Fast fashion, a fashion trend.
When we mention the concept of fast fashion, the outsiders to this industry immediately associate it with the so-called “fast food”. However, that easy association would make us fall into a reductionism that would prevent us from gaining in-depth knowledge about one of the most productive branches, with the highest growth rate in the textile industry worldwide.
What we know as fast fashion –whose torchbearers are large apparel chain stores of European and American origin—involves the mass-production of clothes, quickly and with a high rotation rate: 15 different collections a year chase after the “last minute” in world fashion trends yet their prices are materially lower than those of luxury brands.
The high turnover of merchandise in stores triggers in consumers an urge for immediacy in the purchase of clothes, accessories and footwear. But the counterpart to this maelstrom is the planned industrial engineering behind it: products are classified as basic and fashionable. Basic products, with classic or timeless style, are mass-produced in faraway countries since it is possible to more accurately predict the amount of items that will be sold at the stores. Fashionable products are made in closer production facilities and in smaller batches since it is not possible to predict how well they will sell.
Low cost and fast fashion, a fashionable relationship.
The low cost aspect of fast fashion also means that profit margins are reduced. Therefore, its main threat is rising costs, both in raw materials and labor or logistics. This represents a huge challenge for companies, which must be quick and dynamic to react to changing conditions. Those that are slow to react and recalculate will die on the vine.
And in order to redefine itself and recalculate, this branch of textile industry is always finding new destinations for the production of goods. Countries like China, a historical industrial hub by excellence, have lost part of its competitiveness in terms of costs due to substantial increase in labor and energy costs. This situation represented a huge opportunity for markets in South East Asia such as Vietnam, for example, where production costs are notoriously lower in comparison to the Asian Giant.
Fast fashion has one of its strongest detractors in the luxury market, who has historically pointed at it for imitating or copying famous designers. To partially counter this situation, several brands have developed capsule collections alongside important names of world design with excellent results.
Eco Fashion, the trend.
Similarly, corporations are putting an emphasis on ensuring adequate labor conditions for their suppliers as well as on respecting the regulations for environmental preservation. Although there is still a long way to go, there has been significant progress in the search for a fully responsible textile industry, a situation that is also demanded by consumers. Customers in all segments and around the world expect brands and textile companies to supervise the work and environmental conditions throughout their production chains.
As Sarah Jessica Parker said, “fashion is not a luxury, it’s a right”. Hopefully it will continue to be so.
Article originally published in Fashion Market.
Article published in American Retail