Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to acknowledge that designs move from catwalk to store in the fastest time to capture current trends in the market. This has developed from a product driven concept based on a manufacturing model referred to as "quick response" developed in the U.S. in the 1980s  and moved to a market based model of "fast fashion" in the late 1990s and first part of the 21st century.
Fast fashion is a term used to describe clothing collections which are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Week in both the spring and the autumn of every year. These trends are designed and manufactured quickly and cheaply to allow the mainstream consumer to take advantage of current clothing styles at a lower price.
This philosophy of quick manufacturing at an affordable price is used in large retailers such as H&M, Zara , and Topshop .
Fast fashion Zara is a Spanish clothing and accessories retailer based in Arteixo, Galicia, and founded in 1975 by Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera. It is the flagship chain store of the Inditex group; the fashion group also owns brands such as Massimo Dutti, Pull and Bear, Oysho, Uterqüe, Stradivarius and Bershka.It is claimed that Zara needs just two weeksto develop a new product and get it to stores, compared to the six-month industry average, and launches around 10,000 new designs each year.
H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB (operating as H&M) is a Swedish retail-clothing company, known for its fast-fashion clothing offerings for women, men, teenagers and children.It has over 2,300 stores in 41 countries and as of 2011 employed around 87,000 people.
The design team in the company’s Sweden office controls the steps of production from merchandise planning to establishing specifications, and production is outsourced to approximately 800 factories in Europe and Asia. These facilities are used for horizontal division of labor rather than being integrated.
Topshop is a British clothes retailer with stores in over 20 countries and online operations in some of its markets. Topshop's sales primarily come from women's clothing and fashion accessories. It is part of the Arcadia Group, which owns a number of other retail outlets including Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge.
The chain was founded in 1964 as Peter Robinson's Top Shop, a young-persons' fashion brand within the Sheffield branch of the Peter Robinson Ltd ladies fashion store chain(former department store chain). The first stand-alone Topshop store was opened in 1974. In 1978, Topman was created as a spin-off brand to cater for male customers and is now run as a separate chain, although some stores are co-located.
Quick Response (QR) was developed to improve manufacturing processes in the textile industry with the aim of removing time from the production system.The U.S. Apparel Manufacturing Association initiated the project in the early 1980s to address a competitive threat to its own textile manufactur During the project lead times in the manufacturing process were halved; the U.S. industry became more competitive for a time, and imports were lowered as a result. The QR initiative was viewed by many as a protection mechanism for the American textile industry with the aim of improving manufacturing efficiencies.
Marketing is the key driver of fast fashion. Marketing creates the desire for consumption of new designs as close as possible to the point of creation. This is achieved by promoting fashion consumption as something fast, low price and disposable. The fast fashion business model is based on reducing the time cycles from production to consumption such that consumers engage in more cycles in any time period. For example, the traditional fashion seasons followed the annual cycle of summer, autumn, winter and spring but in fast fashion cycles have compressed into shorter periods of 4–6 weeks and in some cases less than this. Marketers have thus created more buying seasons in the same time-space.
Supply chains are central to the creation of fast fashion. Supply chain systems are designed to add value and reduce cost in the process of moving goods from design concept to retail stores and finally through to consumption. Efficient supply chains are critical to delivering the retail customer promise of fast fashion. The selection of a merchandising vendor is a key part in the process. Inefficiency primarily occurs when suppliers can't respond quickly enough, and clothing ends up bottlenecked and in back stock. Two kinds of supply chains exist, agile and lean. In an agile supply chain the principal characteristics include the sharing of information and technology.[
Productive internal relationships within the fast fashion companies are as important as the company's relationships with external suppliers, especially when it comes to the company's buyers. Traditionally with a "supermarket" market the buying is divided into multi-functional departments. The buying team uses the bottom-up approach when trend information is involved, meaning the information is only shared with the company's fifteen top suppliers.On the other hand, information about future aims, and strategies of production are shared downward within the buyer hierarchy so the team can consider lower cost production options.