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The Big Problems with Fast Fashion

This week, everyone will be talking about online retailer Asos' latest results and fashion weeks in Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo. Get your BoF Professional Cheat Sheet.
Asos website | Source: Shutterstock
By
  • Brian Baskin
BoF PROFESSIONAL

THE CHEAT SHEET

Fast Fashion's Woes Move Online

Source: Asos

  • Asos reports fourth quarter and full-year results on October 16
  • The company has issued two profit warnings since December, tied to logistical problems outside its UK home market
  • Asos shares are down about 50 percent in the last year
Forever 21’s bankruptcy sparked a lot of talk about how online fast fashion retailers are swallowing the low-end apparel market whole, but some of the biggest e-commerce players are struggling as well. Asos issued a profit warning in July and shook up its board earlier this month. It blames problems at a new warehouse meant to support an ambitious US expansion; instead, out-of-stock items and shipping delays hurt sales. One of the new board members is the CEO of Ocado Solutions, an e-commerce logistics platform, indicating Asos still sees work to do on the backend. The company can't afford any more missteps, with rival Boohoo surging and incumbents Zara and H&M investing heavily in e-commerce.
The Bottom Line:  Online fast fashion is primed for disruption, too, from rapidly growing peer-to-peer secondhand marketplaces. Why buy fast fashion when slightly better, if slightly used items are available on Depop?  

Asia’s Jumbled Fashion Calendar

Hare's Fall/Winter 2019 collection | Source: Tokyo Fashion Week

  • Shanghai Fashion Week runs through October 16
  • Seoul Fashion Week runs October 14-19, Tokyo Fashion Week runs October 14-20
  • Rakuten replaces Amazon as the sponsor of Tokyo Fashion Week
Asia’s three biggest fashion weeks have taken steps to evolve from purely local affairs to global events. But one obstacle remains: an overlapping schedule. Shanghai has gone the furthest to differentiate itself, with showrooms and trade shows providing a major draw alongside the runway shows. Rakuten replacing Amazon as Tokyo Fashion Week’s title sponsor also signals new ambitions both for the Japanese e-commerce giant and the country's fashion industry. Rakuten was brought in to boost awareness of the week both inside and outside of Japan, while boosting its own credibility as a destination for fashion. 

The Bottom Line: A powerful local sponsor should help boost Tokyo Fashion Week's profile, though the overlap with Seoul and Shanghai distracts from that goal.

- Zoe Suen contributed to this report

SUNDAY READING

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