Fast Fashion is a fashion business model of production characterized by the shortening of the time periods in which each fashion cycle reaches the point of sale. In general, the fast fashion model combines short production and retailing time-periods (bringing supply and demand closer together) with a high-trend product design (made possible due to consumer and market monitoring) (Cachon and Swinney, 2011).
Fast Fashion has been defined as the “formulas adopted by firms that do not create a product planned on a seasonal basis, but instead reduce the time gap between designing the product and the time of consumption; this reduction is achieved either by putting together more frequent selections or by continuous redesigning and constant new production” (Guercini, 2001, p. 70). Thereby, fast fashion brands are able to introduce small collections of articles each week, leaving behind the old planning collections (autumn/winter and spring/summer) and responding to the latest trends.
Bruce and Daly (2006, p. 329) explain the dynamics of fast fashion through three factors:
- Timing: the objective of this model is getting clothing into stores within the shortest time possible
- Cost factors: companies are taking advantage of lower priced products from overseas (Lowson, 2001; Mattila et al., 2002)
- Fashion buying cycle: the traditional fashion buying cycle is based on long-term forecasts from historical sales, and occurs one year before a season, with leads for orders placed six months prior to product launch (Birtwistle et al., 2003).
The fast fashion model first originated in Italy (Sull and Turconi, 2008). At the time, it was devised to facilitate the rapid replacement of clothing items. However, Zara (Inditex) took the model a stage further by going beyond the idea of rapid replacement and focusing on placing new products in its stores according to the fashion of the moment. It is said that they adapted Benetton’s “tinto in capo” system, and combined it with Toyota’s “just-in-time” organizational procedures. This is a model that has successfully been applied to over 80 countries. “The rapid expansion of Inditex throughout the world has forced many other companies such as H&M or Gap to introduce the fast fashion concept into their business models: a high percentage of production close-by that enables them to react rapidly to fashion changes or adapt to certain markets” (Lara and Sádaba, 2012, p.314).