International Retailing especially the fashion retailing industry has undergone tremendous changes in the last two decades and these changes have characterised by various factors. The most significant and far reaching change has been that the time between the fashion design creations to the retail market has shrunk rapidly. Earlier on the designs used to be unveiled or announced in premier fashion shows and through upcoming events designed for showcasing the designer trends for the next season. Once unveiled the designs would be available to the market only in the following season. Besides the fashion designs were highly seasonal including Spring & Summer as well as winter collections. But now the fashion retailers have adapted a new trend known as fast fashion.
With the new trend of fast fashion, the international retailers have begun to catch in on the new trends in the market as well as begun to change the fashion trends keeping in line with the new youthful culture. Few changes and evolutions in the fashion industry have contributed to the emergence of fast fashion. Typically fast fashion now enables companies to design, produce as well as reach it to the stores within a matter of 4 weeks while it used to take over six to twelve months earlier.
Technology has played a very important role affecting the industry. Design and sample production to bulk manufacturing has now become a very fast and efficient process thanks to software technology and electronic communications cutting across time and distances. Data transfer as well as sharing of information instantly across all parties involved in the entire process has dramatically reduced the time taken in design development and manufacturing. New suppliers in emerging economies with highly skilled labour and production facilities capable of churning out bulk garments faster and the new sourcing strategies and new markets have made it possible for the retailers to procure bulk products in very short time. Countries like China and India have adopted modern technology in both design development studios combined with manufacturing facilities aiming to provide one stop shop deliveries for bulk fashion garment industry. Deliveries from the manufacturer to the showroom are highly dependent upon supply chain and logistics. While sea freight delivery times have shrunk, retailers do not hesitate to airlift the finished goods to the market thus cutting down on the delivery times.
The fast fashion trends have not only helped cut down the order to delivery times, but changed the entire concept of retail fashion. Fashion retailers are able to design and order products for individual markets and cater to specific local market requirements. With fast fashion, they are able to take a lead in providing the latest trends in the markets enabling these brands to score over the domestic retailers and thus establish their leadership in the markets.
Fast fashion has changed the way that international retail industry functions especially in terms of its marketing as well as sourcing strategies are concerned. Establishing and expanding business in the foreign markets is not easy. The international retailers are required to be sensitive to the market trends and adapt to the changes very quickly. Lead-time for adapting to new trends is not a luxury that the international retail industry has. Therefore the industry is always looking out for innovative ways and means to grow their business in international markets.