The trend towards ‘fast fashion’ seen in the clothing industry is increasingly evident in the world of jewellery.
Changes in technology and the growth of ecommerce means that trends seen on the catwalk and on celebrities are now being fast tracked to customers. This trend is enabled by a number of emerging retailers that can introduce the latest trends in a short space of time. It’s also being helped by advances in technology that mean the customer can get what they want more quickly.
High Street clothing brands such as Zara and Top Shop are known for their ability to spot an emerging trend and get it in store within a matter of weeks. This efficient process is known as ‘fast fashion’, and it requires an impressive command of your supply chain.
Critics argue the fast fashion trend produces low-quality wearables that are highly disposable. But the success of retailers that can master their supply chains to achieve this kind of turnaround suggests that fast fashion is what many customers ultimately want.
Jewellery has traditionally been seen as a more durable purchase compared to clothing.
But a number of changes in the market now indicate the fast fashion trend may be coming to the jewellery industry too. It’s partly a response to customer expectations but also reflects technological changes.
Not only is the supply chain increasingly sophisticated but there are also emergent technologies such as 3D printing, laser welding, cutting and engraving, and computer aided design that can help speed the manufacturing process.
The emergence of crafts marketplaces such as Etsy and widespread social media sharing of ideas also mean that emerging trends can be spotted and can spread quickly to new audiences.
Several major retailers have been criticised for apparently imitating the designs of these small crafters. Style bloggers and celebrity culture also quickly spreads ideas around the world, stimulating customer expectation. This all fuels the rapid spread of fashion trends that feed fast fashion.
Established fast fashion clothing retailers are also adding jewellery into the mix of products they offer.
Fashion brands such as Nasty Gal and ASOS have added or expanded the amount of jewellery they offer. In addition to this, dedicated online retailers have emerged that focus on fast fashion jewellery. These retailers are often growing fast as they get the product offering just right and make good use of social media to share their ideas.
BaubleBar: a leading fast fashion jewellery retailer
BaubleBar is one of the fastest-growing jewellery vendors starting to emerge. Orders have tripled within the first five years of this online brand’s launch, and investors are betting heavily on the brand’s success. The jewellery is inexpensive, turnover is fast, and the styles it offers are highly fashionable.
In common with fast fashion brands from the clothing industry, BaubleBar manages to get new trends out very quickly.
Once a new trend is spotted, the brand manages to rapidly get pieces into manufacture and make them available to buy. As a result, it released tens of new styles each week.
Not only does it keep customers coming back to the website but they can also find something within their price range each time. BaubleBar is expanding aggressively and has already opened a number of concessions across the States in trendy high-end stores such as Anthropolgie and Bloomingdales.
Tatty Devine: early trendsetters
Over in Britain, Tatty Devine is more of a trend setter than follower. Located in the heart of London’s hip East End but with several hundred stockists worldwide, this influential studio is best known for its designs in Perspex – a material that lends itself to fast manufacture. Decidedly in the hipster camp, the brand is embedded into the creative heart of the community where it runs jewellery-making workshops. It also makes good use of social media.
Tatty Devine responds to the latest fashion trends with their own regular releases.
The brand follows fashion weeks, attending London shows and often release their own items to coincide with the latest fashion season. As is often the case with innovative designers, the brand’s had to fend off imitators with legal action. This brand focuses on bringing out new ideas and retiring those that are outdated very rapidly. Although it’s a branded line manufactured on a relatively small scale, the manufacturing techniques used enable them to bring out new styles very quickly.
Collaborations with celebrities and designers
One other fast fashion trend that jewellery is picking up from the high street clothes retailers is the concept of a one-off collection from a well-known designer or celebrity. BaubleBar does this on a regular basis, with hot actresses and models such as Alessandra Ambrosio. The Kardashians have collaborated with online fashion retailer ASOS to launch their own collection through the site.Generally, the point of these collections is that they are limited edition and only available for a short period of time. This impression of scarcity drives demand for the product during the period it is available.
Another advantage of these collaborations is that the celebrity’s own profile pushes attention onto the jewellery vendor. BaubleBar chooses its collaborative partners based on their social media following as much as on their personal style and jewellery ideas.
Jewellery brands working in the fast fashion space need to be canny at social media promotion, with Instagram proving particularly important for this sector. Zoe and Morgan, Tatty Devine, and BaubleBar all curate an Instagram feed that mixes lifestyle content with the latest products. To some extent, none of these ideas are new.
The jewellery industry has always played with notions of scarcity and it’s often associated itself with glamorous figures as it seeks to sell more items.
Many established brands (such as Chopard) already make good use of Instagram. But the fast fashion trend is putting new and disruptive pressure on the industry, mainly because it drives everything to happen faster and cheaper. New entrants working in this space are growing fast and attracting investment. All the evidence suggests that these trends are still in their infancy, and there’s further disruption to come.