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5 Things Fast Fashion Brands Are Doing Well

Oline Abildstrom

We all know them. These are the brands that are able to keep up with the ever-changing and competitive landscape of fashion– quickly moving from one trend to the next, week after week.

Today, we’ll be doing a deep dive into some of the most successful brands in this field to explore what they are doing well.

H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Missguided are among the brands that constantly update their collections. As there is so much more product for consumers to choose a lower price point, people don’t hold back on buying – and buying a lot.

Fast-fashion brands are really good at reaching and interacting with their target audience and giving them what they want at the blink of an eye. They also typically have a knack for listening to and interacting with their customers, especially across social media, which helps them to learn from mistakes and give the crowd exactly what they are asking for. We talked about the impact of acceleration on e-commerce recently so if you haven’t seen it already, give it a read!  

Without further ado, let’s dive into 5 things fast fashion brands are doing well!

Be conscious and transparent – H&M

With increasing focus on sustainability and consumer awareness becoming more common, fast fashion brands are taking a closer look at their production processes – from sourcing materials to the recycling of old inventory.

Fast fashion doesn’t have to mean “anything goes” for the sake of speeding up production and lowering costs. H&M has made an active effort in improving their sustainability practices, not only because consumers are asking for it, but also because they realize just how important it is for the environment.
With its Swedish origin, it comes as no surprise that H&M takes inspiration from its roots as the most sustainable country in the world.

Being open and transparent is a great move, especially as millennials are  60% more faithful to companies who make them part of a community.

H&M accepted the Freedom House Reward at the end of April for their leadership in advancing global supply chain transparency. As a global company, they were among the first to adopt the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, as well as making their list of supplier factories public. H&M was in fact the very first to also disclose information on who their 2nd tier suppliers are, setting an example for the fashion industry, promoting transparency. 

“To create decent jobs in the supply chain, transparency is crucial. I hope that our commitment to transparency will lead to a healthier fashion industry, but also to more informed customers pressuring companies to act sustainably,” – Stefan Persson, Chairman of the board H&M group.

Tailor what you offer with Geo location – Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters used location marketing to target a specific audience and it paid off massively. In fact, when they targeted women that frequent bars and nightclubs with a cocktail dress promotion, they managed to increase their conversion rate by 75%!
There were many different aspects of this campaign that made it successful – from in-app notifications with emojis, which UO partner Appboy has found to be very effective, to deep linking. 

Urban Outfitters App

Another way Urban Outfitters is connecting with their target audience is through social. They run something called UOrealtalks where they feature different inspirational people and share video content about them. Teaming up with people who fit their vibe and making them long-term ambassadors works if they aren’t too mainstream. This strategy maintains the brand’s image as the unique and quirky company they are known to be. 

Using influencers not only to promote products, but also to tell your brand’s story is an effective way to create a more sincere presence.

Create a feel of exclusivity – Zara

Zara is a well-known brand that spends much less than the average brand on their marketing efforts. They are masters of the fast fashion trends, where their aim is not to be first but rather fast, in the way that they get a lot of inspiration from popular high-end pieces and then can “ride the trend wave” – having new clothing hit stores only two weeks after the look hits the runway. You might think that fast fashion isn’t very exclusive, but with new collections constantly hitting stores, they are also only releasing a certain amount of each item. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and then they’re on to the next thing. It means that customers will often return in order to stay on trend without paying the price of the luxury version of the item.

While they might not seem to spend a ton of budget on traditional marketing, there seems to be more focus on online and social media marketing. A key factor in their marketing is location, location, location. Having multiple stores in all the right cities and aiming for popular areas closer to higher-end brands likely causes the consumer to associate Zara with the surrounding stores. 

Dear Mumbai, our new flagship store at Flora Fountain has bloomed #zaraopening #dearmumbai

A post shared by ZARA Official (@zara) on

An example of Zara’s customer-focused, in-store experience is the use of an app called InWallet (currently only available in Spain), which allows users to pay with the app using QR codes in all Inditex stores. It is easy and convenient for the buyers as the app also stores all past receipts, but also a great opportunity for Zara to get even more data on consumer behavior.
If you decide to pay a visit to the newly opened store in Madrid, that happens to be the biggest in the world, you will find fitting rooms equipped with iPads.

worlds largest Zara store Madrid

Most of us have probably been in the situation of trying something on only to find out it’s not the right size or fit. Usually you’re left with two options: you try to get the attention of the staff wearing nothing but underwear – or you get fully dressed and go out to find another size, only to find that you have to line up once more! Those days are gone as you can now request another size or item, so that an instant notification of your request from the iPad is sent directly to an employee’s Apple Watch, allowing them to quickly grab what you need from the floor and bring it right to you. Whilst it’s something currently only available in Spain, this is supposedly going to be introduced to other locations.

Turn buyers into ambassadors – Forever21

Forever21 has truly managed to engage their 13 million Instagram followers. Their hashtag #f21xme has been used over 400k times and features people wearing their clothes. This creates a really personal connection with the target audience, and creates an opportunity for real customers to turn into natural brand ambassadors. 

💕 #F21xMe

A post shared by Mónica Murillo (@moniliz_murillo) on

Bloggers Faves” is a part of their website entirely dedicated to featuring bloggers and influencers wearing Forever21 outfits. It’s a place where buyers can get inspired and dress like their favorite social media crushes. 

Allowing customers to buy as soon as inspiration strikes or as soon as they see a cute outfit is more and more common – social media is a great place for it to happen. Forever21 has made it easy for customers to shop their Instagram feed or to look through their Facebook page, where they even give you separate and dedicated links based on your location. Anything to make it as convenient as possible for the buyers!

Forever21 shop instagram feed

Create an app with hype – Missguided

It’s hard to say the words fast fashion without mentioning this UK brand’s rapid growth! In the past twelve months, Missguided has increased their revenue by 75% to £206 million. As the UK brand gets more and more international, their sales abroad have grown by 130%, making up over 40% of the total business.

Missguided recently took home a lot of awards at the Drapers Digital Festival 2017 including Best App, Best Digital Marketing Campaign and Best Digital Leader.

Their app has been particularly success — four months after it’s launch last year, the revenue run rate from the app went from zero to £30 million. One of the most recognizable features is the “Swipe-To-Hype” that is easily explained as a “Tinder for fashion” landing it a near perfect 4.8 rating on the Appstore.

Missguided swipe-to-hype app

Missguided won the Best Digital Marketing Campaign prize for their Naughty List campaign featuring Baddie Winkle. Another great example of how finding the right influencer for your brand, one that resonates with your audience, is a very powerful thing.


What can we learn from them?

Each of the brands mentioned above has a lesson to teach, something they do exceptionally well. From knowing what the customers want and when they want it, to how best to interact with and learn from customers, to creating a whole new way of showcasing collections in a fast-paced environment, the opportunities for brands are endless. 

Want to know more about the future of fashion? Check out these 4 predictions!

Oline AbildstromMarketing & Content Coordinator

Originally from Denmark, Oline moved around Europe until settling down in London. She has a Fashion background and passion for social media and writing.

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