The mass market is a segment of the fashion industry that’s right at the top of the fashion pyramid. The goal of the mass market is to reach as many people as possible. To achieve this, mass-market fashion brands provide fashion items at affordable prices. Most times, these brands draw their inspiration from luxury brands. However, they make cost-effective and ideal outfits for the average consumer.
Mass market fashion makes it easy for the average consumer to stay on trend without high prices. The only downside to mass production is that they’re usually not of the highest quality. Sometimes, they’re not made to measure. Therefore, customers might not get the ideal size. This article provides insight into all you need to know about mass-market fashion and the top brands that practice mass-market.
Mass Market Fashion History
Mass market clothing is usually manufactured in large quantities because its target is the open market. Therefore, it is only available in standard sizes and features several copies of the same design. As long as there’s a demand, a mass-market fashion designer works. However, understanding the history of this fashion industry segment is essential; keep reading and find out how it came to be.
Mass Market Fashion History: 1800 – 1950
The mass market can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution, where dressmakers produced ready-made clothing in a range of sizes rather than those made to order. Due to the availability of textile machines and factories, the clothing price fell significantly, increasing bulk cloth manufacturing. Apart from couture houses, local dressmakers were responsible for making clothes for middle-class women. However, women of lower-income had to make their clothing. As a result, most local dressmakers tend to use ‘sweaters’ working from home for a low wage. The practice of using sweaters soon became the basis of most clothing production.
Despite the increase in sewing innovations and garment factories, most clothing production still took place in small workshops. However, World War II led to increased standardized production of all clothes. Once people got used to this standardized process, the middle class became more accepting of purchasing mass-produced garments even after the war.
Mass Market History: 1960 – the 2000s
If you’re wondering when fashion trends started moving at an ultra-fast speed, it all began in the 1960s. During this period, young people started to embrace cheap clothing to keep up with the latest trend. The goal was to reject the sartorial traditions of the older generation. Therefore, fashion brands started looking for a way to keep up with the mounting demand for affordable clothes. This led to substantial textile mills opening across the world. As a result, the US and European companies outsourced their labor and saved millions in funds.
Due to the rapid growth of mass-market fashion, it’s hard to tell who the first mass-market retailer is. Today, many fashion brands carry out mass production like H&M, Primark, Zara, and more. These companies started as smaller shops in Europe and focused on affordable clothes for the mass market. These companies then infiltrated the American market in the 1990s. Although each brand emphasizes its humble beginnings, it’s hard to determine which brand influenced the other. The rapid growth these companies are famous for relies on taking measures to cut costs that require overseas sweatshop labor.
Before the arrival of these mass-market fashion brands in the American market, most people had to go to malls or teen stores like Express, Wet Seal, and Express to get affordable clothes that were still trendy. However, these mall stores could not produce clothes as quickly or in such mass production. Moreover, the inability to keep the stores stocked with various merchandise led to their gall. However, another brand that practiced mass-market production effectively in America is Forever 21.
Mass Market Fashion Today
It’s hard to pinpoint the actual origin of fast fashion as we know it today. It, however, became more acceptable in the early 2000s to flaunt your love for low-cost fashion. When the new H&M store opened in the US, the New York Times wrote that the fashion retailer arrived at the right time, and people were sure to make purchases because it was now chic to pay less. Mass-market brands like H&M and Zara also received approval from Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama, spotted in some of their dresses.
Mass market fashion lends a voice to the democratization of fashion enabled by mass production. It allows people to share their thoughts through their outfits. This can happen with mass-market fashion regardless of their economic and social background.
Top Mass Market Fashion Brands
There are several major players in the mass market fashion segment. Most of these companies outsource the production of their clothes and act as both retailers and manufacturers. Below, we’ll look at the leading brands in the mass market.
