In Weather Responsiveness, Fast Fashion is Missing the Boat


A summer look from Zara — what the people want, and apparently can’t get.

Britain is in the middle of a heat wave (we had our own on the East Coast, but thankfully it didn’t last long enough to highlight retail missteps) and, curiously, no one seems to be able to find anything to wear.  Consumers are looking for summer gear at a time when retailers are putting out fall clothing.

Yeah yeah, you say.  We’re used to this.  Every year, next season’s deliveries seem to show up earlier.  Soon it’ll be Christmas in July, etc.  The thing is that with extreme weather changes, stores need to change the way they do business, even if the traditional retail schedule dictates otherwise.  What makes particularly little sense, Bloomberg reports, is that the British branches of companies like H&M, Zara, and Marks & Spencer are continuing to get fall deliveries, marking down what’s left of summer inventory, and running out of current season looks.   And it’s hot as all get out, and no one wants or can use the new, cold weather stuff.

Nobody expects couture to adjust its schedule for the weather (and its clients are probably impervious to climate change, anyway).  But what’s the point of fast fashion if it can’t actually move fast enough to respond to its shoppers’ climate-driven needs?   For smarter retailers, there’s an opportunity here — they should be using their short production turnaround times and massive design teams to run short re-issues of, at the very least, their in-season hits that have just sold out.  Bet the first retailer to do this right and advertise it well will make a killing.