You only have to glance at the latest results of Boohoo and Missguided to know fast fashion is booming. But what is it that makes these retailers outperform the market?

We see two important drivers that underpin success in online fast fashion. And we also see examples of other types of retailers deploying these levers to succeed through physical stores and ‘slower’ fashion.

Pace
While Zara’s 5-week turnaround was once held as a paragon in this regard, Boohoo’s lead time from concept to sale is reportedly two weeks, and Missguided’s one-week turnaround moves the goalposts. Beyond the online fast fashion houses, the likes of Burberry have pioneered their see-now-buy-now approach, and similarly, Rebecca Minkoff has reduced the catwalk to store lead time so that items hit shelves as soon as they are revealed. H&M has announced plans to shake up their supply chain processes, looking to move some production to Europe to get faster deliveries around the continent.

Xcel Brands (which owns labels such as Isaac Mizrahi and Halston) have turned their back on the designer label trend for creating large collections a few times a year and now send new items to select retail partners every week to give customers a reason to keep coming into stores.

On point
With social media and online influencers taking the lead in defining what is cool, brands and retailers are working to regain some control of ensuring they remain on point. This isn’t an online only phenomenon. Primark gets consumers to create social media hype around products through their Primania platform but has no online offering.

Fabletics, the activewear brand, was founded in 2013 as an online-only, subscription-based service, but now has over 20 US stores. Co-founder and actress Kate Hudson has 7.6 million Instagram followers and regularly posts photos of herself in the brand’s products. In November 2016, Missguided itself opened a standalone retail outlet at Westfield Stratford, which is designed around an integrated and immersive social media offering.

So, while fast fashion thrives, there is scope for both physical and digital fashion retailers, both fast and slow, to succeed. Especially if they pay attention to these two key drivers of keeping pace and staying on point – fulfilling customer wants and embracing social media.

Jessica Williams