Fast fashion in the 21st century has reached incredible levels of innovation and speed. By definition, fast fashion is a term for designs inspired by high fashion and runway looks that are quickly turned into affordable and accessible clothing. Fast fashion clothing brands aim to take the best new trends from the most recent fashion presentations and produce them on a broader scale so that the average customer can buy them. The speed at which companies have been able to provide items is incredible. Using less expensive materials and spending less time on the design process allows these companies to quickly produce new goods to keep up with the rapidly changing trends in fashion. While many companies partake in fast fashion production, there are a few giants who lead the field in design and manufacturing.
All fast fashion clothing brands have the same goals in common: take the latest trends from the catwalk to the consumer as fast and inexpensively as possible. Zara is a Spanish company that has become one of the biggest brands in the field of fast fashion. With stores all around the world, Zara is a ubiquitous powerhouse. One of the main reasons for Zara’s success is its speed. While the average new fashion line takes a large-scale company approximately six months to design and produce, Zara needs only one week. Their rate is a result of the fast design process. Zara spends very little time designing the products they manufacture. Instead, they focus on the pre-existing popular trends seen on runways and in the streets. They respond quickly to what customers want, relying on satisfying demand instead of introducing innovation. This model allows for Zara to promptly supply the public with the exact designs they are already looking for.
Zara is also able to produce faster than most companies because they have their factory. With self-contained production, Zara can move products from the design stage to the manufacturing stage with incredible speed. From there, new designs are continually brought into stores every few days. Maintaining its production facility also helps to keep costs down for the company, which in turn keeps costs down for consumers. Zara is also known for reliable basics and wardrobe staples.
Like Zara, H&M is an international behemoth of fast fashion. Short for Hennes & Mauritz AB, H&M is a Swedish brand that has raised the bar in terms of both manufacturing speed and clothing cost. H&M is unique in that they often collaborate with high-end designers and celebrities to produce exclusive lines. Designers like Alexander Wang, Balmain, Isabel Marant have all worked with H&M, as have celebrities including Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, and Beyonce. Like Zara, H&M sells both fast fashion and versatile basics. H&M remains one of the biggest fast fashion clothing brands today.
In addition to focusing on new trends, major brands like Zara and H&M have taken steps to introduce sustainable lines to their fast fashion designs. They use sustainable materials and methods in addition to encouraging customers to recycle and donate clothing. H&M even offers discounts if you bring in old clothes to their stores.
Britain’s response to fast fashion came in the form of Topshop. Similar to H&M, Topshop has partnered with prominent celebrities, including Kate Moss and Beyonce. Topshop made its name in fast fashion as an edgy, youthful, British alternative.
Like Topshop, Forever 21 prides itself on its edginess and youth. Founded in Los Angeles, Forever 21 now has stores around the world. The brand has made a name for itself with its incredibly low prices and emphasis on current trends. Their stores are packed with new designs, and they are constantly bringing in new products.
Responding to the popularity of social media and the desire to wear exactly what the celebrities are wearing, the online shopping brand Fashion Nova popped up in just the last few years. Based out of Los Angeles, Fashion Nova has skyrocketed to become one of the biggest fast fashion clothing brands. Their model is to take inspiration from celebrities and make designs right after they are seen wearing them. Fashion Nova can produce clothes similar to the high fashion designs of people like Kim Kardashian and offer them for a fraction of the cost. They boast a production time of fewer than two weeks. Without stores, they can keep costs down and reach a broader consumer base.
Fast fashion clothing brands are some of the most dynamic, rapidly changing companies working today. They prioritize the trends popular with consumers to lower production costs and offer high-end designs at a low price. We can’t all buy a $1,000 dress, but we can indeed find an affordable option thanks to fast fashion. Even better, the low costs and quickly changing options mean that the next new trend is just around the corner.