The 21st century is the rise of social media and social media influencers, where people have more online presence than offline. Everyone wants to dress up as their favourite celebrities or influencers all the time. These influencers also raise the bar for others as they never repeat the clothes they wear. This has given rise to something called a fast fashion cycle, where clothes come in and out of fashion quite quickly. This huge and constant demand for new apparel has given birth to the phenomenon of "fast fashion".
Let us understand the term "fast fashion" and its implications on the world's fashion scene.
Fast fashion is a phenomenon where apparel manufacturing industries replicate certain catwalk looks. They copy designs from high fashion brands, mass-produce them, and quickly release them in the market while there is great demand for these items. These brands churn out huge quantities of these products to keep a low manufacturing cost.
The reason for the major success of these fast fashion brands is because they regularly add new items and designs to their product list. Therefore, fickle-minded consumers get to buy the latest fashion pieces as soon as it hits the market, that too at affordable prices. Gone are the days when the fashion-conscious would wait for a new season of an apparel brand to hit the stores—fast fashion brands launch new apparel items almost every day.
Fast fashion retailers usually have an online presence to keep overhead costs under control. As a result, they can keep a check on the prices of their products. Low pricing is also another critical aspect of the success of fast fashion.
When it comes to fast fashion, only one brand dominates this sector: Shein. It is an online fast fashion brand that is wildly popular with today's fashion-conscious generation.
Read on to know more about Shein and its suppliers.
Shein is the most popular direct-to-consumer fast fashion brand with an international online presence. It was founded by Chris Xu in October 2008. Previously a drop-shipping business, Shein slowly turned into the largest online store for fast fashion across the world.
Shein initially worked as a retailer brand that sourced its clothes from the Ghungzhou district in China, which is a major hub for readymade apparel. Now, Shein has developed its supply chain systems. With a team of over 800 designers and vendors, Shein now designs its own clothes and has a set of vendors who make Shein clothes. Today, it delivers fast fashion apparel to almost 220 countries worldwide.
The reason behind the brand's enormous success is the fact that it can churn trendy and affordable clothing at rock-bottom prices.
Shein targets the minds of young shoppers who would like to browse through the latest collections of clothes, shoes, and accessories daily. Shein adds almost 3000 new styles on its website every week. This is the reason why consumers visit the online platform so frequently.
Moreover, the brand has tie-ups with famous social media influencers, who constantly post videos posing in clothes from Shein. Also, they regularly post updates of "Shein hauls", a clever marketing tool that helps educate buyers regarding the brand's recent launches. This tactic draws consumers towards the brand's website, and they end up shopping for the same.
Shein operates on an on-demand model, where it acquires products in small batches of around 100 pieces per item. The production is then increased based on demand. This way, Shein is able to avoid dead stock or losses on unwanted inventory.
The manufacturing process followed by the vendors also contributes to the brand's success. The turnaround time for vendors who make Shein clothes should be able to complete the production of a particular design in 10 days. This lets the brand quickly add new items on its website to keep the consumer interest high.
Once a drop-shipping business, Shein has now made a mark for itself as the world's largest online fast fashion brand. All the products available on their website are trendy and extremely cheap. However, these clothes are of surprisingly good quality as well.
So how does the brand manage to keep its prices low while also offering good quality to its consumers? The answer lies in its manufacturing and supply chain system.
Over the years, the founder Chris Xu has had good relations with suppliers who make Shein clothes of good quality with a relatively less turnaround time. This has helped him secure excellent quality goods from vendors while keeping the prices low.
With the massive success of Shein now, the brand has a set of apparel vendors who make clothes based on the designs submitted by the Shein team. These vendors are given a strict turnaround time of ten days to finish and ship the clothing. Most of these vendors belong to the Guangzhou district of China.
According to Alibaba, these are a few manufacturers who make Shein clothes:
Location: Fujian, China
Specialises in: Women's clothes, sportswear, caps, socks
Location: Fujian, China
Specialises in: Yoga clothes, women's underwear, women's t-shirts, etc.
Location: Fujian, China
Specialises in: Ladies' fashion jewellery and accessories
Specialises in: Women's sweaters, blazers, long coats, pants, and other knitted wear
Specialises in: Jeans, shirts, dresses, jackets
Specialises in: One-piece dresses, shirts, t-shirts, long tops, coats, sweaters
Specialises in: Ladies' latest dresses, jumpsuits, jackets, pants, and tops
Specialises in: Dresses, jackets, bodysuits, blouses, t-shirts
Location: Zhejiang, China
Specialises in: Women's dresses, leggings, tops, sportswear, and fitness and yoga wear
Specialises in: Dresses, jumpsuits, co-ord sets
The emergence of fast fashion has paved a new path into the fashion industry. The contemporary thinking of new-age brands like Shein certainly challenges the traditional style of the fashion business. Existing fashion brands waiting for months to launch their new collection or having a longer manufacturing turnaround time may become irrelevant in the near future.
To be a successful fashion business, brands can replicate Shein's success by incorporating some of its strategies into its existing business. Here is how fashion businesses can spell success by turning into a fast-fashion brand:
The success of the fast-fashion business model greatly depends on reliable suppliers. Therefore, finding first-rate suppliers who can produce clothing with a quick turnaround time will help fashion houses constantly launch new clothing items.
A stable supply chain system helps businesses track their orders and provide timely services to customers. With a good supply chain, products reach the retail stores faster, giving the brand an advantage over others.
Cutting overhead costs like human resources or real estate can help brands reduce the costs of clothing items. This, in turn, will attract more sales, increasing profits in the long run. An online presence is the best way to reduce overhead costs in today's market.
Clothing trends may be hard to predict. But keeping an eye on runway fashion or trending apparel can give business houses an idea of clothes that will be in trend soon. Businesses can cash in on it by quickly identifying such trends and getting their vendors to manufacture such clothing. With a quick turnaround time, they can quickly launch the clothing item in the market while it is in great demand.
Social media marketing can be an excellent way for fashion brands to advertise their fast-fashion brand. Tying up with influencers and showcasing now launches every week can help the brand grab attention from its young target audience.
Running loyalty programs can be a great way for fashion brands to increase their sales on the website. Rewarding buyers on every purchase will only encourage them to visit the website more often and make purchases, rather than leaving the page with a wishlist.
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