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Unveiling the Truth: Is Cider a Fast Fashion Brand?

Jack

Written by Jack Lin

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Is Cider Fast Fashion

Fast fashion has transformed the industry, making trendy clothes accessible and affordable. But critics argue this comes at a steep environmental and human cost. One newer entrant in this space is Cider, an online retailer targeting Gen Z with cheap, fashionable clothes. But is Cider just another fast fashion brand contributing to the problems of waste and worker exploitation? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Fast Fashion?

The Rise of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing that takes ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments sold in high street stores at breakneck speed. Over the past 15 years, fast fashion has upended the retail model. Historically, fashion brands produced 2-4 collections per year. Now, fast fashion brands like Zara produce 20+ collections per year and can get a new style from design to store in a matter of weeks.

Fast Fashion

This acceleration has fueled the overconsumption of clothing. The average person today buys 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago. And while prices have decreased, quality has declined as well, with garments lasting only a fraction as long.

Environmental and Social Impacts of Fast Fashion

But those cheap prices come with steep costs for the environment and garment workers:

  • The fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon emissions, more than international flights and shipping combined.
  • The industry is the second-largest consumer of water globally. Textile dyeing is the world’s second-largest polluter of water.
  • Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned.
  • The industry is plagued by unsafe working conditions, forced labor, low wages and exploitation of garment workers, most of whom are women in developing countries.

Fast fashion puts profits over the planet and people. So where does Cider fit into this landscape? Let’s examine.

Cider: A Closer Look

Cider’s Business Model and Target Market

Cider is an online fast fashion retailer founded in 2020. Targeting fashion-forward Gen Zers, Cider positions itself as a “globally conscious, socially driven” brand offering chic styles at low prices. Most items fall under $20.

Cider

To keep prices low, Cider partners with factories in Guangzhou, China and optimizes every part of the supply chain. Their “just-in-time” manufacturing model allows them to produce small batches of new styles and scale up production based on demand. As a D2C digital native brand, Cider stays nimble and eliminates costs like physical stores.

Cider has seen explosive growth, amassing over 4 million Instagram followers and $140 million in funding within its first 2 years. They drop 100+ new styles weekly and use social media to build hype. For more on how Cider stacks up against fast fashion giant SHEIN, check out our in-depth Cider vs SHEIN comparison.

Cider’s success speaks to the continued pull of fast fashion, especially for young digital natives. The brand employs many of the same tactics as competitors like SHEIN, including partnering with influencers. If you’re curious about what it takes to become a SHEIN brand ambassador, read our guide here.

Cider’s Production and Supply Chain

Like most fast fashion brands, Cider provides limited transparency into its supply chain and labor practices. Production takes place in partner factories in Guangzhou, which are not disclosed. There is no information on wages, working conditions, or labor rights for garment workers.

When reached for comment, Cider stated they require suppliers to follow a code of conduct prohibiting child/forced labor and protecting worker rights. However, the lack of transparency makes these claims difficult to verify. The opacity is concerning, as the Chinese garment industry has a track record of labor rights abuses.

Cider’s Sustainability Claims

Cider claims to be a more sustainable fast fashion alternative, as their data-driven model allows them to predict demand and minimize waste from overproduction. They’ve also released capsule collections using more sustainable materials like recycled polyester.

However, details are sparse on Cider’s overall environmental footprint including carbon emissions, water/chemical usage, and textile waste. Cider is not taking responsibility for the full lifecycle of its garments and their claims seem more like greenwashing than a true sustainable transformation.

Is Cider Really Fast Fashion?

Cider Shares Many Characteristics of Fast Fashion Brands

Based on our analysis, Cider clearly fits the fast fashion mold, characterized by:

  • Rapid speed from design to production to meet micro-trends
  • Low price points
  • Large scale production
  • Poor quality, disposable clothing not made to last
  • Frequent new collections and aggressive marketing to spur frequent, impulsive buying
  • Outsourced supply chain with little transparency
  • Prioritizing profits over environmental and social responsibility

Cider is following the standard fast fashion playbook of overproduction, overconsumption and aggressive pursuit of market share and profits.

Cider’s Sustainability Initiatives Fall Short

While Cider has taken some initial steps toward more sustainable materials and reducing overstock, these initiatives represent a small portion of their business and feel more like lip service than a true shift in their model. Fast fashion is fundamentally unsustainable and Cider has not changed the paradigm of constant consumption of disposable clothing.

Cider is neither a zero waste nor carbon neutral company. Details are lacking on plans to reduce their carbon footprint, convert entirely to sustainable materials, eliminate textile waste, or extend the life of garments. There is also no transparency into the treatment of their garment workers or wages paid.

Public Perception and Criticism of Cider

Cider has not escaped the growing public backlash against fast fashion brands. While Cider has a fanbase drawn to its accessible fashion and social media savvy, a growing chorus is highlighting the brand’s unsustainable and unethical practices. Cider has been criticized for things like:

  • Knocking off smaller designers and undercutting their prices
  • Greenwashing and lack of transparency on their sustainability claims
  • Perpetuating overconsumption and throwaway culture
  • Producing poor quality garments that quickly end up in landfills
  • Failing to pay garment workers a living wage
  • Using unsustainable, environmentally damaging materials and dyes
  • Deploying unethical marketing tactics like false scarcity to spur impulse buying

Critics argue Cider is just the latest incarnation of the broken fast fashion system and that their minor sustainability initiatives don’t go nearly far enough.

shopcider
Source: Shopcider / Instagram

How Cider Compares to Other Fast Fashion Brands

Similarities to SHEIN, Forever 21, and H&M

Cider is following closely in the footsteps of fellow fast fashion brands like SHEIN, Forever 21 and H&M. These brands share core similarities:

  • Large scale production of thousands of cheap, disposable styles
  • Rapid speed from design to shelf to capitalize on passing trends
  • Lack of transparency into supply chain and environmental footprint
  • Poor treatment of garment workers
  • Marketing that encourages impulsive, throwaway shopping behaviors
  • Minor sustainability initiatives that fail to address core issues

Like its predecessors, Cider is perpetuating an extractive model that takes a devastating toll on people and the planet. The brand does not represent a more sustainable path forward. For a deeper comparison, check out our analysis of Cider vs SHEIN.

