Published 14 September 2017 Category: Business Insights, Entrepreneur, SMEs

Fast Fashion - Business Model

How a well-planned Business Model Can Help Companies Get Ahead of the Game

Across apparel, footwear, accessories and consumer packaged goods, companies are fighting over the same share of shoppers’ wallets – and fast fashion retailers are coming out on top. Research shows that the business model adopted by leaders in fast fashion is up to four times as profitable as the alternative used by department stores, wholesalers, athletic brands and even specialty retailers.

Why? Because, in a world where almost every other consumer industry is moving to an on-demand model, fast fashion comes the closest to delivering against customer expectations – quality product, quickly – and balances risk and reactivity in a way that allows retailers and their supply chains to respond when circumstances change.

This is why speed to market is on everyone’s lips. When done right, it creates a frenzy! Traditional retailers eye fast fashion with envy, and feel like they could stay in step with their customers if only they could move more quickly. But while faster is better, it’s only part of the puzzle.

The key to understanding why fast fashion is so successful is the concept of “clockspeed,” a term coined twenty years ago at MIT to describe the difference in pace between industries. From market dynamics to internal organisation, the clockspeed of aerospace for example, is measured in years, while traditional fashion is metered in months.

Fast fashion leaders work in weeks, with a clockspeed attuned to the quickening pulse of fashion itself. More than just lightning lead times, their entire business models are oriented around agility; they scan the market for new trends, and build design and supply chain cycles that can respond rapidly.


While the most obvious end result is the ability to translate trends into stock on shelves more quickly than competitors, this clockspeed has compounded benefits. Although the market has become more volatile, traditional retailers still bet big on merchandising up to a year in advance, while fast fashion leaders spread that risk through rapid replenishment and variety. And when they do fail, they fail fast; leading retailers can respond to sales slumps or spikes in real-time, and use their in-built intelligence and agility to inform production in-season.

More than raw speed, this is the lesson of fast fashion. Whether you sell a few select styles, or keep up a steady, season-less flow, agility is essential for matching the clockspeed of modern fashion – which shows no sign of slowing down.

Fast fashion is all about agility. More than just having lightning-fast turnaround times, leading retailers can respond in real-time to changes in the market and have oriented their entire cultures around the clockspeed of modern fashion.