- Marjorie van Elven |
The most promising fashion companies of our times seem to be at opposite sides of a spectrum. On the one hand, we have consumers and industry leaders arguing that the fashion industry needs to move beyond fast fashion. They expect brands to produce more ethically and sustainably, while advocating the benefits of consuming less, renting clothes, and buying second hand. If you absolutely need to shop, then look for quality, not quantity, and give preference to colors and silhouettes that will survive the test of time.
On the other hand, we have ultrafast fashion: direct-to-consumer online brands like Fashion Nova, Missguided and Boohoo, which offer constant newness for cheap. Like what you saw Kim Kardashian wear on Instagram today? Thanks to these retailers, you can have a similar outfit in a matter of days for under 50 US dollars. Social and environmental issues do not concern the type of consumer who buys from these brands, all that matters is being on trend -- and, in the era of social media, trends change in the blink of an eye.
Of all the ultrafast fashion brands, Fashion Nova is by far the most impactful. Offering between 600 and 900 new styles each week, the LA-based label founded by Richard Saghian was Google’s most-searched in the United States in 2018. With over 15 million Instagram followers, Fashion Nova is also Instagram’s top-performing fashion brand, according to marketing research firm InfluencerDB, which says the American label has more exposure and user engagement on Instagram than Zara and H&M combined.
What makes it so successful? To find the answer to that question, retail analytics firm Edited compared the brand to ultrafast fashion competitors Boohoo and Forever 21. Commenting on the research, Edited’s market analyst Kayla Marci told FashionUnited via email: “what stood out when researching this topic was, despite the fashion industry's strides to shift into more 'slow and sustainable' business practices, Fashion Nova has not altered its strategy of ultracheap and ultrafast fashion”. There is still demand for it, fast fashion is far from gone. FashionUnited summarizes Edited's findings below.
Rate of newness
“There’s fast, then there’s Fashion Nova fast”, says Edited on its website. The label works with over 1,000 manufacturers, most of them located in Los Angeles, who whip up samples in approximately 24 hours from the original concept, which are then photograph-ready for the in-house models within another 24 hours. As if such a speed wasn’t enough, the company also expands its assortment by offering each style in several colorways. Consequently, Fashion Nova is far ahead of its competitors when it comes to the volume of products released each week.
Other online retailers are already speeding up to try and catch up with Fashion Nova. “US fast fashion retailers have hit peak newness and speed-to-market, which draws attention to Fashion Nova's lightening-fast processes”, said Marci.
Fashion Nova encourages its customers to buy at full price as 95 percent of its products retail for less than 50 US dollars -- a similar pricing structure to Boohoo and Forever 21, but Fashion Nova manages to sell some product categories for even cheaper, such as jeans and crop tops.
Fashion Nova also stands out for its size range, which goes from XS to 3X, something that not all retailers offer. According to Edited, 39 percent of Fashion Nova’s pieces are also available in bigger sizes, compared to 12 percent for Boohoo and 10 percent for Forever 21.
What's more, Fashion Nova is investing heavily to extend its plus size offering even more, having increased the number of plus size styles by 35 percent in the past three months, compared to the three months prior. As the number of overweight and obese adults increases in the US, one can expect the demand for plus size clothing to increase accordingly, which makes Fashion Nova’s move a smart one.
The availability of plus sizes is also extended to Fashion Nova’s recently-launched menswear line. Some styles go up to size 4X.
Fashion Nova invests heavily in social media marketing. In addition to posting every 30 minutes on its Instagram profile and creating separate accounts for its menswear and plus size ranges, the label frequently teams up with influencers big and small by sending them free clothes or buying sponsored posts. The most famous of these influencers is rapper Cardi B, with whom Fashion Nova launched an apparel line in May. According to Edited, the collection sold out in 9 days. Fashion Nova also has a team of community managers sharing customers’ selfies wearing their clothes on the brand’s Facebook page and responding to each and every follower commenting on its posts or tagging the company on social media.
Pictures: Fashion Nova website, courtesy of Edited