Fashion confronting a ‘need for speed’ era

RetailME Bureau

Retailers worldwide are adjusting to a new norm of ‘speed’, with young consumers increasingly demanding fast, on-trend, fashion-led styles within short timeframes.

Research conducted by Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy, indicates that speed and agility are the top priorities for every retailer competing in fast fashion. After all, one in eight young consumers (aged 18-24 year) shop every week, buying a fashion item at least once a fortnight.

“Young consumers have a ‘see now, buy now, wear now’ mentality when it comes to fashion, which has been driven by big fashion houses making the latest designs and styles available to buy straight from the catwalk. This is challenging retailers to improve their operational agility to meet rising demand for current trends,” observes Dan Murphy, managing director, Kurt Salmon.

“This insatiable appetite for fast fashion will inevitably continue as these shoppers age. There is no reason to believe that younger consumers, who have grown up wedded to devices and social media, will expect anything less than instant gratification in years to come, and continue to possess the same sense of style and image,” he adds.

‘See now’ hastens new lines

With many younger consumers constantly searching for style inspiration on everything from social media to the high street, retailers are under increasing pressure to turn around new lines in record time. Many have been working hard to reduce their lead times to meet this growing demand for fast fashion. One leading fashion retailer is now delivering new lines in 2-3 weeks; yet speed is only part of the success equation.

“Retailers need to accurately analyse what is selling in real-time and be in a position where they can react quickly,” Murphy explains. “According to one major fashion retailer, there is now only a 24-36-hour window from browsing to buying. Retailers that actively engage with their customers, analyse shopping and social media habits and pre-empt future trends will be the winners in the fast fashion market.”

‘Buy now’ propels faster deliver models

Speed of delivery of online orders is also highly important to consumers. Accenture research highlights that one in five of 18-20 year olds look for same-day delivery, and a further 13% want delivery in less than half a day.

On the other hand, 21-37 year olds are slightly more relaxed with almost a third happy for their orders to arrive the next day.

‘Wear now’ is the new in

The study found that shoppers buy for the present, with 53% of all consumers surveyed wearing items within a week of purchase, with 15% wearing items the very same day. For younger consumers the numbers increase; 60% wear items within a week of purchase and one in five wear items on the same day of purchase.

While the majority of younger shoppers claim that ethical sustainability is a key factor informing their purchasing decisions, their behaviour suggests otherwise – less than half (48%) of 18-24 year olds recycle their clothes. Additionally, half (50%) of retailers surveyed say they are actively exploring new ways to extend the product lifecycle, using recycled materials or facilitating clothes swapping and sharing.

Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy, interviewed 23 CEOs and senior executives at leading global fashion retailers to explore the ‘see now, buy now, wear now’ trend and the readiness of retailers to deliver. A survey of 2,000 UK consumers was also conducted to understand current appetite for fast fashion.