Differences in Sustainability Efforts

That said, not all fast fashion brands are the same when it comes to sustainability. For example:

  • H&M has a major garment recycling program and aims to use 100% recycled or sustainable materials by 2030
  • UNIQLO has a relatively transparent, simple supply chain and aims to eliminate all single-use plastics
  • Zara has pledged to transition to 100% sustainable fabrics and zero landfill waste by 2025

While these initiatives don’t erase the damage done, they demonstrate more ambitious efforts to evolve the fast fashion model. Cider significantly lags behind on transparency and concrete sustainability goals.

It’s also worth noting that Cider is not alone among digital fast fashion brands facing scrutiny. In fact, our analysis found that Emmiol is also a fast fashion retailer with similar issues around sustainability and ethics.

Alternatives to Fast Fashion

The Growth of Sustainable and Ethical Fashion

Luckily for conscious consumers, the fashion landscape is changing. The global ethical fashion market is expected to grow by 6.8% annually, reaching $8.3 billion by 2025. Younger consumers are increasingly seeking out brands that align with their values:

  • 66% of millennials are willing to spend more on brands that are sustainable
  • 73% of Gen Z consumers would pay more for sustainably made products
  • 75% want brands to take responsibility and reduce waste

This shift in consumer expectations is fueling the growth of a new crop of sustainable and ethical fashion brands determined to do better for people and the planet.

Top Sustainable Fashion Brands to Consider

If you’re ready to break up with fast fashion, consider supporting these responsible brands:

Fast Fashion vs. Sustainable Fashion
Fast Fashion vs. Sustainable Fashion
  1. Everlane – Radically transparent about ethical factories, wages, and markups
  2. Reformation – Uses eco-friendly materials and offsets carbon emissions
  3. Patagonia – Certified B Corp using recycled materials and pushing political activism
  4. Eileen Fisher – Creates timeless, high-quality pieces from organic fibers
  5. thredUP – World’s largest fashion resale marketplace fueling the circular economy

These brands marry style and sustainability, using eco-friendly materials, paying living wages, embracing ethical sourcing, promoting garment recycling, and encouraging slower consumption of fewer, higher quality pieces.

Key Takeaways

  • Cider is a fast fashion brand that promotes overproduction and overconsumption of cheap, disposable clothing.
  • Cider provides little transparency into its supply chain, garment worker treatment, and environmental practices.
  • Cider’s sustainability initiatives barely scratch the surface and do not change its fundamentally extractive fast fashion model.
  • Cider lags behind other fast fashion brands making more robust commitments to sustainability and ethics.
  • Conscious consumers should consider supporting more responsible alternatives to fast fashion.

As consumers, we have the power to vote with our wallets for the kind of fashion industry we want to see. With so many stylish and sustainable options now available, we can look good while doing good too. Let’s start shifting the industry away from fast fashion and toward a slower, more ethical model that respects both people and the planet.

FAQ

Is Cider clothing good quality?

Cider clothing is typical of fast fashion garments – cheaply made using low quality materials. Items are not designed to last more than a few wears before wearing out or going out of style. For more on the customer experience, read real reviews in our exploration of is Cider legit.

Where are Cider clothes made?

Cider clothing is manufactured by partner factories in Guangzhou, China. Cider does not disclose the specific factories it works with.

How long does Cider take to ship?

Cider offers standard shipping which takes 6-8 business days to arrive after the order is placed. They also have expedited options for faster delivery.

Can you return Cider clothing?

Yes, Cider does allow returns. See our detailed guide to the Cider return policy for the full process, timelines and conditions.

Is Cider cheaper than SHEIN?

Cider and SHEIN offer comparably low prices on most items. A price comparison found on average Cider is 5-15% cheaper than SHEIN on similar items. Check out our full Cider vs SHEIN comparison for more details.

Does Cider use child labor?

Cider states that its supplier code of conduct prohibits child labor. However, there is no independent verification or transparent disclosure of factory audits, making it difficult to validate these claims.

Is Cider an ethical company?

Based on limited transparency into its supply chain and lack of concrete commitments to environmental sustainability and garment worker welfare, Cider does not meet most definitions of an ethical fashion brand. Its practices perpetuate the social and ecological harms endemic to the fast fashion model. For more analysis, see is Cider legit.

How is Cider impacting the environment?

Like most fast fashion brands, Cider has a significant environmental footprint including carbon emissions, water pollution, textile waste, and use of unsustainable materials. The exact impacts are unknown as Cider does not disclose environmental data.

What are some sustainable alternatives to Cider?

Consumers looking for more ethical fashion options should consider supporting sustainable brands like Everlane, Reformation, Patagonia, and Eileen Fisher, or buying secondhand from thredUP.

How can I tell if a fashion brand is truly sustainable?

Look for concrete commitments and progress reporting on things like:

  • Using sustainable and recycled materials
  • Offsetting carbon emissions
  • Guaranteeing living wages and safe conditions for workers
  • Eliminating hazardous chemicals and water pollution
  • Offering repair/recycling programs to extend garment life
  • Encouraging slower, more mindful consumption

The most responsible brands will provide detailed transparency into their practices and continuous improvement toward more sustainable and ethical fashion.

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