Ahead of our London Summit and its opening panel, Engaging Fashion Consumers in the Digital Age, we've taken a look at some of the key areas the fashion industry should pay attention to in order to 'future-proof' itself: From cashing in on 'experience culture' to taking sustainable approaches to survive.
Doing it for the 'gram
Writing for Forbes, Blake Morgan notes that today's generation of shoppers "value experience over ownership", and there are a slew of studies to back this up. This gives fashion brands an incentive to look beyond product and create 'experiences' that will entice customers to return – a mean feat in our online-driven world, where consumers aren't generally loyal to brands, perhaps choosing to shop around online to snag the cheapest deals or using the internet as a tool for constantly discovering new brands.
The popularity of 'experience culture' could partly be placed upon the prevalence of social media sharing; young consumers' interest is piqued by all things Instagram-friendly and provides an additional reason for brands to overhaul their clothing stores into multi-operational social hubs. With this in mind, exists a generation of shoppers who are pulled in by pieces that 'shout' and look good behind the lens. The popularity of easily identifiable pieces in luxury fashion is omnipresent – take Vetements' DHL t-shirts, for example, or Christopher Kane's sell-out 'Flower' and 'Petal' sweatshirts – and Instagram has only fuelled this, with consumers eagerly hunting down statement pieces in the hope of approval from their friends as well as their wider, online-based social networks.
Employing tech to turn the ordinary extraordinary
In a society coexisting with screens, it's slightly surprising that the relationship between technology and fashion – in terms of actual product – has yet to meet a happy medium. While many brands are getting fashion tech right, it appears remarkably easy to make a fatal misstep by overcomplicating wearable tech, which generally leads to the unfashionable concept of gimmickry.
Despite some teething problems, wearables are still "big business," as Jacqueline Wernimont notes on Slate. Werimont reports that yearly sales of wearables went up 171.6 percent in 2015, and it's been predicted that the wearable tech industry will be worth $25 billion by 2019. Fashion brands would be wise to tap into the trend before the market becomes oversaturated, be it though stylish Apple Watch straps, unobtrusive health trackers or NFC-enabled jewellery.
Pleasing the socially conscious consumer
While ethical issues have always swarmed fashion and various designers, like Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood, have publicised their opinions on the darker side of the apparel business, it wasn't until the large-scale Rena Plaza factory collapse in 2013 that the issue was fully thrown into the spotlight of the public consciousness. Three years on from those images of devastation, an increasing number of companies, from high-end to high street, have chosen to focus on sustainability and all things 'green'. Popular eco-friendly brand Reformation has launched 'RefScale', which allows its customers to discover the environmental impact of their clothes, accompanied by informative charts displaying individual garments' eco credentials.
Movements like the Campaign for Clean Clothes and Labour Behind the Label provide a voice for those demanding transparency, while another, Fashion Revolution, uses its accompanying hashtags, #FashRev and #WhoMadeMyClothes, to encourage Instagrammers to upload shots of their clothing labels, investigating their origin. Fashion Revolution also collaborates with bloggers to encourage engagement, conversation and, ultimately, an interest in sustainability from fast-fashion aficionados who aren't fully aware of the facts.
Lucy Siegle, activist and author, wrote for Business of Fashion: "We’re about to see a revolution across sectors, driven by an emergent aspiration class of consumers who want to be part of something bigger than just the product."
Discover the trends set to disrupt the fashion industry in the next 12 months, by joining us at the London Summit on May 17-18. Book your tickets here.
Reported by Grace Howard
Image Source: BOF