Part 1 of our series in the growth of fast fashion

If you’re a brand that designs original goods, this means that there is a vast increase in the number of sales channels through which cheap imitators can sell products that borrow your designs for their copycat products. That’s a whole new challenge to monitor and enforce against.      

The rise of fast fashion has been fuelled by a number of factors. In part 1 we look at how tech has changed the game by revolutionising the accessibility of the market. For only a few pounds or dollars, a budding retailer can set up a website and make their first sale in a matter of hours, if not minutes…

Companies like Shopify, Oberlo and AliExpress have revolutionised the ease in which you can set up a business, which is fantastic in the right hands. However, they’ve inadvertently unlocked the gate to the copycats and unleashed a model that fuels a rise in lookalike sales at the expense of original designers.

It used to be the case that setting up a business took substantial upfront investment both in terms of time and capital.

A store

Once upon a time, retailers had to stump up the cost of a bricks and mortar store, that investment is long gone.

Designing a website

Despite the rise of e-commerce, until more recently, setting up an e-commerce business still required a substantial upfront investment in getting a website built with secure and reliable e-commerce functionality.  Disruptors like Shopify have changed the game. Through its platform, budding retailers can set up a bespoke looking website by tweaking Shopify’s templates and set up a functioning online store in a matter of minutes.


Shopify also takes care of back-end functions such as payment gateways.


The world is now a much smaller place. It’s no longer the case that to import from China requires a factory visit or a trusted intermediary, suppliers are but a few clicks away on marketplaces like AliExpress.

Also gone are the days when an importer would need to buy a minimum run of thousands of units. In fact, Shopify even promotes “dropshipping” through an intermediary app, Oberlo, and AliExpress which allows retailers to list items for sale without ever holding any stock.

So there’s no upfront cost in purchasing stock. Instead, retailers can choose to list any items available on AliExpress on their own website and if an item is ordered, Oberlo then acts as the go between and orders the item from AliExpress and AliExpress then ships it to the customer.

On receipt of payment from the customer, the retailer pays AliExpress its wholesale price and pockets the difference between the wholesale price and the price it listed the item for on its website. This model allows retailers to promote websites that appear to sell a huge range of products, yet they actually hold no stock until orders are placed.

There’s no upfront cost to set up an online store operating in this way, a monthly subscription of USD$29 per month is all it takes to get started!

So, what does this mean for you and your business?

Well, if you’re a business that prides itself on the uniqueness of its designs and those designs are a valuable business asset, you face a new line of attack. It’s no longer the case that you can assess the copycat market by strolling down the high street and popping into the usual fast fashion offenders or monitoring just the e-comms giants, you need to be ready to tackle an ever-increasing number of new market entrants before they dilute the value in your assets.       

Times are moving quickly and you need the tools to keep up with that pace of change.

Please do get in touch to see how Dupe Killer can protect your brand from copycats! Email us at