Can fast fashion compete with entry-level luxury brands? – WWD | Bot To News


MILAN – When the TikTok account @trendswithtate posted a video commenting on a Massimo Dutti shearling coat selling for $2,000 on the brand’s website, comments and likes skyrocketed, reaching nearly 50,000 interactions.

“Honestly, I never expected my video to blow up,” Tate Morrison, the creator of the account, told WWD. Commenters on the video indicated that they would never buy a coat that costs so much from a fast fashion brand, or praised Massimo Dutti for his bold move.

The Massimo Dutti coat - screenshot taken from their official website

Massimo Dutti’s coat: screenshot taken from their official website.

Image courtesy

The gap between ultra-fast fashion and fast fashion has become more evident than ever, and as brands such as Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti and &Other Stories try to raise their image, they are also raising their prices.

The term “ultra-fast fashion” was first used during the pandemic and describes brands such as Chinese online retailer Shein, which produces huge quantities of clothing in a short period of time. Every day, Shein enters nearly 6,000 designs on the website, and the company can take as little as three days to plan, produce and market a piece of clothing, according to a McKinsey & Co. report.

But while ultra-fast fashion retailers are selling items that cost as little as $10, some more “traditional” fast fashion brands are trying to move up the market by repositioning themselves as more expensive.

Andrea Batilla, author of the books “Instant Fashion” and “The Fashion’s Alphabet”, and former director of the Istituto Europeo di Design and brand consultant, he said “I’m like the most beautiful girl with the worst reputation. Everyone wants it, but we know they can be toxic, so they try to clean up their image.”

Zara recently unveiled an Atelier collection shot by renowned fashion photographer Paolo Roversi with the aim of celebrating “high-end designs and exquisite craftsmanship”. The items, mostly coats and dresses, were priced around $400.

“These fast fashion companies are able to position themselves above the ultra-fast fashion brands,” Batilla said.

According to Cécilia Moussy, a Paris-based fashion trend analyst and luxury brand consultant who previously worked at Tagwalk, the fashion search engine that collects information on fashion shows, designers, trends and new talent, “the price alone it can no longer justify the high-end character of a clothing brand, and it is not the only indicator to define what a premium product should be”.

Indeed, customers, especially Gen Z, are very aware of the harms of fast fashion and have high expectations around transparency.

“The more these brands meet the prices of premium brands, the more consumers will expect transparency in materials and fabrics, real craftsmanship and added value that allows those brands to stand out from other competitors,” Moussy said.

Case in point: Morrison noted that while he succumbs to the convenience of fast fashion every now and then, he prefers to spend more money on items that have “a sense of exclusivity, as well as guaranteed high-quality craftsmanship.”

In September, Swedish clothing label COS debuted its first New York Fashion Week runway collection to an audience that included Anderson .Paak, Angus Cloud and Emily Ratajkowski with a cast of supermodels including Paloma Elsesser. During the show, the retailer launched eveningwear, with dresses and accessories priced at around £200.

Showing during fashion week is a way for fast fashion brands to “build brand identity,” Batilla said. “Unlike other players, COS has a strong brand identity.”

Cos RTW Fall 2022 Collection

A look at the Fall 2022 collection from Cos.

George Chinsee / WWD

Today, high-end retailers seek the relevance and proximity to customers that high-end brands enjoy. To get there, brands are not only raising prices, but also working towards more sustainable practices.

Last month Zara said it was entering the resale market with the aim of helping customers repair, resell or recycle their clothes. During the pandemic, the second-hand market reached its peak, as people began to buy more consciously and value what they already owned. According to Boston Consulting Group, by 2022 the estimated value of the market is between 100 billion and 120 billion dollars worldwide.

Zara Second Hand Repair Resale Sustainability Program.

Zara’s “Seminew” program.

Courtesy of Zara

Morrison said she has recently “spent more time and energy trying to find second-hand pieces in thrift or vintage stores.”

Such new services could help fast fashion brands “acquire a more prestigious image,” Moussy said. And in the future, companies could “eventually split their offering into two ranges: a first mass-market range, accessible because of their reasonable prices, and a second, higher-end range with a promise of higher-value clothing,” Moussy noted.

The line is thin between a strategic marketing move and a change to truly elevate the brand as one that is more aware of sustainable and social practices. But some fast fashion brands are moving forward with greener production, eco-friendly lines and supply chain transparency.

Zara, for example, has said that by 2025 all of its linen and polyester fabrics will be sustainable, and by 2030 H&M has said that it will recycle all of its products. Mango aims to use 100 percent sustainable cotton and 50 percent recycled polyester in its collections by 2025.

“The example of the Massimo Dutti coat is perfect to understand how it is not important that it is good or bad,” said Batilla. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re talking about.”



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