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So in my urban fantasy story, among other things, new fantasy races suddenly start appearing in the modern world via the system I outlined in this thread:

Reasons to voluntarily change into a fantasy race?

Long story short, for a variety of reasons, a bunch of humans have now willingly transformed into a new species, and this happens about half a dozen times over the course of two or so years. Now a few of these have features which would require specially modified clothing to fit them (different foot shapes, multiple arms, weird ears that things like sunglasses don't quite fit on), and I've been operating under the assumption that the opportunistic and profit-hungry industries of the world would be racing to put products on the market to cater to them. But it occurs to me that I don't have a good concept of how fast that would be.

How long should I show these trans-species characters making due with homemade solutions before the free market starts marketing more professional clothes and accessories to accommodate their biology? What about the next times this happens? How much faster would the industry react to the next time a bunch of people suddenly decide to shapeshift into new creatures?

Edit: Just to give a clearer picture of the market share and profit opportunities, the current idea is that each of the first two transformations are taken by roughly 10-15% of the population (at least in America, where the story's set), while the remaining four get fewer takers at around 5% of the population each due to the changes being more extreme. By the end of year 2, humans will be 60-50% of the total population.

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    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 My current rough estimate is that about 10-15% of the population for each of the first two changes, with the subsequent ones being weirder and more niche and thus getting lower percentages like 5%. By the time all of the races have shown up at the end of year 2, humans are now roughly 50% of the population. As for "industry", I figured the major companies would have the most resources to get these things done quickly and thus would have it widely available sooner than small businesses. Am I mistaken? $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Apr 25 '18 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting related read: slate.com/articles/arts/operations/2012/06/… Maybe someone can use it to answer? At least I hope it'll be useful. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Apr 25 '18 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Pleiades Not exactly. There's one person who does have the power to know when and what the next one will be, but he's kind of a villain who isn't keen to share that sort of intel. There is a pattern of sorts to when they show up though. The pattern would take too long to explain so let's just say for example that they know it only ever happens at the end of the month, they just don't know which month it'll be. $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Apr 25 '18 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ Well the first thing they'd do is sack all those fat human models and hire ultra skinny elvish models $\endgroup$ – Thorne Apr 25 '18 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ I'm surprised so many of the answers assume it would be quite rapid, given that the real-world fashion industry rarely supports people of different sizes and shapes beyond a select few that are deemed attractive. $\endgroup$ – AlbeyAmakiir Apr 26 '18 at 4:11
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Never under-estimate the entrepreneurial spirit.

As soon as each new alternative form option becomes available and while the knowledge of its availability is still saturating into the general population, there will be entrepreneurs working on how to profit from this new trend. And since clothing needs are easier to predict than dietary or person-hygiene needs, these will be one of the first opportunities leped upon.

YouTube will overflow with fashion show videos filled with affiliate links to small-scale clothiers. Etsy will need new categories for hand-crafted products for each new species. Ebay and Amazon will also pounce on each new market.

As the pattern begins to emerge, lawyers will go proactive, crafting exclusive contracts with those scheduled to transform at the transition moment; offering monetary bonuses if the signer emerges in a new form. Then the major clothing companies who hired the lawyers can get a jump on everyone else as the new market emerges.

Have no worry for clothing your new menagerie. As soon as each transformed person steps out in their new birthday suit, there will be merchants lining up to take their money.

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It already exists.

Mainstream media already has covered some standard fantasy races pretty extensively, so known human brands could obviously quickly offer designs for them, but it is expected that someone has already sketched up some clothes for anything you can imagine.

This is an overlooked outgrowth of rule 34(not safe for work). People imagine all sorts of weird stuff all the time, but no body cares about it because it generally doesn't effect anything. If there were suddenly people looking to sell new kinds of clothes searches will turn up loads of stuff.

You might get unlicensed Chinese knockoffs where the F-shirts face the wrong way produced the first week, but stylish prototypes of existing designs shouldn't be far behind.

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The fashion industry could respond very fast – within days for an indie maker, or within months for a high-street store.

But would they?

