Johnny John is COO of the Total Wardrobe Solutions division of S Kumars Nationwide Limited. He was previously with LMG Brands India Pvt Ltd as its President for a year. Previous to that he was with Reebok through it's starting 7 years in India as it's Executive Director Apparel and further as it's Apparel Director in it's Asia- Pacific office in Hong Kong for a further 7 years.Prior to that he was with Liz Claiborne India and Stencil for 2 year stints. He started his career with Madura Coats (apparel fabrics div) as a management trainee where he was for 4 years. He has studied International Trade at IIFT Delhi.
The FMFG- Fast Moving Fashion Goods Industry is a term that I have coined. I believe it best describes best the apparel industry which falls between fast moving consumer goods and consumer durables.
An obvious question would be; ‘Is FMFG being confused with Fast Fashion?’ Yes Fast Fashion and Fast Moving Fashion are similar but the FMFG construct takes more dimensions into account. The FMFG model does not necessarily cover only high fashion product - people are replacing less fashionable basics as well faster these days.
Fast Fashion product is closer to the FMCG end of the spectrum, with fast fashion clothes now having a wardrobe life of a few months to a season at best. At the other end is the apparel version of the consumer durable - Suits, for example which can last for an adult’s life-time (with some waist adjustments perhaps) and some denim jeans that are durable enough to be written into some people’s wills! Apparel businesses and brands now need to factor in this dimension - the usage-time factor, into their product and product creation process. Zara probably did it best realizing that the ‘old’ way of some fashion brands taking about a year from concept to shelf was not applicable to the new ‘fashonista’ consumer who ‘consumed’ her clothes in a few months, in a manner of speaking. They developed a product creation cycle attuned to their product usage cycle- a few months. And the rest is contemporary history.
If we do not add this dimension, then I believe we miss the mark in meeting consumer needs. This key ‘usage-time’ factor affects various other dimensions.
First on the product specs and quality. It’s not just a question of being close to fashion by delivering quickly. It is also the value that is built in by a long process. All the attendant costs cannot always be recovered if the need was not for such an engineered product or process and vice versa. I am told that some of the fast fashion brands are happy with about a 90% quality level to ship. That figures because this probably helps them get their product to reach the end-consumer in a fast and furious manner. They do not let the time and cost of the final 10% of trying to get perfect quality (if that is even possible in apparel) hold them up and they move on deliver, sell and to catch the next ( FMFG) consumption cycle.
Another dimension is on the price. On one end the fast fashion product is on the moderate price scale; Empirical proof exists of this. This is an obvious correlation between the usage time for this fashion product vis a vis its price. In earlier constructs, the more ‘fashion’ effects you put into the style, the higher the price. Now when the element of time usage comes in, we find that the price is no longer directly proportional only to the number of fashion elements put in, but to the product’s usage time as well. And while this may not be true for those exceptional cases like a one-time use Gown for the Oscars (though I believe the stars get them free!); I believe that a higher skew of consumers for ready to wear apparel are now on a short usage time hence a more FMFG model of pricing.
Distribution is a key dimension. I remember The Gap stating at one point that they wanted to be available in every super market so that their merchandise could be picked up, well, like a FMCG product. The evident difference is that (even) a chino cannot be equated to that generic tube of toothpaste or a shampoo. There is colour, fit, feel and style which influence the buying decision. This is part of what I would bundle into the ‘fashion quotient’ and that begets the FMFG tag.
Well I hope you like my FMFG tag for the apparel industry. I think it applies to other lifestyle products too and I will be developing this concept further.