In part one of this blog series, we covered what fast fashion is; how the industry has impacted the planet, the international labor market, and the overall fashion industry itself; and finally, fast fashion’s unique evolution toward improved business practices and use of tech.
In Part Two, we’ll address why fast fashion will always remain its own sector, distinct from the luxury fashion market, as well as how garment and shoe brands outside of it might successfully compete against fast fashion’s burgeoning start ups and dominant mega brands. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Fast Fashion vs. Luxury Fashion
Fast fashion appeals to customers for two primary reasons:
- Its cost
- Its trendiness
Gen Z is growing in buying power, and despite their oft cited concerns on sustainability and conscientious consumerism, they are still the demographic most likely to purchase fast fashion apparel. Researchers call this the “Fast Fashion Paradox”. They attribute the phenomenon to the above two factors, as well as to fashion brand greenwashing, which has become a persistent problem in the industry.
However despite this, in recent years, Gen Z and millennials in particular have increased their margin of luxury apparel goods purchased year to year. Fast fashion has staying power, but so does the luxury sector. The reasons why are four-fold:
- The debut of phased payment apps like Klarna (which can even now be used by fashion brands to balance the cost of garment, shoe, and fashion accessory production)
- The value derived from the time it takes to produce luxury fashion
- The value of the labor required to assemble luxury apparel
- The limited collection value intrinsic to luxury fashion
For these reasons, despite the rising trend of fast and luxury fashion brand collaborations like those between Balmain and H&M, luxury fashion will continue to reign the industry as the ultimate trend setter.
Learn more about what’s keeping luxury fashion competitive in a commercial landscape curated around fast fashion’s model and how luxury-fast fashion collaborations can benefit or harm brands in this featured read:
How Growing Apparel Brands Can Compete with Fast Fashion Mega Labels
As successful as fast fashion has been since it took off in the 1990s, the strategy carries a number of drawbacks and risks – particularly for newer or growing apparel brands (see part one of this blog series for a reminder). Entering this market is an incredible challenge for brands that don’t already have a strong following and enough sourcing, supply chain, and talent support to make the transition seamless. Aside from sourcing garments wholesale or with significant investor backing, there’s almost no way for newer brands to adopt the fast fashion strategy successfully.
However, that presents growing fashion brands with incredible opportunities to differentiate themselves outside of fast fashion. This featured read goes into four steps for how they can do that effectively:
One strategy this blog touches on is differentiating your fashion brand by differentiating your products. This is one of the most critical parts of successful private labeling. Learn more about it in What to Know About Designing Clothes For a Niche Fashion Market, then, dive into Fashion Trend Forecasting 101: What It Is & How to Do It to learn more about the recommended second step, long-term trend forecasting.
The Next Chapter of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion isn’t going anywhere any time soon. However, without some careful reorganization and planning, it will continue to push the planet and the labor market toward some very challenging realities.
Slow fashion made with longevity of wear in mind is truly the best, most sustainable, and eco-friendly option that today’s fashion consumer has available to them. Hopefully, fashion brands and designers will meet the market’s desire for sustainable fashion with unique, responsibly sourced, well-made garments that take fashion seasons in stride rather than at breakneck speed.