The fashion industry has been evolving since the dawn of time.
However, mass media like TV and Cinema became the primary propellers for various fashion trends.
From luxury to fast fashion and more.
Audrey Hepburn’s 1961, Breakfast at Tiffany well epitomizes the acceleration of mass fashion trends.
By the 1980s the most prominent fashion brands had been born like Fendi (1925), Gucci (1921), Prada (1913), Chanel (1909), Burberry (1856), Louis Vuitton (1854), Hermès (1837).
Only a few brands, (like Prada) would escape consolidation and stay independent.
In the same span of time, a separate phenomenon emerged: Fast Fashion.
While Luxury brands targeted the higher end of the market, by emphasizing quality, uniqueness (or at least scarcity), and status. Fast fashion brands focused on the opposite side of the market. Focusing on speed, variety, and low prices.
Zara epitomized that evolution, as part of the Inditex empire:
By the 2010s the web had finally managed to scale to billions of people and a further penetration happened as smartphones equipped with shopping apps took over.
This enabled a transition from fast fashion (with a focus on speed, shortened manufacturing cycles, and effective logistics, and focused on operating flagship stores where items could be easily distributed) to ultra-fast fashion (where the focus on speed was achieved also thanks to an only-online presence, thus cutting operational costs, and focusing on shorter manufacturing cycles and global logistics).
On a parallel track, companies like Patagonia had been emphasizing much more on sustainability, thus building their brands on the premise of slow fashion.
While slow fashion took over, also another evolution of fast fashion made it to the masses: real-time retail.
Well exemplified by SHEIN, real-time retail brings the concept of fast fashion to another level. Where fashion trends are made and fast followed through digital channels, and also operations are primarily online and logistics global:
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