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What Retailers Can Learn From Fast Fashion Problems

By Tiffany Tran  •  May 17, 2016


What Retailers Can Learn From Fast Fashion Problems

Posted by: Tiffany Tran on May 17, 2016

In recent years, fast fashion stores like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara have been stealing a good portion of sales from traditional fashion retailers.

Macy's, for example, a store that had a solid footing in fashion is now on its way to closing 36 stores this year. Other stores like Nordstrom, American Apparel, Wet Seal, and Kohl's are facing similar struggles as well.

We often hear how fast fashion is killing the game or how traditional fashion isn’t doing so well but what we don't often hear about is where fast fashion retailers are lacking.

With the help of social media data, there are a few things that all retailers can learn from fast fashion’s shortcomings.

Be ethical to your workers. Near or far.

Since the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, H&M and a few other retailers vowed to take a stronger stance on creating safe conditions for workers over in Bangladesh.

As a result, partners with H&M are now required to sign its code of conduct to ensure its commitment to sustainability.


However, within the past two years, problems with operating factories in Bangladesh still seem to be very prevalent within the conversation.

The most recent fire happened this past February and highlighted the fact that H&M’s standards on safety are still inadequate, something that many consumers noted on social media.


Simplify the shopping experience.

Forever 21 does not skip out on an opportunity to diversify its offerings.

In most stores, you can find clothing and accessories for women, men, plus-size, kids, and even random knick knacks peppered throughout the wait-to-pay aisles. 


For the most part, Forever 21 covers all the bases for fashion necessities.

However, when people discuss loving Forever 21, they also follow it with a “but” that generally revolves around how the stores are so cluttered and unorganized (i.e. ‘I love Forever 21 but the store is always so messy).

The most common feeling consumers express is  anxiety.

Why? Because consumers feel like they aren’t able to easily find what they need and are often overwhelmed by the store.


Perceptions of product detail is so key.

If you Google “most offensive products in retail,” you’ll find the example of Zara’s sweatshirt amongst the top photos and links. Consumers saw the sweatshirt as a resemblance to concentration-camp uniforms instead of the Old West theme Zara was aiming for.



The negative topic for Zara within the past two years remains this gigantic and highly offensive blunder. There have been over 30,944 reblogs on just Tumblr since posted in 2014.


What retailers can learn from fast fashion downfalls

As the fashion retail industry continues to evolve, both fast and traditional fashion will have to keep an eye out for ways to improve customer experiences.

Based on the examples identified above, retailers should:

  1. Highlight good ethics in working conditions and pay for its laborers
  2. Be more thoughtful and organized when it comes to the shopper’s experience
  3. Increase their awareness of social and cultural sensitivities

Keeping these three things in mind, retailers will likely be able to capture and improve relationships with new, old, and current customers.

Need more? We think you'll love this content, too.

 Get a look at our data and see how consumers talked about fast fashion online in the last 30 days.

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Topics: retail, fashion


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