Fash fashion has been a phenomenon that became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as players like Zara and H&M took over the fashion industry by leveraging on shorter and shorter design-manufacturing-distribution cycles. Reducing these cycles from months to a few weeks. With just-in-time logistics and flagship stores in iconic places in the largest cities in the world, these brands offered cheap, fashionable clothes and a wide variety of designs.
Fast fashion players took over the industry around the late 1990s and the early 2000s; those players like Zara and H&M “innovated” in a few ways. The core strength of the fash fashion industry relied on the replication of trends from high-fashion designers. Thus turning these trends into clothes and making them readily available in most retail stores located in central, iconic places in the largest cities across the world.
Fast Following Fashion Trends
By quickly replicating designs, Zara initially didn’t innovate in these terms. Instead, it copied fashion trends. Therefore, it fast followed the existing trends created by high-fashion players. The key here was quickly turning these trends into clothes available in its stores.
Here being quick meant reducing the time it took to bring to manufacturing clothes, as previously it took months.
Shortened Manufacturing Cycles
Zara also had mastered quickly and cheaply manufacturing its clothes to achieve extreme speed by mass manufacturing them. Where competitors or existing players took six months to turn the design into clothes available at the store, Zara took this to another level, shortening the design-manufacturing cycle to as low as 2-4 weeks.
Mass distribution and logistics: Another key element of this strategy was making logistics a core competency of Zara. As these clothes could be easily made available in all its stores. By leveraging a “just-in-time” process, Zara distributed clothes across the stores from its central warehouses (perhaps in Spain), making the clothes available within 48 hours in any of the European stores.
Iconic, Flagship Stores
Flagship retails: Zara also invested in a marketing/distribution strategy where stores would be located in iconic and central places in the major cities across the globe. This is both a marketing and distribution strategy as the millions of tourists checking Zara’s store every day also could get comforted by the fact of finding Zara anywhere they were going (not that dissimilar to finding a MacDonald’s restaurant anywhere in the world). And this strategy of flagship stores also worked as a distribution strategy as its clothes could be easily made available to millions of consumers each day.
High turnover: Another key element of Zara’s strategy was the high turnover of clothes. In short, each week, fashion shoppers could find different styles of clothes, thus creating a sort of addicting shopping mechanism, where you could go shopping with more and more frequency.
- In the early 2000s, the fashion industry has been taken by storm by fast fashion players who mastered shorter cycles for manufacturing clothes by fast following fashion trends.
- Fast fashion players also mastered the process of cheap manufacturing of these clothes.
- They also distributed quickly across the iconic store located in the various major cities, drawing in millions of potential consumers each day.
From Fast Fashion To Real-Time Retail
As the 2010s brought many more people online across the world, the fast fashion phenomenon became even more rapid, thus giving rise to the ultra-fast fashion first, then to real-time retail.
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