Fashionista Limited: A Peek into the Fast Fashion Industry
The small sample room tucked away on the tenth floor of Shanghai's Guoson Center is the operating space of Fashionista Limited, a one-stop organisation that provides trend analysis, design and development and fabric and trim sourcing for European and North American retailers. The sample room is filled with racks of flowing blouses and woven sweaters on one end and desks stacked high with patterns, designs and fabrics on the other. Fashionista focuses on producing "fast fashion" casual junior and womenswear, particularly silk-like woven and circular knit garments.
"Fast fashion" is the trend of whisking styles off the runway and to department store racks as quickly as possible. Speed is the name of this game, and retailers pair up with companies like Fashionista to rapidly source trendy yet inexpensive clothing to their stores. Though the name Fashionista Limited may not sound familiar, the company boasts a robust clientele that includes big brands such as Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Macy's and Dillard's and T.J. Maxx.
"With the exception of high-end designer brands, the trend styles in the fast fashion business are very much a 'copy business'", chuckles one of the founders of Fashionista. According to him, clothing companies will often reference their competitors' styles when placing orders for their own stores. He claims British retailer Topshop is a big trendsetter in the fast fashion industry because its styles are continually referred referred to by its competitors.
Though based in Shanghai, Fashionista keeps a sharp eye on the evolution of fashion trends through its Stockholm and New York offices. They also regularly conduct market research by visiting stores and monitoring social media, television shows and styles on the street. This ensures that Fashionista maintains their edge in the industry, and the company staff is unfazed at the rather hectic rate of turning trends. Instead, they fully embrace their motto: "The fact that the fast fashion apparel business is constantly changing will never change."
However, the most commendable aspect of Fashionista is not their impressive clientele nor their global reach: it is the fact that they emphasise environmental and social ethics. One of the many pitfalls of the fast fashion industry is its tendency to cut corners in terms of labor and environmental safety regulations, but Fashionista makes it a point to be firmly against sweatshops and child labor, and they also donate clothing to the charity River of Hearts. The company proves that it is possible to preserve social responsibility while staying relevant in a cutthroat industry.