Updated: Mar 21
Fashion brands are using data to design more intelligently and position their products to analyze shopping behavior strategically.
Fashion is far more than luxury shopping and designer clothes. It’s an immense industry - $2.5 trillion globally, to be exact - that is ripe with innovation. And over the next several years, you can expect to see several changes in the industry and opportunities for growth, thanks to new concepts, enhanced technology, and shifting demands. For example, when selecting a custom capsule wardrobe or any new look for that matter, it’ll be important to stay up to date on the latest trends. So in this post, we will examine four key trends that will shape the future of the fashion industry.
Data is King: Driving Intelligent Decision-Making
In years past, designers would create clothing, and consumers would wear it. Not anymore! Through a data-driven approach to fashion, creating clothing that is more likely to be purchased is the way of the future.
Data can also predict the rise and fall of key trends. Many stores and brands, such as Miu Miu and Stitch Fix, are doing just that. This isn’t just trends what you’re browsing - we’re talking about virtually anything that can impact the fashion industry, from climate to color preferences, and TikTok trends to political movements. And the benefits of doing so span beyond making clothing that customers are more likely to buy - if more clothing is taken off of the shelves (or warehouses), then fewer materials are going to waste, helping the environment live to fight another day. Since leveraging data enables brands to be more efficient, innovating becomes easier. It’s a win-win for everyone.
What we are seeing is the fusion of art and science before our very eyes. Fashion will always be a form of art, but how that art is created is now being guided by data. And what’s more? The world’s biggest tech giants are now trying to get a piece of the pie. Amazon is developing a machine learning program to determine if an item is “stylish”, while Google is testing user-driven AI fashion design that creates new pieces and styles based on algorithms.
Saving Mother Earth: Focusing on Sustainability
As we alluded to in the last section, the use of data inherently helps the fashion industry exist more sustainably. Sustainability is a recent trend that fashion brands have embraced - previously, fashion has been a big contributor to waste and climate change due to its non-eco-friendly practices. But now, there are emergent and growing hubs for luxury fashion that are adopting new ways. Designers such as Detroit’s Evan Sparrow are collaborating within this transformation.
Fast fashion, which became popular for its ability to quickly and cheaply reproduce runway designs, is declining, with slow fashion - pieces that are more eco-friendly and designed to last longer - taking its place. In fact, almost 50% of fast fashion retailers have reported a recent decrease in customer purchases, with customers seeking for and resonating with brands that ethically source their materials and emphasize sustainable manufacturing practices. In addition, research reveals that 88% of consumers want brands to assist them in their efforts to become more environmentally friendly.
However, even with this positive progress, fashion still has much room for improvement. Fashion production still releases 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, which is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Still, sustainable fashion brands are growing, and their innovative practices are setting the taking hold among retailers worldwide. For example, British design company Vin + Omi harvests its own crops to make clothing from horseradish plants and chestnuts, and also features items that are made out of recycled paint containers. Meanwhile, Levi’s recently revealed a new collection of denim that uses 96% less water than normal to create, a huge win for a type of clothing that is infamous for requiring large amounts of water to create.
The market for buying pre-owned items is also on the rise, as we expect it to hit $64 billion by 2024. Even as other forms of shopping for fashion have taken a hit due to COVID, online secondhand shopping continues to experience promising growth. As more consumers look to purchase previously worn items, fashion brands will have to create pieces that will last longer.
Going Digital: Engaging Audiences
The future of most industries is going virtual, and fashion is no exception. Brands will need to adapt how they create and sell clothing to streamline the buyer journey while engaging new audiences through innovative and creative digital channels.
As more shoppers transition to online shopping, fashion retailers have to meet their demands. Consumers flock to shopping online because of its convenience and speed - even if that means not being able to try an item on. And it won’t be enough to just make clothing available online - the most successful fashion brands of the future will also have to create an immersive digital shopping experience with things like virtual fit or sizing tools, virtual showrooms, and virtual stylists.
Fashion brands will also use technology like AR and VR to allow potential customers to “try on” items digitally from the comfort of their own homes. Major retailers such Adidas, Macy’s, and Modcloth are adopting virtual dressing rooms and are making this a mainstream technology. And using AR has made shopping more seamless for all parties involved - doing so helps consumers feel more confident in their purchases and reduces return rates by 36%.
And digital trends will still influence even consumers who prefer the in-person shopping experience. Several large fashion brands are shifting to virtual fashion shows and are digitizing their designs into 3D prototypes on avatars that are easier to showcase, test, and manufacture on demand. This allows designers to test out ideas virtually and run them by them consumers before actually having to create the physical items.
Keep it Simple: Moving to Minimalism
Fashion is becoming more simple and minimalist, both in its styles and in its delivery. For example, several fashion houses used to create eight collections per year.
A rather crowded fashion show schedule and items being displayed in stores well before customers would be ready to wear them - think swimsuits in February and winter wear in August. However, fashion is shifting to two collections a year, namely spring/summer and fall/winter. The much simpler approach is largely customer-centric, emphasizing the importance of creating clothing when people will actually be looking to buy them.
Simplifying fashion also cuts costs and helps out the environment. Rather than rapidly cycling through clothes and having to hurry to create a new collection, marketing campaign, and fashion show every six weeks, fewer collections results in less waste and material put into producing new clothing.
Fashion trends themselves will also become more simple in the future. As many people will be working from home for the foreseeable future, fashion brands have toned it down a notch, favoring comfort and lounge wear and making clothing that works for both sleeping and living. And even after the pandemic, this trend will probably continue.
The Bottom Line
The fashion world is changing for the better - it is becoming smarter, more efficient, more convenient, and less costly. As these trends continue to rise, everyone wins. We are committed to an indefinite growth mindset and are always interested in new strategies to become innovative leaders.
For more insights into the key trends that are revolutionizing fashion, we recommend reading our related post about understanding the foundations of how Big Data is driving the fashion industry.
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