"WALANG forever?" It was all over the news last week. Clothing retailer "Forever 21" has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States. This move, usually done by a corporation or partnership, generally provides for reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. There is a similar law in the Philippines which is Republic Act 10142 called the Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act or FRIA.
Forever 21 operated about 800 stores globally, including more than 500 stores in the US According to reports, the company will close up to 178 stores in the US and plans to close most of its locations in Asia and Europe but will continue operating in Mexico and Latin America. I was at SM Clark last Sunday and went to the Forever 21 shop. It is still open.
Anyway, I am not a fashion guy nor a financial analyst, and certainly not a "Forever 21" loyal customer. I got interested in this story because I find the reasons behind the gradual collapse of the famous store interesting.
Some of the reasons behind the fall of Forever 21 is that young customers are losing interest in throw-away clothes and are more interested in buying eco-friendly products. They're also gravitating toward rental and online second-hand sites. This may be bad for Forever 21's business or other cloth retailers, but is certainly good for the environment. If this is the trend among the young, then there is hope for planet Earth.
The fashion industry has a big negative impact on the environment. It is said to be the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry. Although the industry disputes this tag. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said that the fashion industry, including the production of all clothes which people wear, contributes to around 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to its long supply chains and energy intensive production. The industry consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined.
Take a look at these figures: Nearly 20 percent of global waste water is produced by the fashion industry; cotton farming is responsible for 24 percent of insecticides and 11 percent of pesticides, despite using only three percent of the world's arable land; 20,000 liters is the amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton, equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans; it takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
There's also a disposal problem for discarded clothes. A US Environmental Protection Agency report said that 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded. Some of those probably ended up in our ukay-ukay stores.
This reported shift to eco-friendly shopping behavior among the young is a welcome development. The entire fashion industry should learn from the Forever 21 experience. "Walang forever" for those who will not follow the trend.
October 10, 2019
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