Even faster fashion and its impact

An article in BBC.com (September 8, 2016) titled “Designers aim for even faster fashion” describes the option of ordering items shown on the runway as a new fashion trend offered by Burberry, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger. This approach drops the role of fashion magazines and trend forecasters and rushes product directly to the customers. But other industry observers claim that this is the result of competitive pressure on fashion designers caused by H&M and Zara and online fashion companies like boohoo.com. Is there a downside to this rush to get the runway apparel to the customer without the discussion that might cause an adjustment to the fashion?  Will the feedback from the early adopters impact overall sales significantly, and, if so, might there be a benefit to delay satisfaction of their demand ?

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17 Responses to Even faster fashion and its impact

  1. Christine Rasquinha says:

    The fashion industry has a very short product life cycle. From the conception to runway, the company is able to acquire feedback from multiple individuals. However, if the company is forced to rush the apparel to the customer, before making adjustments, it could result in a loss of sales because customers may not find the product quite right. If the company does launch the product quickly, it may be able to gather a few more additional sales over a short time period. The problem is that these few sales could create a bad brand image for these brands because the designs are not adapted to fit individuals who are a part of the “Regular” society.

  2. Sarinah says:

    There is an appeal to have the consumer’s demand for runway designs in their hands, the faster they receive it, the faster companies get sales and purchases. The downside to a faster fashion supply chain is that this affects the “textile waste”. In an online article by National Public Radio, when fashion becomes fast and cheap, it damages the environment because these clothes were designed not to last long. With this in mind, companies must not only look at the short-term profit gain but the long-term environmental impact that affects their corporate social image.

  3. Shashank Chinnolla says:

    Now a days with the burst in the use of social media or other online platforms, the customer is all about NOW. There are many customers who are willing to pay a higher price for a shorter lead time. By attracting these customers, the brands can effectively use them to promote their clothes line and also make up for the higher price for the shorter lead time. By engaging the early adopters in the actual product, the brands will also become first to the market and capitalize on the growth curve. I wouldn’t be surprised if brands start offering the products for sale right after the ramp walk. The challenge in this case would be demand prediction and willingness to pay for these early adopters. Also by analyzing the purchase pattern of this kind of sale, the brands would also have a better idea of the overall market size giving them an edge over competitors and not having to wait till the clothes line hits the stores.

  4. Adam Davis says:

    The rushing of product directly to customers seems to be in line with the trend of greater democratization in many industries: not only avoiding the middleman, but also doing away with the so-called industry experts. No longer can the fashion magazines and forecasters be the gatekeepers who determine which styles are accepted and discarded. While it seems worthwhile to have these industry mavens test the waters before shipping out product, greater consumer demands will eventually make it impossible for them to have the first say.

  5. Murilo Siqueira says:

    Although a good alternative for the early adopters, companies would incur much higher production costs from line flexibility.
    Textile industry is a very low margin business, and the way companies increase profits is by economics of scale. If one has to have a 100% flexible line, to work in a JIT method and provide trends as soon as they are released, production costs for all the products would increase by a lot.
    Thinking that early adopters and fashion addicts represent a small share of the market, all other customers would be worse off by seeing price increases for them, and this could result in an overall loss for the entire chain.

  6. Eric Zheng says:

    The “even faster fashion” definitely fulfills the demand of early adopters, and may have fashion suppliers to take a lead and enjoy their first-mover advantage. However, shorter time for data collection by skipping fashion magazines and trend forecasts can add on to the already high forecast error, especially since feedback from early adopters can be somewhat biased considering their innate preference. Customers to adopt a new design immediately tend have a fashion taste on the cutting edge that may not fit that of the majority of customers, resulting in inaccurate or exaggerated feedback to suppliers. Thus, this particular business model may fit high-end fashion brands a lot better than those aiming at mass production.

  7. Jutong Cui says:

    The quick response and customer pulling supply system of ZARA bring lots of competition to the apparel industry. Compared with the vertically integrated capability of ZARA, its competitors have to try to start the manufacture much earlier. The best way is to follow the trend of an early runway with some adjustment. Those adjustments may come from industry experts, not necessarily come from the early adopters. The downside may be higher forecasting errors but the gain is to lead the market. Rushing experimental small batches production to customers in advance may help to direct the market and get early feedbacks. If a brand can create popular series, lots of customers would be willing to bear a longer lead time to get that.

  8. Xin Wen says:

    Rushing products directly to customers after the fashion show, the company could definitely increase the sales, however, the company should do the forecast by themselves before the fashion show. At this point, the company cannot have the knowledge of the feedbacks. The forecast error may be large, which costs the company a lot. Even, it is faster, and can gain some profits, but with a high risk.

  9. Yi-Hang Yang says:

    The competition of fast fashion results in even faster fashion trend in order to get the early adopters before anyone else do. This seems to be applicable but it’s way too reckless if the fashion companies only focus on those apparels displayed on runways. We have to consider if early adopters’ preference will fit in with what the majority of people like as well, it can enjoy the benefit of this even faster fashion. On the other hand, if people have different taste from what those early adopters like and can not accept such new fashion, this forecast will cause tremendous error.

