TOPIC: fashion
Issue 21
March 31, 2019
Kylie Jenner

Forbes Magazine posits that, at 21 years of age Kylie Jenner is the youngest “self-made billionaire ever,” effectively besting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who previously held the record; Zuckerberg made his first billion by the age of 23 in 2006. A few months prior to Forbes' most recent feature, Ms. Jenner graced the cover of a previous issue for being the “youngest self-made almost-billionaire, with a net worth of $900 million.” There is no question that Kylie Jenner is an extremely successful entrepreneur. We applaud her success, but take issue with Forbes' assertion that she is “self-made.” To draw such a conclusion is laughable, egregious and even irresponsible.

We credit Ms. Jenner for leveraging her ~175 million social media followers (this includes over 100 million followers on Instagram alone) to build a formidable cosmetics empire. Kylie Cosmetics generated an impressive $360 million in revenues in 2018 via the sales of lip kits, eyeshadows, eyeliners and more to her fan base. Jenner’s latest business extension involves a partnership with the popular cosmetics retailer, Ulta Beauty, which will mark her first foray into the brick and mortar retail space.

A GQ profile on the young entrepreneur highlighted that,“it's important to remember that Kylie's cosmetics business was built by grinding. It started with her consistent assault on social media.” Indeed, achieving a critical mass of followers is paramount when building a brand online (take it from us, we know!). The significant difference between Kylie Jenner and most other young entrepreneurs looking to utilize social media is that Ms. Jenner’s foundation had already been laid, so building the house that encompassed her empire was considerably easier. At The Quintessential Centrist, we do not discount the hard work Ms. Jenner clearly has devoted to her business. However, we do think it is important for young budding online businesspersons, to understand and appreciate the following: Scale is imperative when leveraging social media to build a profitable brand. In fact, Ms. Jenner herself alluded to the importance of scale, telling Forbes, "it’s the power of social media…I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything.”

Issue 44
September 29, 2019
Fast Fashion Fails To Look In The Mirror

“The primary objective of fast fashion is to quickly produce a product in a cost-efficient manner to respond to fast-changing consumer tastes in as near real time as possible.”

Fast fashion emerged in the 1980s as a way to deliver high-end designer styles quickly and inexpensively to the mass consumer who could not necessarily afford couture. With fast fashion trumping even the traditional "ready to wear" or, prêt-à-porter, aspiration no longer equated to sheer hopefulness, it could become reality without breaking the bank. Fast fashion plus the emergence of social media influencers, combined with immediate online access to apparel have proven to be a potent combination; since the 1980s consumption of clothing and accessories has grown exponentially.

The downside to the plethora of fashionable but cheap garments made possible by fast fashion leaders Zara (owned by the innovative Spanish firm Inditex), H&M, C&A, and others are abysmal working conditions for the textile workers who stitch the garments and massive degradation to the environment. The irony of fast fashion is that many of the trend setting consumers who represent a large component of the demand for stylish cheap clothing, are the same people who fight for “social justice” and claim to be stewards of the environment.

Think About This The Next Time You Buy A Cheap T-Shirt In 5 Different Colors

The global fashion industry accounts for ~2% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Zara alone can “manufacture over 30,000 units of product every year to nearly 1,600 stores in 58 countries." In a 2015 documentary titled "The True Cost", Director Andrew Morgan travels globally to delve deeper into the provenance of our clothing, the impact on the environment and human rights. According to the documentary’s website, 97% of our clothing is manufactured overseas while global consumption of clothing runs at 80 billion pieces.

After the oil and gas (O&G) industry, the fashion industry is the greatest contributor to environmental degradation. It takes “up to 200 tons of fresh water per ton of dyed fabric and 20,000 liters of water to produce just 1 kg of cotton.” The World Resource Institute notes that it requires 2,700 liters of water to manufacture one shirt, which equals enough drinking water for the average person for ~2.5 years. This statistic is even more jarring when coupled with the fact that close to 800 million people – over 10% of the world’s population - do not have access to safe drinking water.”