Fast Fashion in Nowadays and Future
The term “fast fashion” means the emergence in the market of clothes the exact copies of known trends which have just been presented on fashion shows. In other words, fast fashion is spread-around design ideas. The designers of the Spanish brand Zara, who became very popular in the USA, Japan, and Europe became the first who started using this strategy. After Zara, there were also other European brands, for example, H&M and Primark, and this resulted in the fast fashion to become the most progressive fashion in the world. The important point of new fashion strategy is a continuous change of image proceeding from the fashionable directions. Rather low cost of such things allows women of fashion often “to update their clothes without a special loss for a purse” (Fenner 2011).
The research objectives are to find out what young customers look for in shops, the name of the fast fashion brand, in the shops of which the customers prefer to make purchases, the reasons why fast fashion shops become more and more popular among the customers worldwide, what types of clothes the customers expect to find in fast fashion shops.
The methods of research are a focus group and a questionnaire. 4 people of a focus-group were asked some questions concerning the above-mentioned problems and about 30 people were given questionnaires to be filled up. Their answers were processed, and on the basis of the examined literature on the topic and on the questionnaire results the following conclusions were made.
Young customers, sometimes even wealthy people, prefer a cheaper variant of clothes, which is of no less quality than European brands. For this reason, the welfare of fashion houses started worsening and the fast fashion industry continue to develop quickly.
One of the most popular fast fashion brands, the first Spanish retail chain Zara, opened in 1975; now it has shops almost in all developed countries of the world. This brand delivers a new model to the shops within two weeks, and other brands do this for half a year, that is why it attracts thousands of customers worldwide. During a year, 400 professional fashion designers create more than 10 thousand unique models (Fenner 2011).
Designers of Zara show a great responsibility for their goods, so annually they create more than forty thousand samples of clothes and footwear, from which only a quarter starts to be produced. Some of them represent the simplified copies of clothes of expensive design brands. In the fight against the leading fashion houses, Zara wins at the expense of using cheaper fabrics and selling the goods at lower prices. As the majority of models of clothes and footwear arrive in five or six colors and five or seven sizes, the logistic system of Zara is compelled to cope approximately with 300 thousand commodity and warehouse parties annually (Menkes 2008).
More than half of Zara factories, where clothes and footwear are sewed, are located in Europe, where labor is not so cheap. The company is compelled to reduce transportation time to a minimum “for fast updating of goods on shelves of the shops” (Hines 2004). Fast turns allow avoiding problems with “failures” in fashion. Thanks to the fact that goods are issued in limited parties, even those which are badly sold (as there was in the unexpectedly warm fall in 2003) do not yield the company serious losses.
In Zara, shops with new goods appear every week. However, there are usually not many of them: only some copies of one model. The reason is not in the fact that Zara shops are small (on the average – about one thousand square meters). It is just necessary to force the client to buy a thing. “The buyer thinks: this blue shirt suits me and there is only one such thing in this shop. If I do not buy it today, I will not be able to get it tomorrow. The customer does purchase immediately” – said Johnathan Selva, the manager of one of the three shops Zara on the London Oxford Street (Hines and Bruce 2001). So, the most popular goods can appear and disappear within a week, thereby the feeling of deficiency is created in the buyers. “The fast turn seriously changes the relation of people to shopping. If earlier many people went shopping to the clothes stores once or twice a month, now they come there every week, knowing that on shelves there can be novelties which do not usually lie there long. It helps to support a high sales level and to avoid sales which reduce profit” – Chris Miller, the trade analyst of the consulting company Bain&Co says (Hines and Bruce 2001).
In 1964, a brand of clothes for youth TopShop was created in London. In the 1990’s, this brand was considered absolutely irrelevant, but thanks to Sir Philippe Green’s management it became popular again. The cooperation with the famous model Kate Moss and the fashion designer McCartney Stele brought success to this brand. The collections of this brand participated in displays of the London fashion week, and their boutique in London is considered the biggest in the world.
