Fast Fashion: A better path to smart supply chain management?

One of the hot topics recently on RetailWire (and on the podcast link posted above) is the impact of “fast fashion” on more conventionally managed American retailers. It’s not just about buying trend-right apparel closer to peak demand, but also about sourcing these goods closer to home. The higher costs may be more than offset by “getting it right” and better cash flow, too. Here’s my comment from a recent RetailWire panel discussion:

Many stores (JCP and Kohl’s among them) have taken a page from “fast fashion” retailers by developing their own quick-response brands, such as MNG and Elle. There is still a place for overseas production of more predictable apparel items, such as opening price knit tops, but it’s worth striking a balance.

The biggest opportunity for “fast fashion” is in the specialty arena, where some retailers continue to place big early bets on key items — some specialists were loaded with plaid last fall and the clearance racks are still full. It’s well worth considering the cost savings of long-lead time production vs. the cost of money and — most important — the cost of a bad bet.

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