Digitization, transparency and ethics to keep fast fashion retailers relevant in post-COVID apparel market, says GlobalData

Customers are mindful of the adverse environmental impact of fast fashion. Sustainability and ethical awareness are influencing the industry to make dynamic changes such as digitization, circularity and transparency in business practices that will help brands in the long-term, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Conscious consumption is on the rise and shoppers have acquired a different set of priorities such as recycled materials, affordable prices and good quality. Fast fashion retailers should use their inherent capability to provide such an offer with their quick turnaround time in response to the latest trends.

Rukmini Durge, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Designers and brands have reflected on fast fashion industry’s business practices in view of COVID-19 disruptions to conclude that it is time for fast fashion to take a turn for the better. Offering consciously made clothing can attract customers and drive sales without the pressure of continuous change and production that results in waste of materials and growing landfills.

“Customers hold the brands accountable for maintaining traceability of raw materials, factories and production processes. Customers’ lasting loyalty to a brand, a share of their wallet and the brand’s image is bolstered by means of upholding this. Thus, providing transparency in supply chain and manufacturing and closing the loop of apparel life cycles through recycling initiatives has become pertinent for companies.”

Pandemic led store closures, piling up of inventory and shift in consumer behavior towards lesser purchases have led the retailers to downsize the product ranges. Fast fashion retailers saw the e-commerce channel grow exponentially as customers took to shopping online. Lower price points, easy online accessibility and increased focus on digitization will enable fast-fashion retailers to attract shoppers looking for trendy yet affordable products from the comfort of their phones/other devices.

Ms Durge concludes: “Brands must focus on a differentiating factor to stand out in the competition, in the way ASOS did with the launch of its new-to-market womenswear brand ‘As You’. With the upcoming festive season and positive updates about COVID-19 vaccine, fast-fashion retailers will have the potential to make up for a substantial share of sales that were lost during the pandemic. Digitization, value for money and focus on transparency, circularity will be vital to the growth of fast fashion in the near future.”

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