Bargain clothing chains like Primark, New Look and Peacocks may have to raise their prices to cope with a hike in the cost of cotton.
Many crops across Asia have been destroyed by floods, resulting in cotton prices rising to their highest level for 15 years – and 50% more than they were this time last year.
Predicting the end of disposable fashion, Cosmopolitan’s fashion editor Shelly Vella told Sky News: “The headache will definitely be bigger for the lower price pointed stores on the high street – they’re the ones that see a mass of products going out their doors every day.
“For someone like Burberry, or other designer brands, it’s an individual piece or bags or perfume or accessories – and the type of people who can afford to buy into those brands have that money.”
Clothing inflation is expected to rise to 4.4% in the UK this year – the highest level for 24 years – but not everyone thinks that is a bad thing.
Ethical fashion designer Orsula De Castro said: “At the moment, you’ve got five quid in your pocket and that translates to a pair of jeans.
“For me, inevitably this bubble was always going to burst. The consumer will finally be asking ‘why was it so cheap in the first place?'”
After 10 years of sharp deflation in clothing prices, it is possible this spike could be just a brief interruption.
Richard Dodd, from the British Retail Consortium, said: “There’s nothing historic or unique going on here – we’re not at some kind of distinctive permanent turning point.
“Yes we’re seeing a bit of upward pressure on the price of cotton and that may influence the price of clothing in the shops, but essentially clothing is dramatically cheaper now than it ever has been.”