CIDER: A second SHEIN that’s refreshing the future of fast fashion with real-time retail

Key takeaways

  • Created in the middle of a pandemic Cider was able to conquer the Gen Zs through social media hauls and a new ecological approach.
  • The pre-order model is the secret to enabling the company to deliver on-trend fashion.
  • Delivering a long-tail of selection without sacrificing speed is what sets Cider apart from its competitors.

Launched in September 2020, Cider is a Chinese fast-fashion brand that mainly targets Gen-Z consumers and, like many other fashion brands during the pandemic, Cider has been made famous by the app TikTok where, nowadays, this younger generation gets their fashion inspiration over the FashionTok tag. Through these hauls, Cider was pushed into the limelight.

The Chinese brand that states that they make clothing for a new generation has an affordable selection with most of their clothes under $50 (329.25 RMB). The company’s greatest success began when the actress Christa Allen reprised her role from the 00’s blockbuster 13 Going on 30 on TikTok and Cider decided to recreate their own version of the dress that sold like crazy on their website. Their success was so huge that the famous dress has even been featured by VOGUE.

Cider’s success also came from the brand’s list of moods displayed on its website.

Image: Cider

Cider’s success also came from the brand’s list of moods displayed on its website. Once you’re shopping, you can choose the perfect mood that matches the specific micro-trend you’re looking for. Their pieces show a lot of personalities and it gives the feeling that you could easily find them in a celebrity’s dream closet.

Even though Cider has such a different approach to the fast-fashion world, it is undoubted that the brand has been compared to the giant retailer SHEIN. Both companies function in similar ways, listing small batches of items for specific moods and occasions every week and operating as a direct form factory marketplace.

Indeed, the brand is following the footsteps of SHEIN, as a digitally native fashion company that on the surface looks like a direct-to-consumer company, it’s actually a marketplace of global factories that enable users to have a bigger selection compared to other fast-fashion brands such as Zara but at the price of Forever-21.

Innovating the fast fashion game with minimal waste

Since launching in 2020, Cider has already built a strong community of digital-native consumers. The #cidergang is a global community of Gen Zs that loves fashion and values individualism, demanding a greater variety of clothing styles. The brand’s Instagram account has more than 3 million followers, which proves that many people are seeing Cider hauls on the internet.

Thanks to the “pre-order model”, the company reduces the amount of fashion waste.

At the same time, this younger generation also challenges companies, demanding apparel with accessible prices but at the same time committed to global causes that avoid hurting the planet.

Taking that into account, Cider stands out in what they call the “pre-order model. The piece is manufactured only after the consumer confirms their purchase on the website. By doing that, the company reduces the amount of fashion waste. On their website, Cider is also honest that they are not a 100% zero waste brand but they are working to improve their impact on the planet.

Image: Cider

Through that new order model, Cider was able to refresh the fast-fashion industry game. We know that fast fashion isn’t something that is going away but building a new system that aims to reduce its impact on the planet and cuts the inventory waste allows customers to have a more ethical feeling about shopping.

This new approach also enables the brand to keep the community as its core, as the customers are involved in the decision as to what to produce, which styles, and how much, helping the company achieve a zero-inventory future. With this, Cider gives everything customers want: a huge selection of fashionable with unique design clothing at affordable prices and a pledge to the environment that ships fast and with minimal packaging.

Using data to innovate the future of the brand 

As for the future of the brand, Cider claims to be an innovator, using data to pick out quality pieces in very specific styles that they know customers actually want to buy, allowing them to act more like a picky curator between Chinese clothing manufacturers and the consumer. This allows the company to keep low costs and reduce the unsold stock.

Using data, Cider aims to personalise the shopping experience to every customer.

The brand also has plans for getting to know their customers better, using data, the company aims to personalise the shopping experience to every customer, by recommending pieces and content in a very unique way.

For a company that was founded only 2 years ago, Cider was able to expand quickly and refresh the future of real-time retail, in what they call smart fashion. By reducing the fashion waste impact on the planet, the brand works on its transparency which seems so crucial nowadays to the new category of consumers that seeks a more ethical and sustainable business model when shopping.