When thinking about fast food, we have been taught to see it as a bad habit that we need to avoid however people have not yet come to realize the impact that fast fashion has on design, and on designers themselves. Compared to the slow pace world of haute couture, there is a vast difference showing that the speedy world of mass production is unfortunately based on quantity over quality.
Fast fashion began in the late 1990’s when retailers started to manufacture clothing themselves, giving them the control of distribution and manufacturing. This strategy quickly moves catwalk looks into retail stores in the shortest amount of time for the cheapest price and allows stores to be at the forefront of trends as new products can be distributed within just a few weeks. Brands were looking to increase profits and saw fast fashion as the best opportunity as it decreases their financial outlay on forward orders and allowed them to react to the market quickly because decisions could be made much later in the season and still be produced in time to be on-trend.
Retail stores who love Fast Fashion
One of the main leaders in fast fashion is retail store, Zara who are known as the brand that shortened the lifecycle of fashion. Along with H&M and Forever 21, they are able to successfully mimic runway fashion and have the looks displayed in their stores in a time frame of two weeks, from sketches to store shelves. This process has resulted in buyers becoming accustomed to expect constant new styles and trends being moved in and out of the store, always at a low price.
When Zara’s first Australian store opened in 2011 in Sydney, followed by Melbourne two months later, 80% of the stock sold within three minutes making retailers extremely worried about losing business. However a few owners of stores including Witchery and Cue were not concerned, Rod Levis, owner of Cue says…
“Our clothes are more expensive than Zara’s, so we operate in a different market. We also react very quickly to fashion trends, but there’s no doubt Zara’s entry will keep many retailers on their toes. It is possible some of the smaller shops may be driven into a corner.”
Even with that confidence, stores did suffer and still continue to do so, as its extremely hard to compete with a store that is almost continuously changing trends, garments and accessories. Zara makes approximately 840 million garments a year and has 5900 shops in 85 countries, clearly leading the pack in the fast paced world of fashion.
They make thousands of copies of an item but spread the supply thinly across the stores and Zara also hardly ever advertise, they spend less than 0.5% of their revenue on advertising compared to a typical fashion retailer who will spend 20%-30%.
The above video gives a summary of how Zara is taking over the fashion industry