Fashion is no longer dujour – that day – it’s second.
Online platforms use real-time data and analytics to microtarget what they buy and what they wear.
And the huge multinationals that are currently pacing are the ones you may not know.
Shein is a multi-billion dollar Chinese garment company focused solely on exports. There is an unconventional structure and approach. Some are Amazon-like distribution services, some are TaskRabbit-style labor exchanges, and the features and sensibilities of social media gaming platforms overlap.
For many fans, it’s a form of hyperpersonalization, where people find the makers that make it to suit their clothing tastes.
However, the critics say Shein has already supercharged the ultra-fast clothing sector, significantly reducing the time from purchase to landfill.
Shein currently accounts for about 28% of total US fast fashion sales, with a larger market share than the combined brands of established brands Zara and H & M.
Fast fashion is the mass production and distribution of low-priced clothing with highly fashionable designs.
However, Shein is different from its competitors because it creates and sells new clothing styles, but does not hire designers and avoids seasonal lines.
“It works almost like a market, more like Amazon than a physical brand,” says research journalist Megan Tobin. An outlet for non-profit technical journalism based in New York.
Shein’s method is to look for new fashion trends online and use their vast supplier network to produce a small number of garments in a short period of time. This allows the app to offer literally thousands of new clothing options every day.
But that’s just part of the story.
With a direct link to the supplier chain, Shein can also make large manufacturing decisions quickly.
“When something really starts to sell, they increase the production of that particular item really fast,” says Tobin.
“This will allow the company to respond to social media, TikTok and Instagram trends much faster than traditional fast fashion (brands).”
A brand that is still driven primarily by the designer’s vision and runway trends.
Matsakis states that real-time data processing is the key to understanding the rise of Shein. She says each of the thousands of new products they offer online every day is treated as a “mini-experiment.”
“When people think about fashion, they often think about taste, style, and its Genesis Quay,” she says.
The company hasn’t been interested in being “high-end” so far, instead focusing on garments that aren’t technically sophisticated.
“I don’t see any craftsmanship or innovative design. It’s a number game. They want to know what they can sell quickly and what they can sell to as many viewers as possible.” Matsakis adds.
Can the world afford it?
Another factor in Shein’s rapid growth is how it reflects the increasingly game-like nature of social media, says Matsakis.
“They have this point system where they can earn Shein credits by leaving reviews and interacting with different aspects of the platform,” she says.
She points out that while that form of e-commerce is well-developed in China, it is still novel and attractive to Western consumers.
“I don’t want to stay in the Amazon app. The idea is to fill the cart, get what you need, and live your life. Meanwhile, companies like Shein and Alibaba are trying to make shopping fun. Join us with your friends, “she says.
According to Tobin, the Shein model is currently emulated by Cider, an app that is heavily backed by other companies, especially US venture capital firms marketed as “social fast fashion brands.”
Next is ally Likes, launched by Chinese tech giant Alibaba.
However, as data-driven fashion brands continue to look for new fans, questions are being asked about the potential sacrifices that hyperpersonalized fashion can make to the environment and working conditions.
Even the companies themselves are responding to concerns.
For example, Cider argues that a trend-responsive approach helps minimize waste and keep the supply chain sustainable. Similarly, Tobin says workers in the Chinese garment industry report that Shane is “paying enough” on time.
“It’s not that labor practices are terrible in all situations, but if you’re integrating literally thousands of factories behind the supply chain, it’s very difficult to do due diligence across them all.” She adds.
Meanwhile, garment production continues to skyrocket, says Julie Balton of the Institute for Sustainability Development at Monash University.
She estimates that Australia alone wastes about 6,000 kilograms of fiber every 10 minutes and produces more than 100 billion garments worldwide each year.
“It’s huge, it’s really huge. Around the world between 2000 and 2014 … the number of clothes purchased per person increased by 60 percent. And … we need to stop. [think] Maybe that’s not what we should do. “
Very different directions
One of the fundamental alternatives to the excess of fast fashion is to rethink the meaning of fashion itself, prioritizing design and effectiveness over textiles and materials.
Like Shane, Myami Studio focuses on the endless fashion demands of teenagers and young adults, especially the desires of potential Instagram fanatics and influencers.
However, a very small startup based in Sydney produces clothes that they don’t wear much, as they look like they’re wearing them.
“As a company, we trade pixels globally, not textiles, through the Metaverse Marketplace and digital fashion productions,” said co-founder Brad Morris.
“The concept of digital fashion is actually to have items that can be worn in different environments, so it could be something as simple as a zoom call or Google Hangouts to social media to change lenses. .. [Or] For example, you can extend the game skins running around Call of Duty and Fortnite to a gaming environment that we all know. “
Morris admits that the current market for virtual fashion is still in its infancy, but he says well-known players are now transforming this space.
“I saw Gucci launching the Virtual 25. It was a sneaker drop that was only available as a digital fashion piece. I’ve seen Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and more recently Adidas enter into digital fashion through collaboration. I did.
“With this wave of adoption from fashion houses, we are also starting to launch native Web3 brands.”
The future Morris envisions is for people to digitally change the look of their clothes online, much like changing the background used during a zoom call.
Logic may be questioned given that computer servers have a significant impact on energy demand, but he says it is ultimately good for the environment.
“We reduce carbon dioxide emissions during the design and sampling innovation process, which is early in the fashion process,” says Morris.
“It also has the advantage of starting to reduce production costs in time to market.”
Unless the law on nudity in public changes changes, fashion lovers need something physically substantial in streetwear.
Morris says it’s actually a plus.
“We are certainly looking at the connection between physical fashion and digital fashion, so you can own a digital or digital twin that supports physical fashion.
“But if you own a digital piece, you can … also create a physical piece.
“Therefore, these two things are closely related. They are based on the environment and use case or application, not either or both.”
So, in industry terms, it’s probably a small combination.
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