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With the recent triumph of Shein, the Chinese ultra-fast-fashion behemoth, the search for the next great fast fashion company has begun.

For those who dont know what fast fashion is, inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Fast fashion describes low-cost designs that are quickly transferred from the catwalk to clothing stores. Years ago, there were four fashion 'trend seasons' per year, to coincide with the actual seasons. But nowadays, different trends are introduced much more often – sometimes two or three times per month. Fast fashion has an enormous environmental footprint for both its production and disposal. Clothing production requires a considerable amount of energy and resources, while it depends on toxic fabric dyes and other chemicals that contaminate fresh water. Fashion produces a tenth of the world's carbon emissions.

Cider, a Chinese firm that, like Shein, targets Gen-Z customers with $14 knit crop tops and $22 wide-legged patterned pants, received a $22 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz and DST Global last week. A.k.a. Businesses, the parent company of Princess Polly, said in February that it was looking to add more labels to its growing portfolio of digital fast fashion brands. Vision Knight Capital, a firm created by former Alibaba CEO Wei Zhe, invested $15 million in Cupshe, a fast-fashion swimsuit manufacturer, in March.

All of these start-ups, and many more like them, are designed to produce apparel for Western youth at a faster and lower cost than the current fast-fashion behemoths, much like Fashion Nova and Boohoo did to Zara and H&M in the 2010s.

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