We can’t talk of mass-market fashion without a mention of Zara. This is the flagship brand of Inditex and is famous for fast fashion, which isn’t possible without mass-market production. This company is an excellent example of successfully running a mass-market brand. This company’s strategy for success is to stuff its stores with so many goods so that the customer has unlimited options.
Zara usually produces 10,000 plus fashion pieces annually. The company has over 2,138 stores in 96 countries and boasts of a strong online presence.
H&M is another top mass-market fashion brand that’s popular for its affordability. As a result, the brand is amongst the leading fashion retailers globally. H&M started in Swedish and has stores scattered in 74 countries. According to reports, H&M produces over three billion fashion pieces every year, making it a huge company in the mass market.
The company can achieve some mass production by outsourcing production to over 900 independent suppliers scattered around the year. The company ensures that 80% of its merchandise is available throughout the year. However, the other 20% usually depends on the current fashion trends. H&M, like other mass-market fashion brands, made it clear that its goal was to democratize fashion. To combat the environmental and social problems of mass production, H&M created the H&M Foundation. This foundation usually invests in recycling technologies for fabrics and collects old clothes in stores.
This Japanese brand is another mass-market brand we cannot ignore. However, unlike other brands practicing mass production, Uniqlo uses better quality material. The brand was founded in 1959 and is owned by Fast Retailing, the second-largest fashion retailer globally. Uniqlo’s focus isn’t on trends but instead on quality. Therefore, while the brand carious out mass production, they focus on comfort and quality. The goal is to ensure the average person has simple and modern clothing.
This brand also partnered with the Better Cotton Initiative to show its dedication to sustainability. This initiative’s goal is to reduce the climate impact of cotton farming. Uniqlo is also famous for promoting the well-being of its factory workers. However, the company refuses to disclose its supply chain.
This is an online fashion brand that effortlessly represents the transformation of the fashion world. This brand practices mass-market effortlessly and releases 600 – 900 designs each week. The speed with which the fashion pieces drop makes people want to buy and wear more. The brand is famous for using celebrities and influencers to further its brand. Despite the use of celebrities, Fashion Nova’s focus remains on the mass market. The brand sells jeans for as low as 40 dollars. However, there was an investigation into their factories by the New York Times in 2019.
Another brand that stands out in the mass market is Primark. This brand refuses to sell online but still retains its customer base. Primark decided not to embrace e-commerce because they believed their low prices would suffer due to return costs and shipping weights. However, the brand’s marketing strategies effectively drive customers in-store. However, Primark produces thousands of apparel weekly while keeping prices low.
This is another company of the internet age that has embraced mass-market fashion trends. It is considered the largest online fashion retailer in the UK. However, this company only came into existence in the 2000s. ASOS isn’t primarily a producer. However, it sells garments from over 850 brands. They also produce apparel under their brand, available at low prices.
This brand was founded in 1984 and was one of the first fashion brands to launch a website. The brand is known for also using celebrities, especially movie stars, to promote its brand. Mango brand produces 18,000 designs every year and produces several thousand for each design. Mango is famous for releasing new collections at affordable prices for the mass market. One of the concerns about this company lies in the quality of its clothing. Although the company claims that its materials are 44% sustainable, they do not disclose their suppliers or wage rate.
Urban Outfitters is a company that targets young adults and teens. This fashion company’s niches are alternative fashion and hipster culture. Urban Outfitters was created in 1970, but the brand came into popularity in 1976. Although the brand doesn’t disclose its suppliers and factories, its focus is the mass market. They carry out mass production and utilize synthetic textiles to produce their apparel.
The benefits of mass-market fashion are clear; it increases consumer satisfaction as they can participate in a trend quite quickly. Moreover, the average customer has access to trendy outfits at an affordable price with mass-market fashion. Although there are downsides to fast fashion, like its contribution to climate change and a massive amount of waste, most mass-market brands are working hard to go down the sustainable route. However, a continuous debate is whether the downsides of mass-market fashion outweighs its advantage. For now, people seem to love being able to afford new trends.