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What is Fast Fashion?

Tulika Nair
Do you follow fashion trends like they are rules engraved on stone? If you shop for ramp favorites as soon as they are declared the 'in thing' for the season, then you are already indulging in the retail trend known as fast fashion. We tell you more.
You switch on the television to see what is the latest trend according to the biggest fashion week of the year. You see some designs that you completely fall in love with and swear to own them as soon as they are available. The next time you walk into the mall, you see the exact design that you had your eyes on.
When you buy that dress, you are taking part in the retail trend known as 'fast fashion'. It is a term that fashion retailers use to define a trend in which clothes move from the ramps to stores in the fastest time possible in order to be able to capture the market. In this article, we tell you what fast fashion is and how it works.

Fast Fashion: An Overview

The easiest way to understand the concept of fast fashion is to actually think of it as having similarities to the concept of fast food. Think of a situation where you go to a fancy restaurant and are served a fancy dinner but after waiting for half an hour. Compare this to a visit to a fast food joint where you are served in a matter of minutes.
Fast fashion follows the same basic principle. Some of the top fashion brands come up with new designs based on ramp favorites in days, rather months, or after the end of every season. This is what sets fast fashion outlets apart from other designer fashion stores.
The fast fashion model developed sometime in the 1990s when stores like Zara started a fashion revolution. This type of fashion is also often associated with disposable fashion as the pricing of the clothing is much lower than would be expected and makes designer clothing available to the mass market. Other retail outlets that follow the same business model include H&M and Topshop.
So how do fast fashion outlets achieve this cost-effective model? Well, the retail outlet is so well-organized that they understand the demands of the target market and then cater to the specific demand.
It keeps prices to a minimum by joining hands with different foreign manufacturers who can produce the clothes at a cheaper rate. The process of design and manufacture is streamlined so that the design goes from on paper to the shop floor in less than two weeks.
Every design is a limited edition and is generally sold out in almost two weeks, which creates a sense of emergency in the customer to buy the product rather than missing out on the same. It is a fashion merchandising trick that tends to work very well in getting the customers to the shop. This trick also reduces the number of unsold stock left in warehouses. This is known as the quick response model.
Another factor that works in the favor of fast fashion are the high fashion designs that make up its core. Design ideas are generally copies of clothes off the ramp or copies of clothes that celebrities wear on the red carpet. Proper marketing is extremely important to fast fashion as this is what creates the need in the target audience.
When you promote fashion products as fast, inexpensive, and changeable, more people get interested in the products that are on display. With more fashion weeks and reducing time cycles, the gap between production and consumption has reduced drastically, therefore creating more buying seasons.
Critics have been predicting the death of fast fashion for sometime now calling it a hyped marketing tool that is responsible for shopaholism.
The share of fast fashion in the global market has increased manifold but in the recent past there has been some decline, with some of the major players in the fast fashion industry like Zara and H&M posting a fall in their profits in recent quarters.

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This fall has been attributed to the increased awareness about how these clothes are made, the conditions in which they are made, the reasons for their cost-effectiveness, and the effects of mass disposal.
While fast fashion allows you access to the best designs on the ramp and in a fraction of the time it would have taken earlier, does it really make sense to buy a fashion forward dress for the next weekend party when you paint the town red?