Do Fast Fashion Retailers Follow Runway Trends?

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It is a universally acknowledged truth that fast fashion retailers look towards fashion designers as inspiration for their future collections.

And why wouldn’t they? In the past, fashion shows were often closed off to the mass consumer, but in this age of information – even the average joe will have some concept of key fashion periods and access to all the looks shown on every runway. This has created a demand amongst mass consumers for in-trend apparel and who better to meet those demands than fast fashion retailers?

Yet in the last few years we have seen seismic changes in technology that has had ripple affects throughout the fashion industry. Even celebrities, both traditional and social media grown, are launching their own collections of make-up and clothing.

So, are luxury brands still the main point of reference for fast fashion retailers or are they looking elsewhere for inspiration?

During last year’s Spring/Summer 2018 fashion month, major fashion gurus such as Vogue, WWD and Harpers Bazaar identified these trends as the most featured of designer collections:


Based on the array of patterns showcased on the runway, the most prominent patterns featured were Sequins, Stripes and Plaids/Checks.

From Left: Monse, Victoria Beckham, Gucci

According to Vogue, these are predicted to be Spring/Summer 2018’s most coveted colours as featured by designers:


From Left: Peter Pilotto, Michael Kors, Gucci, Anna Sui, Moschino


From Left: Tadashi Shoji, Tadashi Shoji, Coach, Tibi


From Left: Tom Ford, Ralph & Russo, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph & Russo


From Left: Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino, Kiton, Valentino


From Left: Marc Jacobs, Marta Jakubowski, Lacoste,Marc Jacobs


From Left: Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Georges Hobeika, Fendi


How did fast fashion retailers respond to the Spring/Summer 2018 collection? We analysed the stock assortments of two brands – Zara and Forever 21 – both known for their fast turnaround speeds on Omnilytics to see if there were visible changes between the peak of the 2017 Autumn/Winter season to the start of the 2018 spring/summer season.

Sequins Were Sizzled Out

Whilst seen in most luxury designer collections, it seemed Sequins were not favourable in terms of stock count for both Zara and Forever 21. At Zara, 22 in relevance to its total 12,665 SKUs marked only 0.17% of their total SKUs. In addition,  they chose to reduce that amount to 16 SKUs for their January/February collection, indicating a choice of not following this featured trend.

Forever 21 was the same, where stock was reduced from 86 to 80 SKUs. Perhaps the change in stock reflected the upcoming festive season and the need for glitzy clothing, especially during the months of November – December.

A Varied Take on Checks

With Checks there seemed to be differing opinions on whether this trend would appeal to mass consumers. Zara only recorded 8 SKUs during the November – December period and it remained constant throughout their Spring collection in January – February.

However, Forever 21 saw an increase in Check SKUs from 97 to 151 SKUs, indicating that the retailer was introducing more Checks to its collection for Spring 2018. Yet it should be noted that even at 151 SKUs, Checks only made up about 0.6% of Forever 21’s total SKUs – a conservative amount in relevance to its massive 26,626 total SKUs.

Stripes Stayed Strong

Interestingly, both Zara and Forever 21 chose to increase their SKUs for Stripes as seen in the chart above. While this could be an indication of both retailers increasing their stock in correspondence to the Spring/Summer 2018 trend, it’s important to note that Stripes were stocked conservatively in comparison to their total SKUs.

Let’s look at the numbers. Zara’s Stripes collection only make up 1.6% of their total SKUs, while at Forever 21, it was a meager 0.9%. Could this imply a lack of confidence of Stripes ever appealing to mass consumers?

Colours Performed Best

For Spanish retailer, Zara, there was a clear increase in product count for trending colours, predicted during the Spring/Summer season.

The same was evident for American classic, Forever 21.

The obvious increase in SKUs for colours is evidence that retailers follow trends exhibited on runways. Perhaps it’s because colours are a more “neutral” and versatile selection in comparison to collections with specific designs and patterns.

The Key Take-Away

Based on the findings above, it is evident that fast fashion retailers do follow some trends featured on major runway, albeit selectively. Colour trends are more likely to be adopted as compared to patterns, providing consumers with more versatile options and a higher sellout rate. Yet fast fashion retailers still continue stocking up on in-trend items, perhaps to meet the demands of the fashion conscious consumer.

Keen to know if it’s worth following the runway for your next collection? Drop us an email at and we’ll be in touch!

The data above was obtained from Omnilytics, real-time retail data platform. The numbers and statistics may vary, as the platform is updated every day. The time period of the information taken were between November 1st 2017 to February 28th 2018.