In an industry made of countless brands of all ages and positionings, the ones that are to survive and thrive will have to be able to correctly interpret and act upon the changes that are revolutionizing not only the fashion industry, but society and business at large. In this article I will try and outline the most relevant changes and trends that fashion brands are experiencing at the moment.
1 – THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN THE OLD AND THE NEW
Heritage brands have finally realized that they cannot simply count and capitalize on their established position. Despite representing a definite advantage, being established is no longer enough. Young brands are on the rise, which can perfectly navigate the new digital environment and carry e-commerce and distribution in their DNA. Also, they are often seen as a cooler and more appealing alternative by consumers.
That’s why hero brands the likes of Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and Gucci have decided to embrace new approaches, often drawing inspiration by the streetwear, in an attempt to rejuvenate their collections and appeal to a wider – and younger – audience.
2 – MEANINGFUL INTERACTIONS
In the online environment, while the big marketplaces like Amazon, Zalando and others are getting increasingly popular among consumers for apparel purchases, smaller, individual brands still hold their place.
The former can leverage on huge investments in technology and research, while the latter can still count on the appeal of their brand values and authenticity, especially their ability to spark emotion among consumers and keep their trust.
If research studies show that what consumers will expect even more in the future is the ability to engage in relevant interactions with their favorite brands on the go, via mobile, fashion brands should be able to get prepared and respond more effectively.
3 – A STREAMLINED EXPERIENCE
Another crucial aspect that fashion brands can no longer overlook is speed, as applied to the time separating the very first touchpoint of consumers with the brand and the actual acquisition of the coveted item.
Nowadays consumers are used to faster, handier interactions: influencers, social media, celebrities, friends, the streetstyle constantly influence their choices. Therefore, the shorter is the time lag between the discovery of an item and its purchase the better results brands can have. Also, fashion brands should start realizing that they are no longer the only direct sources of inspiration for their clients, as other influencers - as the ones I have just mentioned – have now complemented, and sometimes replaced, their authoritativeness.
4 – A NEW SENSE OF BELONGING AND OWNERSHIP
In this era of global warning, climate change and social media culture, consumers are increasingly aware and concerned with social and environmental causes, which impacts their purchase choices. Many big fashion brands are starting to get more involved with the “real world” by embracing social and environmental values and causes and – very likely – trying to look more appealing to their customer base.
If customers are changing their shopping habits to favor brands in line with their values, they are also redefining their idea of ownership.
Younger generations striving for newness and embracing sustainability apply their choices to fashion, similarly to what they did in other sectors, such as technology or entertainment. If Netflix and Spotify made their idea of ownership more transient and ephemeral, young audiences are starting to consider fashion and luxury items in the same way, which results in trends such as fashion libraries to borrow clothes instead of buying them, fashion recycling or upcycling initiatives, second-hand purchases and so on.
5 – TRUST IS THE KEY
A further effect of social media and the importance given to social and environmental causes by consumers is that they expect total transparency from their brands of choice. The fashion industry – often the object of negative media coverage in the past – needs to regain consumers’ trust, first and foremost by rethinking its practices across its value chain and fulfilling the consumers’ need for transparency. This also in the light of the fact that millennials only – in 52% of the cases – always research for background information before buying.