Fashion’s Need for Speed

Focusing on the Right Factors to Reduce Lead Times.

need for speed

Speed to market has become the key profit driver in today’s ‘see now, buy now’ fashion business context.  Waiting for one more week can lead to missed trend opportunities. In short, speed is value. Speed is profitability.  Many fashion companies have responded to this challenge by shortening their design-to-production process, but this has killed creativity and product quality as a result.

How can fashion companies improve their speed to market without experiencing trade-offs? The trick is to focus on production agility and get closer to the consumer by adopting a non-traditional approach.  

Read this e-guide to find out more about:

  • The new definition of speed to market. Speed=Agility=Profitability
  • The different kinds of business models that exist in today’s business context
  • What we can learn from the most successful/fastest players
  • The right factors to focus on to improve time to market

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Luxury brands aren't the only companies struggling to keep up with big-name retailers such as Gap and J.Crew. With the rise of fast fashion, Gap's revenue is stagnating at $16 billion, while Zara has earned twice as much since 2006.2 It has become apparent, in this consumer-driven world, that speed is no longer just a plus, but the main factor that distinguishes the winners from the rest. Waiting for one more week might lead to missed trend opportunities. In short, speed is value3. Speed is profitability. Studies have shown that the slightest improvement in speed can translate into bigger profit margins4. According to a 2018 study5 on the top 20 performers carried out by McKinsey & Company and Women’s Wear Daily, these fashion companies have made speed to market a main focus, delivering items to market in less than six-eight weeks6. 



Most fashion companies have mainly focused on cutting down the time spent on design and product  development processes, but this has killed creativity and quality as a result, to which Raf Simons and  Alber Elbaz have alluded. The 2017 State of Fashion7 report by Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company states that due to the pressure of speed, fashion has become one big revolving door, with creative directors going in and out, for big brands such as Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and Brioni. Alleged plagiarism has been on a rise since then. What most companies tend to overlook, however, is that it’s not just about shortening the design-to-production process, it’s about using the latest innovations to gain supply-chain flexibility and respond to changes quickly. Agility gives you speed. Hence, flexibility is value.