In 1947, the Swedish retail chain H&M was founded. The bargaining chip of the company is capsular collections, which are bought up by women of fashion in a few minutes. Over the last 5 years, H&M has cooperated with many well-known designers.
The American company of inexpensive clothes was created by GAP in 1969. At first, they traded with jeans clothes; however, by the end of the 1970’s, GAP had become one of the most popular brands of street fashion.
The Russian brands today are “A May Day dawn”, O’stin, Savage, Oggi, which have already found their admirers across all Russia.
The sales of the Spanish company Inditex, which possesses shops under the brands of Zara, Bershka, and Massimo Dutti, have grown in the first quarter of this year by 22% (Menkes 2008). The sales of the Swedish group Hennes&Mauritz (H&M brand) have grown by 20% (Menkes 2008). So fast growth rates, about which the companies reported, are surprising for the stagnating European market of clothes: since 2000 the average increase in sales volume makes only 2-2,5% a year (Menkes 2008). The secret of success of these two firms is simple: they actively work in a so-called segment of “fast fashion”, growing on the average by 15-17% a year (Menkes 2008).
This type of business is aimed at a fast turn – clothes are released by small parties and reduction of sales at a discount. It actively develops in Europe, where consumers traditionally more follow fashion than, for example, in North America. In the European Union, 15% of the whole market of clothes have already been the share of fast fashion, and its share is constantly increasing (Menkes 2008).
The segment of fast fashion became a real rescue for the European producers of clothes and footwear. Their competitors are India and China, where there is enough cheap labor; however, unfortunately, they do not keep pace with fashion. Transportation of goods from these countries to Europe takes too much time – about two months. Such companies as Zara or H&M cannot wait so long; therefore, they place their orders closer to shops: about half of the whole production of fast fashion is issued in the European Union, and the other part is situated in close proximity (from Morocco to Turkey and Ukraine).
H&M uses another strategy: about a quarter of goods of the company are fast fashion clothes and footwear created by the designers of the company, and independent producers make them. Like in Zara, these goods quickly pass through shops, and their place is taken by newer models. However, H&M offers a wide range of simple goods, which are less subject to “whims of fashion”, which are generally made in Asia with its cheap labor (Siegle 2006). Besides, the Swedish company regularly involves famous fashion designers for creation of small collections released in limited parties (in recent years, the collections for H&M were created by Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney). Thanks to these collections, the company has a possibility to create a consumer agiotage and to attract buyers – as a result, clothes are completely sold within several days. The combination of these three components within one strategy allows H&M to increase sales for 15-20% a year (Tsan-Ming Choi 2012).
The companies working in a segment of fast fashion develop very dynamically. So, in 2005, Inditex opened 448 new shops under the brands of Zara, Massimo Dutti, and Bershka, and H&M – 145 shops. This year the Spanish company intends to open 490 shops. By 2015, the number of Inditex shops can grow from the present 2,7 thousand to 5 thousand (Tsan-Ming Choi 2012). So, the companies working in a segment of fast fashion, such as H&M and Inditex, or the British Mango and Top Shop, remake the European market of clothes. According to Bain&Co company forecasts, by 2015 the share of the fast fashion segment can grow from the present 13% to minimum 25% (Tsan-Ming Choi 2012).
“Nowadays, about 40% of clothes and footwear are bought up on sales at reduced prices. This indicator reaches 80% at more expensive design brands. However, clothes and footwear are on sale very quickly in the fast fashion market – it reduces the need to use sales as an important mechanism of sales promotion. In this segment only 19 % of goods are on sale at reduced prices that allows to increase profit and to increase a share in the market” – the director of the consulting company TNSFashionTrack, Fiona Bell, says. So, Inditex’s profit last year grew by 26%, it was even more than sales and made 973 million dollars.
