Not Just a Shopper. Things You Have To Know About Fast Fashion
During this summer, the market of fast retailing is getting “hotter and hotter” because international clothing retailers such as H&M, Forever21, Bershka (Zara’s sister brand) are expanding and have opened their physical shops in Taiwan, especially locating in Taipei City.
According to the news report, huge crowds of shoppers were standing in the long line, waiting for the grand opening of Forever 21. This shows not only the foreign brand is highly accepted but consumers are fascinated by it. However, why are these fast retailing brands so successful? How come people are willing to spend their time and money to shop at these foreign clothing stores?
The Rise of Fast Fashion
Fast Fashion – Quick, Trendy, and Cheap
Fast fashion is a contemporary term to describe the fashion trend that is rapidly changing and to express the speed of the manufacturing and designing of the clothes in order to meet customers’ needs and expectation towards the latest styles of fashion garments.
Unlike traditional cycles that present fashion week in spring or autumn annually or seasonally, clothing retailers such as Zara, H&M, Forever21, and Uniqlo showcase their new collections in every 2 to 8 weeks. In this case, customers can always find the trendiest items when they visit the stores. Since the company only distributes few items to each stores, there will be only a few in stock and will help save the company’s costs as well. That is, these garments are sold in a relatively low price.
Strategy– Speed& Crossover
To implement the concept of fast fashion, certain companies build a new kind of supply chain. They produce the most fashionable items at the factory that is in its proximity to their headquarters, and manufacture basic items in factories which are located on the other side of the globe. Therefore, it only takes the company2 to 3 weeks to finish the production.
Despite that “speed” is the key point of fast fashion, these companies are searching for new ways to make their brand advance into the international market “For instance, H&M cooperated with Karl Lagerfeld, the famous Chanel’s creative editor, and released “Karl Lagerfeld × H&M” collection which was sold out within minutes in 2004”, Kora Hsieh（謝可珍）, senior fashion editor of ELLE magazine said. Because of the movement, more and more people can afford to buy designer clothing and it won’t cost them an arm or a leg.”
Fast Fashion: A Double-edged Sword
The storm of fast fashion strikes Taiwan with its reasonable price and brand image. People are usually confident in the quality of products of some famous brands.” Cheng-en Tsai（蔡承恩）, a customer of fast fashion stores said. Brand is an important factor that has impact on consumers’ shopping decisions. If a retailer has a well-established brand name, customers will be drawn in and hooked by their products as they think these items they buy from this garment company are good in quality. Another important factor is price. “I will buy it if it is on sale.” said another customer. These enterprises of fast fashion usually hold promotional events to attract customers. In addition, the retailers who hold these events can maximize their sales and profits by reducing the amount of stock in their megastores. Various styles of clothing can suit customers’ fast changing tastes “Fast fashion has a variety of clothing styles; customers can find many styles in the fast fashion stores. They are not too fancy nor gaudy. The colors are almost plain. Plain-color clothing is multi-matcher. If you don’t know how to dress, models are for good reference.
It is very convenient to follow the flow of fashion, because fast fashion catches the current fashion trends. They are manufactured quickly and massively in order for the latest trends and lower price. Its marketing strategies are to compress the time of merchandises, thereby leaving more kinds of items for one to choose.
There are two sides on every coin. With the development of fast fashion, more and more people come to realize the disadvantages of it. The negative aspects of fast fashion can be easily seen. One of the biggest problems of fast fashion is pollution. The fast updating speed characterizes the features fast fashion. The clothes are manufactured quickly in large quantity. More pollution and waste will be produced accompanied with massive amount of manufactured items. Nowadays, plenty of fast fashion retailers are aware of this issue and address it with some viable solutions. A great number of them have been recycling clothes to reduce waste. For instance, Uniqlo puts its All-Product Recycling Initiative Program. This program recycles old clothes and sends them to where they are needed. However, compared to their efforts on environmental protection, the damage to the environment and the pollution caused are more serious.
The key to success of Fast fashion retailers is mainly due to its fast updating speed and cheap prices. While it provides more jobs, it also causes labor exploitation. It is obvious that workers on the production line need to work overtime in order to complete the manufacturing process in time. Besides, it’s also reported that some fast fashion retailers exploit the labor force by underpaying them. “I prefer to purchase clothes when it’s on sale,” said Bao-yu Yang（楊寶玉）, a customer of a fast fashion store. The cheaper price also shows the cheaper labor. “From a consumer’s point of view, he or she always finds it hard to decide what to buy,” said Jun-lun Huang（黄俊綸）, a former staff in Uniqlo. “Because of the fast updating speed, I never know whether the next batch of new clothes will be more suitable to me.” Of course, everyone wants to make a perfect choice. How do you know the next one will not be better?
The trend of fast fashion is expanding quickly worldwide and there are some newly opened shops here in Taiwan. As the retailers of the fast fashion can quickly manufacture clothes items at an affordably low price, people in Taiwan love to shop there. They have made people’s shopping experiences much better and enjoyable but also bring some negative influences.
Fast fashion industry can certainly boost the economic growth but they also produce massive amount of textile wastes. There is also the problem of labor exploitation as many workers are reported to be underpaid. The trend of fast fashion makes the customers have more choices and has changed the shopping habits of consumers, but there is still a lot that can be done, and make it more environmentally friendly.