Published Date: Mar 2024


Rise of Fast Fashion in India:

Fast fashion has seen unprecedented growth in India over the past decade driven mainly by changing consumer preferences of young population. Indians who earlier preferred buying ethnic wear for occasions are now open to western trends. The easy availability of Fast fashion garments at affordable prices coupled with heavy promotion and marketing by brands has made fast fashion mainstream in tier 1 and tier 2 cities.

The young working population in metros and tier 1 cities prefer latest western trends over traditional clothing. They look for novelty, variety and value for money which fast fashion perfectly fits. Various international and domestic fast fashion brands have entered India and see it as one of the key growing markets globally. Indian consumers aged between 18-35 years form the major customer base for these fast fashion brands.

Emergence of Domestic Fast Fashion Players:

Seeing the potential, several Indian entrepreneurs have also launched their own fast fashion brands in the past 5 years. Notable among them are labels like FabAlley, VanHeusen, Max Fashion, Splash etc. These homegrown brands understand Indian sensibilities better and offer western silhouettes inspired by latest international runways but adapted for the conservative Indian audience.

FabAlley was one of the earliest movers in the domestic fast fashion space targeting young Indian millennial. Starting online, they have now expanded to over 50 exclusive brand outlets across major cities. Their pricing is highly competitive starting at Rs. 500 which has helped them gain significant marketshare.

VanHeusen too follows an asset light franchise model. They bring out 6 new collections every year focusing on western formals and casuals. By understanding ground sentiments, they ensure designs are locally sourced and produced keeping local sensibilities in mind. This strategy of being adaptive to the nuances of the Indian market has worked well for them.

Business Models and Strategies:

International fast fashion powerhouses like H&M, Zara and Uniqlo follow an innovative business model which is nimble and adaptive to changing trends. They control their entire vertically integrated supply chain right from design, production to retail. This helps them churn out new collection within 2-3 weeks and stay ahead of competitions.

H&M focuses on mass appeal and extremely low pricing. Over 70% of their products are priced below Rs. 2000. They leverage their huge global sourcing and production scale to maintain such aggressive pricing. H&M is also experimenting with more sustainable and eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton to appeal to socially conscious young Indians.

On the other hand, Inditex owned Zara follows a ultra fast model where they can design, produce and retail a new product within 2 weeks. Zara focuses more on premiumization over H&M. Around 60% of their products fall in the price bracket of Rs. 2000-5000 which is slightly higher than H&M but offers slightly better quality and designs.

Fast fashion e-tailers like Myntra, Jabong are also bringing out micro-collections every week tied to latest fashion trends. By leveraging their strong data analytics capabilities, they aim latest collections and personalized recommendation towards what is trending among customers. This has helped them achieve 25-30% of business from repeat customers within 6 months of their first purchase.

Sustainability Concerns and Way Ahead:

While fast fashion has democratized fashion by making latest trends affordable for masses, it has also received criticism on account of various sustainability concerns:

Heavy resource usage: On an average, a fast fashion garment is worn only 7-10 times before being discarded. This puts huge strain on natural resources for raw material and production.

Water pollution: The large scale production and use of chemicals pollutes water. The textile dyeing and treatment industry is one of the largest polluters of water bodies.

Climate impact: With such low lifespan of garments, fast fashion accelerates climate change due to massive carbon footprint in its entire supply chain from fibre production to logistics.

Waste generation: The ‘wear a few times and dispose’ culture promoted by fast fashion has ended up creating mountains of textile waste that chokes landfills for years.

Going forward, fast fashion needs to move towards more sustainable fabrics, leaner and cleaner production, longer garment lifespan and improved end-of-life systems. Both international brands and domestic players will have to proactively respond to these issues and imbibe principles of slow fashion to ensure long term viability of this burgeoning sector.


In conclusion, fast fashion has sparked a silent revolution in the Indian retail industry by making latest global trends affordable and mainstream. While it offers aspirational clothing to young Indians, the underlying business model poses sustainability challenges if not addressed timely. With growing environmental consciousness, fast fashion players will need innovative strategies around circular economy and eco-friendly alternatives to stay relevant.