It makes sense for some indies to get into it as a profitable niche market. But most will likely ignore the market, as it's probably going to be difficult to work with (I imagine there'll be a big learning curve on how to design t-shirts to fit over wings).

Boutique Designer Brands might do some very expensive designer clothes, if it fits their aesthetic. But those things are way pricy.

But high-street stores? Hahaha. They already don't serve a large chunk of the population – you have to fit the standard shapes. I believe the middle 80% is a typical claim, meaning about 1 in 5 people will struggle to find stuff that fits properly in high-street stores - of course, most people just settle for clothes that don't fit very well (I'm tall but slim, and have wide feet, so I wear t-shirts baggy to get the height, and shoes long to get the width. Big deal.) But if you've got wings or a tail, that's not going to work.

That leaves the chain specialist stores, who cater for unusual body shapes (in the UK we've got Long Tall Sally (tall women), High & Mighty (tall/large guys), Bravissimo (big boobs)).

So you'd likely get some new chains catering for these new body shapes. It'd start probably with an indie clothing maker who starts to specialise in trousers for tails, finds the market large enough to do it full time & then to subcontract the actual making to India. After running a store in Camden for a year & getting increasing online orders, they'd get a feel there's enough market to set up another store in Birmingham, then it'd grow from there. But it'd take quite a few years before there were many stores around.

Now, with your edit, you're suggesting a very high uptake of modifications. That sounds extremely high. But ok. High street stores probably aren't going to deal with a 5-10% uptake, or they might offer a couple of designs just so they can claim to be 'inclusive'. Once it gets larger, they'll think about it, but they – and everyone else – is likely to be blown away by that speed of uptake of significant body modifications.

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  • $\begingroup$ Part of me was worried about that number estimate, yes. I was hoping to get an end result something like Shadowrun, with the population only being 60% human, which is why it was so important to gather as many potential reasons for shifting as I could without making the races objectively better. If you have the time, could you take a look at that thread and tell me what a better estimate would be? $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Apr 25 '18 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ Have posted on the other thread – realistically it seems unlikely to me that you'd get beyond a 1% uptake within decades. Sorry! $\endgroup$ – Dan W Apr 28 '18 at 14:17
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Behind the scene the markets work really fast.

Entrepreneurs are looking for new opportunities all the time, and some types of clothes for fantasy races will come out even before anyone became this type of race.

To give you an example from our world you can look at autonomous cars.

They are still on testing and no one knows if or when they will come out to the public, but you won't believe how many startup companies already develop gadgets for them.

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6 months and the factories in china/asia will have the freighters going to the west full of them. You could see how long it takes for factories to adapt to new designs/trends and nowadays it is quite a short turnaround. If someone orders designs from them, like something practical to wear, then other such shops will start producing similar items - if your fantasy conversion is global then the timeframe will be even faster due to there being immediate market, at higher profit than normal clothing they export, in the vicinity of the clothing factories.

I live in Thailand, I could if there was an opportunity find someone to make a new t-shirt shape, have one factory cut them from canvas, have someone print something fancy and edgy on them and have different locals sew them together. I could have a set to send off in a week. A lot of cheap t-shirt a lot of the production is fragmented a little bit like that, you can buy precut cloth canvas from one place, other people do printing, other sew it together, it's all a connected network and a lot of it isn't even big factories so it would be very flexible to providing odd shapes.

I'd give it one year for the market to be saturated and not believe in a story where they would have to make do with homemade solutions past 6 months.

It is also fairly simple and inexpensive to just buy clothing made just for you in Asia. I say inexpensive in western terms, but of course it's 25x more expensive than just buying a shirt at a market.

For simple shoes it's not that much different either. If you can make a design for a crocs copy to fit their feet, it's a few months.

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"different foot shapes"

I think this would be hardest. There'll be sufficient home seamstresses to cut and sew cotton or wool into various shaped smocks, dresses and tunics to cover up pretty much any body. Long lasting footwear giving protection and support is another matter. Perhaps they have hooves that can be nailed up with metal 'horseshoes' ? Supportive underwear (thinking bras) may also prove challenging.

And then you get into sanitation products, cleaning, cosmetics, contraceptives, medicines...

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