For a sense of the problem, consider what happens when the week-long schedule of shows ends. Designers start making the clothes that retailers have ordered, with delivery scheduled four to six months later. But consumers see collections online instantly. "Fast fashion" shops such as Zara, which is part of Spain's Inditex, rapidly produce clothes "inspired" by what appeared on the runway. When the originals arrive in stores, they feel tired.
This has produced clear winners and losers. The world's two biggest clothes retailers are now Inditex and TJX, according to Euromonitor, a research firm. TJX buys excess inventory of brand-name clothes and resells them at low prices. Traditional department stores, meanwhile, are struggling, partly because outdated frocks and coats languish on racks and then have to be sold at a discount.
The challenge is widely understood. Now the industry is finally starting to deal with it.
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