This is the Wednesday NEWSletter where I break down a few fashion news stories you should know about this week and why. The fashion industry has a lot of news, and not all of it makes it into the mainstream. Fashion often tells one side of a larger story, and usually, it impacts us all.
More details about the inner workings of Shein’s super fast fashion model have come to light this week. New reporting by Louise Matskais, Meaghan Tobin, and Wency Chen for Rest of the World highlights how the brand has used strategic tech to beat out its competitors and bring trends to the market faster than ever. According to the report, after Amazon built a business model selling directly from Chinese factories, many of them began to learn more about the Western consumer. But once Amazon began to crack down on counterfeiting, banning thousands of sellers, Shein found a new market. “Rather than mimicking Amazon directly, Shein grew by bringing traits of China’s gamified e-commerce market to the rest of the world,” they explain.
Manufacturers told Rest of the World that internal software was a huge part of the business, making it easier for factories to up the styles they are making quickly. “You can see the current sales, and then it will tell you to stock up more if you sell well and what you need to do if you don’t sell well. It’s all there,” Lin Zhen, a clothing manufacturer tells them. This has led to both rapid growth in revenue for Shein and a ridiculous amount of garments flooding the market.
One of the most fascinating pieces of this report, and one that I think needs the most attention, is how Shein is rethinking trends. They are not looking to runway trends and trickling them down the market, and instead are searching TikTok and social media to make smaller amounts of styles more often. This practice makes it so that virtually anyone looking for any style can find something tailored to them. It’s dangerous because it makes knee-jerk consumption that much easier – something that we have to be aware of as consumers.
On Monday, Chanel announced that Leena Nair, an executive from Unilever, will be the new CEO of the brand. While executive level shake ups aren’t necessarily the most thrilling new story, what’s interesting is that Nair is being labeled by many outlets as a “fashion outsider.” In my opinion, outsiders are exactly what the industry needs. For decades, people have been begging the industry to shift toward inclusion, but what does that mean for people so dedicated to keeping fashion a small circle of an exclusive few?
Fashion brands are embracing the Metaverse and already making money from it. According to Bloomberg, virtual clothing has brands excited by the “all-profit” model being offered to them on a silver platter. There is little overhead (no materials), the ability to repurpose already-created designs (decades of collections that haven’t been made digital) and no extra product (a huge problem within the supply chain). And before you think to yourself, “why would anyone spend on something they can’t wear?” just think about how we live our lives digitally.
Gucci has sold bags for more than a real one costs, some digital department stores are making sales of up to $10,000 at a time, and Nike just purchased a company that makes NFTs and digital sneakers. The brands know the market is there, and they don’t want to be caught ten steps behind like they were when online shopping first came around.