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SECTOR FOCUS How fast fashion moved online – and where it goes next

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Buying clothes online has long been derided as a non-starter: surely shoppers want to try them on, touch them and see how they fit? Well, like everything, the pandemic has changed that. Now the fast fashion market is very much being driven by online sales, which has seen the sector experience an extreme shake up.

How this has happened, what seismic changes it has wrought and where the fashion sector is heading is all dealt with in RetailX’s Fast Fashion 2021 sector report, which should be at the top of your summer reading list.

The fast fashion sector was estimated to be worth around $36bn globally in 2019 and was on track to hit around $43bn by 2029 – and growth is coming from those players that already had a strong online presence.

Those that didn’t, such as Topshop and Forever21, are no longer in business. Pureplays such as ASOS and Zalando are increasingly expanding their physical presence, while the giants of fast fashion – H&M and Inditex – are investing heavily in omnichannel, which is where growth will come from post-pandemic.

China leads the way in fast fashion growth, with a burgeoning mobile-centric middle class and an online shopping habit that sees digital account for more than half of all retail sales.

But ethical and environmental issues are reshaping the industry, with post-pandemic consumers looking to buy fewer items but wanting those items to be ethically and sustainably produced.

Data, AI, mobile, social media and AR are all key technologies that the fast fashion sector must embrace in order to drive growth post-pandemic.

All this – and more – is covered in great and entertaining detail in the RetailX Fast Fashion 2021 report, which is well worth a read.

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