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Fast Fashion 101

The fashion industry changes as fast as it grows, with consumer demand requiring increased speed at every stage of production. However, this is problematically matched by a growing need for sustainable fashion.

Making fashion fit for business

Consumers may view the fashion industry as simply the clothes they buy in store, but the broader business also encompasses footwear and accessories, the textiles required to make them, the shipping process, marketing, and potentially international distribution.

While menswear is, unusually, growing faster than women's, an industry-wide trend is seeing consumers shifting away from mid-market products. This polarization means that luxury and discount brands alike are experiencing growth.

While menswear is, unusually, growing faster than women's, an industry-wide trend is seeing consumers shifting away from mid-market products. This polarization means that luxury and discount brands alike are experiencing growth.

Now worth more than US$3trn, fashion worldwide accounts for 2% of the global GDP and provides jobs for 60 million workers. However, the distribution of those jobs may be changing as the market�s global center of gravity shifts eastward.

CHANGE TOWARDS CHINA

2018 marked the first time that over half of apparel and footwear sales originated outside of Europe and North America, instead coming from emerging markets across Asia-Pacific and Latin America.


China also continues to be the largest exporter of apparel in the world, dominating the global trade market in 2017. They're not just making the products though – they're buying them too, owing to GDP growth and a strengthening economy. This means the Asia-Pacific region now accounts for 38% of fashion sales, leaving Europe in second place with 27%.

38%

Asia-Pacific
fashion sales

27%

leaving Europe
in second place

China also continues to be the largest exporter of apparel in the world, dominating the global trade market in 2017. They're not just making the products though – they're buying them too, owing to GDP growth and a strengthening economy. This means the Asia-Pacific region now accounts for 38% of fashion sales, leaving Europe in second place with 27%.

TAKING fashion home

The importance of fashion weeks will always anchor the industry in cities like London, Paris and New York. However, many western companies are now localizing their supply chains too, with two thirds of US apparel executives prioritizing speed to market and in-season reactivity.

Zara has achieved a two-week lead time for taking trends from catwalk to shop floor (traditional fashion players can take as long as 12), by basing their manufacturing in northern Spain and managing their own supply chain. Keeping manufacture closer to the stores reduces the product journey and also consumer waiting time.

See now, buy now
Driven by digital catwalks, online flash sales and click-to-purchase options on social media, fast-fashion sales have grown 20% over the last three years. With brands accelerating the timescale from design to shelf, the need to expedite shipping has also grown, with Gucci offering home delivery in 90 minutes or less for certain cities.
Burberry even defied the typical six-month lag between catwalk and store arrival in 2016, making items available immediately after the models had walked in them. With such flexibility, fast fashion supply chain has become a lucrative business model.

Artificial intelligence in fashion

In a bid to meet consumer demand, some retailers are now making use of new technologies to manage their stock flow, automate tasks and free up resources for further investments. In this way they can help in tackling pre-existing issues of overstock, which constituted $472bn in lost retail revenue in 2015.

Item 1

SOLVING OVERSTOCK ISSUES WITH AI SUPPLY CHAIN

While operating online opens a business up to an international customer base, return rates also average over 20% more than offline shopping. German e-commerce company Otto therefore relies upon artificial intelligence tools to provide 90% accuracy forecasts on what will sell in the next 30 days. This has also allowed them to cut overstock by 20%.

Item 2

PREDICTING POPULAR PRODUCTS

AI technologies can also analyze which items were most requested by the press and stylists, helping brands gauge those that will prove popular. By predicting an item's demand before it even hits the shelves, this can regulate manufacturing processes and reduce potential losses caused by overproduction. Kate Spade for example uses an ERP system to control stock and sample collections.

Item 3

FASHION AGAINST POLLUTION

AI technologies reduce forecasting errors by up to 50%, making them extremely beneficial for improving sustainability. However, some companies are combating post-sale waste too, with For Days replacing stained or damaged shirts for consumers with recycled ones. As Americans are the most likely globally to donate clothing they no longer wear, this acts as a key differentiator for eco-conscious consumers.

By helping companies to suitably prepare for product demand and thereby reduce necessary inventory, AI technologies are serving their wider purpose of enabling businesses to boost their efficiency and reduce environmental impact – both of which are important considerations for today's ethically-conscious consumer.

By helping companies to suitably prepare for product demand and thereby reduce necessary inventory, AI technologies are serving their wider purpose of enabling businesses to boost their efficiency and reduce environmental impact – both of which are important considerations for today's ethically-conscious consumer.

Recycling Rewards

With 66% of global millennials willing to spend more on sustainable brands, clothing waste reduction practices are not only good for the planet but for business too. As 42% of fashion brands shared their supplier information last year in a bid to improve consumer transparency and promote sustainable practices, companies failing to step up will soon fall out of fashion favor – particularly in the UK, whose shoppers are the most likely to consider a brand's ethics before buying.

66%

Of global
millenials

42%

of fashion
brands

DEPENDABLE DELIVERY

Half of online shoppers cite ease and cost of delivery as the main factor influencing their web-based purchase decisions, while over a third consider the ease and cost of returns too. With so many market changes and new technologies being introduced, all promising to revolutionize the manufacturing process, it's important to have a shipping partner you can depend upon.

A delay in delivery to stores by even a week can drastically affect profit margins, with a product's average life cycle being limited to eight weeks. Make sure your chosen service can ship to and from all the countries you trade with, and that your logistics plan is ready to respond to the changes that will inevitably come.

DEPENDABLE DELIVERY

Half of online shoppers cite ease and cost of delivery as the main factor influencing their web-based purchase decisions, while over a third consider the ease and cost of returns too. With so many market changes and new technologies being introduced, all promising to revolutionize the manufacturing process, it's important to have a shipping partner you can depend upon.

A delay in delivery to stores by even a week can drastically affect profit margins, with a product's average life cycle being limited to eight weeks. Make sure your chosen service can ship to and from all the countries you trade with, and that your logistics plan is ready to respond to the changes that will inevitably come.

Pen
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