I’ve watched these companies profit off my husband’s work for years and now that it’s also affecting designers who have been so generous to give me access to their beautiful works, I can no longer sit silent.”
Kardashian West knows what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Between a makeup line, a fragrance line and several clothing lines for women and children, she has ramped up her net worth to $350 million. And her experience makes her no stranger to the inner workings of the fashion industry, where she has a lot of experience forging partnerships with companies.
But she says she has no such relationship with Fashion Nova, and accused them of using her name to boost their profile. She tweeted, “This is a way to get people to sign up for their mailing list and make people believe there is some kind of relationship between me and this fashion site. There is not.”
In response to the backlash, Fashion Nova tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that they simply operate on a business model that offers fair pricing on leading trends, and refuted Kardashian West’s claims that they had never worked together.
It is possible for consumers to purchase uniquely designed clothing at fair prices that neither harms the environment nor uses the influence of fashion icons without their direct permission, and treats factory workers humanely. And several of the women entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed are making it their mission to prove that.
Samantha Martin is one such entrepreneur. Her e-commerce startup, Agathos Athleisure, promotes eco-conscious fashion brands. The Nashville-based business owner was driven to launch her company after learning about the toll the fashion industry’s waste takes on the environment.
Australian entrepreneur Lauren Bonnet knows where Martin is coming from. Her deep frustration with the fast-fashion industry motivated her to create a not-for-profit ethical fashion social enterprise, From Found. She was fed up with fast fashion’s negative impact on supply-chain employees — not to mention the industry’s harmful effects on the environment.
And in Phoenix, three sisters launched My Sister’s Closet in part to keep quickly sold (and quickly discarded) clothing out of landfills. It’s now a $25 million business.
Fast fashion has been challenged by entrepreneurs on environmental and economical levels. Now, in this case with Kardashian West, its relationships with the fashion industry are also being challenged. Perhaps with such a high-profile scolding, the game will change even more.