Fast Fashion: Trending Into Expansion


“Fast fashion isn’t going anywhere soon”, Kari Haminaka describes in her editorial for WWD, “Boohoo Sets Sights on US”. Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from the catwalk quickly in order to capture current fashion trends. The fast fashion collections are based on the most recent fashion trends that were presented at fashion week and seen in street trends and celebrities every spring and fall. Fast fashion is at an all time high right now in the fashion industry moving quickly, expanding in multiple locations and even going as far as to take over teen retailers. Fast fashion seeks for the bottom line and the bottom line only, making the trends come and go quickly and even including collections from high fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander Wang.

Fast fashion stores like Zara, Hennes & Mauritz, most commonly known as H&M, UNIQLO, whose new collaboration is with a former Hermes designer, and Forever21, are some of the top retailers in the market right now. H&M alone jumped 17% in profit in 2014 and plans to build 400 new stores just in 2015, after expanding another 392 in 2014 alone.
Zara is the top fast fashion retailer currently for rapid development in fast fashion. The company had sales of  $19.7 billion just last year beating out UNIQLO, which had $16.6 billion dollars. Although considered the top fast fashion retailer, Zara was beat out by H&M, in profit, which had the highest sales at $20.2 billion in sales for 2014.

According to Fortune, H&M is a fast-fashion purveyor that turns around trend designs quickly, taking away business from teen-focused retailers and other rivals that take a longer time to respond. This year alone teen-focused retailers such as DEB Shops and Delia’s, which have become “a dustbin in history ” according to Forbes. Body Central closed their doors after filing a federal bankruptcy. Wetseal closed 338 of their locations by January 7, 2015 because of “financial conditions” which really means they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. DOTS closed also because of bankruptcy, although they have new ownership and have managed to open 115 stores. The GAP decreased profits by 1.07% and Abercrombie & Fitch by 1.26% in 2014. H&M plans on a rise of another 15% in profit by December of 2015. Fast fashion retailers are taking over the industry one chain store at a time. Google also takes a huge role in fast fashion. According to Lisa Green, Google’s head of fashion and luxury team, states that “fast fashion companies… can take a trend identified through Google and run with it”. “They can say, ‘Google has identified this as a trend, and we have six weeks to get this out on the racks,’ ” she interview with The New York Times. 

“H&M is one of my favorite stores, I buy a lot all of my clothes there because I can rely on knowing I have the latest trends, without breaking my bank,” Diona Gills, a fashion merchandising student at Kent State University explains, “I love shopping at Zara also but, around here I can only shop online for Zara, I hope we get a Zara in the Akron/Cleveland area soon, that would be great!” Diona loves fast fashion, and as an employee at Victoria’s Secret also states how fast fashion is apart of their company. The PINK collection has one collection in on Monday and the following week there is another floor set for a different Collection; the same with the fashion colors of bras and panties. “ I explain to customers all the time that when they see a fashion color, which is anything other than black, white or nude, to buy it now. By the next time they come in, the color is gone and they are upset.”
Photo: DartMouthFashionCouncil
Forever 21 is home of the $1.80 camisoles. Also offering collections based on Barbie, ranging from $8.00 to $42.80, one of fashions top bloggers on Instagram, and a campaign featuring Iggy Azalea. H&M is home of the two for $10.00 basics. Offering tanks, camisoles (long and short), leggings, mini skirts and more mix and match for only $10.00. Although the quality may not be the best for the basics, H&M does offer great quality in their higher priced collection such as Alexander Wang X skirt for $100 and ankles boots at $175. Zara is higher priced than most of the fast fashion stores. Their sales consist of heels for $70, while a pairs of heels at Forever21 on sales are $14.20. 

Although there is plenty of speculation abut the workers over seas creating these trends at a rapid pace, “to their credit, H&M, Gap and Zara have all signed a pledge to improve factory conditions and Forever 21 had a vendor compliance and ethical sourcing program that includes factory visits,” states Forbes.

Fast fashion isn’t rocket science, but the secret behind it all is the ability to generate quick turnover of merchandise in the stores. The designs are shipped out rapidly and there is a small order of basics and very little reorder, if any. Retail consumers know that when they see something, they have to buy it then. The next time they shop the item will not be available. The online merchandise has a little bit of a longer shelf life than the in store but not by much. After runway shows, product is placed in fast fashion stores such as Zara and H&M in a very short time; the cause of this is designers start production early and design three or four new models daily, these designs are quickly looked at, accepted and put into production to be available as soon as possible.
Photo: OpinionatedFashionista

Fast fashion has become somewhat like social media. The Internet has made is so that a snap of the fingers reports and information is uploaded. Consumers know what is going on when it is happening. It had become a powerfully pleasurable and sometimes addictive activity that exists as a constant presence, just like a social media. This boils down to being a neurological reasoning behind the minds of consumers.

According to The Atlantic, “The researchers found that when they showed one of the study’s subjects a desirable object for sale, the pleasure center, or nucleus ambens, in the subject’s brain lit up. The more the person wanted the item, the more activity the fMRI detected.” Their research shows that the brain finds pleasure in the pursuit of inexpensive things, and high-street chains and online retailers sites alike are cashing in. And why wouldn’t they be, with fast fashion on the rise, they are in control of consumers.
Consumers are addicted to fast fashion for three main reasons; fast, affordable, and current. Consumers, men and women want trends now and they want them current. Being able to walk into a store shortly after fashion week and get products is the goal of consumers. Though, it has been proven this is a neurological desire, fast fashion retailers are taking advantage of the chance to shut down teen-focused chain stores. Consumers can also wear their favorite designers at a low cost fashion also considered masstige fashions. The profits are there and the are increasing as well as fast fashion which is giving consumers just what they want when they want it.

Signed Opinionated Fashionista