They bring new and trending styles to the market faster and cheaper, whether the inspiration comes from the catwalks of fashion weeks or celebrity magazines.
The creation, marketing and selling of these garments has become big business for high-street retailers and is putting established fashion brands under a lot of pressure as they struggle to keep pace with the quickly changing demand.
So how are businesses able to take advantage of this trend? Read on to find out, and for more on this topic check out Econsultancy’s report on Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing.
While traditional brands follow the annual seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter and require up to nine months from the design stage to the sales floor, fast fashion brands have compressed these cycles into a couple of weeks.
‘Rapid fashion’ companies like Boohoo.com claim to be even faster, stating that they design, manufacture and start selling a celebrity-inspired outfit in just a few days.
While traditional retailers have looked to Asia for cost-effective product creation, many of the fast fashion brands are increasingly manufacturing within close proximity to their headquarters.
For example, the Guardian reports that over half of Boohoo.com and Missguided’s stock is being produced in the UK, and Zara has retained a substantial part of its production in its native Spain.
This makes it easy to get new items made and in the hands of consumers as quickly as possible.
Marketing is far and away the key driver for fast fashion – and again speed is key.
Marketers must create the desire for these new designs close to the time of creation in order to bring it to market as quickly as possible.
Many fast fashion brands are seeing the best returns on image-based social platforms, such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, where celebrities as well as millenials post pictures of their latest purchases.
By continuously and quickly releasing new products, these brands are also able to drive consistent traffic and engagement with their website throughout the year as customers visit the site more regularly to make sure they don’t miss out on the latest styles.
Missguided’s founder and CEO Nitin Passi plans to capitalise on the fast in fast fashion by updating its website every hour with new items instead of only once per day.
Last, but by no means least, is the ability of fast fashion retailers to test small batches of fashion items in their stores and online and then quickly produce more if the goods are selling well.
Thanks to their highly responsive supply chain, these brands are able to deliver new fashions as soon as a trend emerges while established brands will be unable to respond quickly to a sudden rise in popularity of a certain colour or shape.
Because fast fashion retailers don’t order in the same volumes as many traditional businesses, opting instead to increase batches on products that sell well, they don’t have piles of unsold clothes to get rid of.
This means less need to discount. It also increases the urgency for the customer to visit frequently to get their hands on the latest fashionable items.
Studies found that customers are visiting Zara stores an average of 17 times per year, compared to only four to five at the Gap – we can only imagine what the difference online could be!
A number of traditional high-street brands are beginning to baulk at this speedier trend for disposable fashions, opting instead to market their products as ‘long-lasting’ and staples of any wardrobe.
But with the Gap, possibly one of the most established fashion retailers on the high street, recently announcing its own trial of fast fashion, it looks like the ability to create new designs and bring them to market quickly is a trend that is going to stay.
By speeding up the process of creating, marketing and selling garments, retailers will do more than just become faster, they will also help their bottom line by streamlining each of the three key areas of their business.
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