The first time that classmates in America heard the name Zara was not because they saw an advertisement on the newspaper or a store on the street, it was because our next case project was the Zara case. In a class of logistics, transportation and supply chain management is almost a must to study this case, maybe fashion is not as interesting for eveyone, usually they may think that Valentino or Vera Wang are the neighbor’s children, but perhaps we should become familiar with the supply chain management style in Fast Fashion.
Cloting retailers like Zara, H&M, Topshop and Forever 21 are giving a new perspective in the supply chaing and logistics world, maybe the improvements are in a business segment that sadly is not considered innteresting and important for everyone, because there is a lot to learn as the fast fashion industry is succesfully growing.
Before fast fashion, the designers of this industry aimed from the haute couture market to lines sold in stores like Kohl’s and Walmart, historically they have worked on a four season product calendar. New designs were created six months before their arrival in stores, this gave designers time to make late adjustments according to any unexpected trend, and gave supply chain managers time to negotiate supply, production and transportation contracts. At the end, garments were sent to stores in a variaty of sizes and ranges. Then stores push the new arrivals extremely before, which eventually caused the discount in the items to accomplish the end of the season at the time desired.
Fast Fashion has speed up the process, as the four season product calendar is almost ignored and there is a continuous design process, that of course is season conscious but more focused in real time trends, as they take into account more the demand signals received from store by the shoppers, or street style.
For example if in certain location the customers express their interest in buying plaid shirts or denim skirt the information is transmitted by the stores to the central management areas, whom at the same thime contact the designers to inmediately design something to meet the demands, they make different changes but with the same idea in order to reach more customers, insted of six months to desing, produce and deliver a garment to store, fast fashion does the cycle in six to eighr weeks.
To achieve this, retailers have a strong relationship with suppliers of materials and garment producers, whose at the same time prepare themselves with strategies, like buying materials in bulk and white, as white is easily dye into another color.
Fast fashion companies ship small numbers of each item to their stores, as the goal is to sell the products at a full price, they are not interested in leaving garments to be sold at discount. But also the full price in fast fashion usually is below 50$ for some garments, which is a big difference from a haute couture garment that can cost 1000$.
Fast fashion expects to succed based in the current trends and affordable prices, not exactly in quality, as they usually do not survive several years, in some cases months, but that is not a problem, as this mean an opportunity to sell in the future.
This tipe of supply chain management is not possible to do in all industries, as not every item can be easily disposed in a short-term, but some ideas can be taken as they meet demands in a short period at affordable price, as this style has the potential to increase revenues and sales, as it increase the ability to sell the merchandise at a full price.