The companies working in fast fashion appeared to be a real rescue for the light industry of the European countries: because of the interest in the maximum speed of production and clothes and footwear delivery, they place orders at factories closer to the shops. The time of delivery of goods to London or Paris from Spain is only two-three days, from Poland – four days, from Bulgaria – six days, from Turkey or Lebanon – two weeks – a maximum with which fast fashion segment works, whereas the delivery of goods from Asia may take about seven-eight weeks.
The focus-group, consisting of four people, helped me greatly to examine the topic “Fast Fashion”, researched by me. The focus-group gave me information about the investigated questions. All the participants showed a great interest in buying clothes in fast fashion shops, willingly shared their ideas and thoughts.
According to the answers of the focus-group and the answers to the questionnaire the following conclusions were made: the European market of clothes stagnates and the only one segment is growing – fast fashion. This happens because it gives the chance to quickly update and renew clothes, and the textile industry is rescued from the competition with China; there is a great many of such shops in big cites everywhere, which give an opportunity to reach them quickly; the clothes in fast fashion shops are not mass produced and they are in fashion; there is always a good service in such shops. The fast fashion is actively mastering new platforms of trade (online), and thus keeping a complete control over all the operations. Besides, thanks to the investments in logistics, the companies expand promptly the markets of the production consumption.
- Ruslana Chervyakova, 21 years old, a student, Moscow.
- 1. What do you look for in the fast fashion shops? Ruslana says: – I look for mostly clothes which are of high quality.
- 2. What is the name of the fast fashion brand where you usually make purchases? Ruslana says: – Zara. The shop is situated close to the university where I am studying, so it is very convenient to go shopping once or twice a week or to buy goods on sales.
- 3. Why do you think fast fashion shops become more and more popular in the world? Ruslana says: – Clothes in these shops are not very expensive and they are not mass produced, so, it is almost impossible to find the same blouse in another woman.
- 4. What types of clothes do you expect to find in fast fashion shops? Ruslana says: I expect to find dresses, blouses, skirts and other women’s clothes. It would be nice to find jewelleries or something like that there, too.
Alina Dyadchenko, 23 years old, a cashier, Ukraine, Kiev.
- 1. What do you look for in the fast fashion shops? Alina says: – I look for not very expensive clothes which are still in fashion.
- 2. What is the name of the fast fashion brand where you usually make purchases? Alina says: – Mango.
- 3. Why do you think fast fashion shops become more and more popular in the world? Alina says: – The shops are situated everywhere, in the centres of the cities, so they are easy to find and to go to.
- 4. What types of clothes do you expect to find in fast fashion shops? Alina says: I expect to find fashionable clothes: jeans, trousers, tops, shirts.
Maria Parasochka, 25 years old, a teacher, Russia, Moscow.
- 1. What do you look for in the fast fashion shops? Maria says: – I simply enjoy shopping and I get very pleased when I can spend my weekend purchasing. I find fast fashion shops to be the places I can attend every day and I can find always something new in them.
- 2. What is the name of the fast fashion brand where you usually make purchases? Maria says: – Zara.
- 3. Why do you think fast fashion shops become more and more popular in the world? Maria says: – The range of goods there is often renewed and this fact makes you go there more and more often.
- 4. What types of clothes do you expect to find in fast fashion shops? Maria says: I expect to find Tights and stockings together with shorts, dresses and trousers.
Fiona Melnick, 28 years old, a housewife, Moscow.
- 1. What do you look for in the fast fashion shops? Fiona says: – I try to find the clothes which suit me and which are not too expensive.
- 2. What is the name of the fast fashion brand where you usually make purchases? Fiona says: – Zara.
- 3. Why do you think fast fashion shops become more and more popular in the world? Fiona says: – Women like to make purchases there. There are many such shops in big cities everywhere.
- 4. What types of clothes do you expect to find in fast fashion shops? Fiona says: I expect to find there warm clothes, such as coats, fur-coats, raincoats, sweaters, pullovers, etc.