Distribution & Fulfillment Channels: Fast Fashion: Distribution Disruption as Business Model

Fashion is changing rapidly and speed to market is a huge part of this transformation. In the past few years in fast fashion we’ve seen a lot of disruption, decentralization, and Instagram monetization.

Think about the original fashion business supply chain and how it’s been set up with department stores and a push model of the industry deciding what’s available and what we’re going to wear. Everyone was shopping in malls to engage with products.

Today, we’re operating more on a pull model where customers can tell us more about what they want. We’ve seen retailers like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M operate in this model of what we consider fast fashion. The real difference is the speed to market and the time it takes for the production process for that product to make its way to a floor.

Zara has been able to innovate and engage with feedback loops and speed up the process to market. Engaging in smaller batch manufacturing is helpful when you’re competing for space on a manufacturing line. It takes more effort and resources to produce 30,000 garments in one place versus spreading out demand in several factories since you’re competing with other retailers and brands to get manufacturing facility space and capacity.

Using fashion education, you can pivot more quickly when you’re dealing with fewer units. There’s opportunities to use customer feedback to shorten production lead time.There are so many points in the supply chain where, when you’re dealing with less units, it becomes easier for stores to more quickly funnel their product.

In historical department store retail, it could take six to nine months to go through this process. Fast fashion really disrupted that process and we no longer have to wait for the season to end to continue iterating, innovating, and ultimately bring newness on our time.

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