  10. Xiaodan Liu says:

    The fast fashion is more competitive and because of rush the product directly to the customers, the company will sale their product much earlier than others. Plus the information on line is update every second, the social medias have controlled the fashion directions, what the customer want today can be totally different from what they want “1 hour ” ago. The fast fashion will take the majority part of the market before others. But there is also a risk related to it, the gain from rush of the product could be a short-term benefit, and there is also a risk that create a bad brand image because of the repeatedly changing products and low quality, the company will have the risk of losing a lot customers. Thus from the long run side, the company can not do business just rush the product to their direct customers, they should also keep their business to those people who are more stable and not influenced by the rapidly changing fashion trend.

  11. Milind Patel says:

    Fast delivery of the apparel after the runway walk would be very appealing to consumers that follow fashion trends heavily. As Shashank mentioned, with the impact of social media nowadays in industries such as fashion, consumers want their product now. The difficulty to delivering the new trend right after the walk is forecasting how many of those units will be bought from the end of the walk and over the course of the next few weeks. Since these high fashion brands like Burberry and Tom Ford are always pushing the envelope with style, it seems it would be difficult to get a forecast on completely new products.

  12. Nathan Lowe says:

    I agree with Christine in the fact that one of the biggest concerns with this “ultra-fast” fashion is the issue of garment quality. Under this adjusted model, products would have to be at peak quality when they hit the runway because sales would then begin immediately afterwards. However, often the designs are pitched on the runway and then the firm goes back to optimize the quality. Having to achieve the quality standards before the runway events would increase the time for a product to go from an idea to a runway-ready product. This increase in time could delay the release of products to the runway, which could result in the product missing the fashion wave as the sales cycle continues to grow shorter.

  13. subhash katragadda says:

    I believe fashion purchase are impulsive, the more people see a model on a social media or fashion posters the more they are driven to buy it and today’s world of social media revolution fashion firms ability to put a product on both shelf and the runway at the same time is equally important to its ability of designing a trendy product, so I believe faster product launches and devising even quicker methods to incorporate feedback in next model is important for the success of fashion firms.

  14. Koustuv Pal says:

    Famous author Oscar Wilde once said that ” Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to change it every six months”. So if a fashion design is adjusted it actually becomes a new fashion and the old one is lost which we would have lost anyway after six months and making a profit before the fashion runs out of fashion is the right thing to do. However because fashion designers such as Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger are historically associated with the higher echelons of society we must figure out where the runway should be.
    Apparel industry and particularly fashion apparel is unlike the electronics industry where feedback from early adopters matter quite a lot. Fashion is very individualistic and what looks good on someone may not look good on other and vice versa and so i do not foresee any significant benefit from the satisfaction of their demand unless the product itself has quality issues

  15. mfoust35 says:

    I think there is a huge downside to rushing to get runway apparel to customers if one is looking at the supply side. In this situation, the designers will have to either have inventory on hand or have rush suppliers to supply the immediate demand. Both of these options would be expensive. Furthermore, having the inventory on hand is a very big risk since actual demand is not known and is all speculative. Adjustments in the initial fashion items themselves or small adjustments to consumer tastes would force the fashion companies to continue to use rush suppliers to meet demand (or risk having significant inventory that is useless), and feedback from the early adopters would further complicate this supply chain since it could change consumer tastes. With regard to fashion items that need to be sold in large quantities, I don’t believe this type of supply chain is a wise business decision. Now for very high-end fashion items, this type of supply chain could be sustainable. Suppose only a very limited number of units will be sold of a particular item, then the increase costs of rush suppliers and expediated shipments could be justified because the price tags of the items themselves are so high. Overall in an industry where consumer tastes change so quickly, I don’t believe there is any benefit to a delay in satisfaction.

  16. Vinay Gundam says:

    Looks like the growing trend in satisfying customer needs immediately has caught the apparel industry as well. This kind of demand is mainly from early adopters, whose share in the product life cycle is very less. The advantage I see here is apparel companies can extract a premium price for delivering latest trends as quickly as possible. They can also use this information to decide to manufacture more clothes which are successful to satisfy the demand of customers in later stage of product life cycle. They will be in a better position to forecast for this group than for the early adopters and apparel companies can focus their effort in manufacturing a select range of apparel which have proven to be successful and leverage economies of scale. But the down side is that choice of customers in later stages will be limited by the choice of customers before them.

  17. Senthil says:

    Apparel industry is having more new products introduction every season. To get the sense of what is the fashion in the next season, it is better to get the maximum possible data about the season from previous adjacent season. This strategy will help to improve the profit of the company. Just sending the runway apparels to customers in bulk quantity without investigating the other sources to learn about fashion trendy is a hasty approach in the business. By producing products only based on the runway apparel information would be difficult for the manufacturer to adjust to other fashion sources. This might cause a huge loss to the company if they are not flexible to the trends being observed close to the season. So, feedback from the early adopter has to be carefully considered and verify whether the new product design is matching the trends from early adopter. If they are off from the trend then they have to make design and order adjustments to reduce demand forecasting errors which would lead to losing the competitiveness edge in market.

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