Every year, the analysts at Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company bring out their magic crystal ball and forecast the future of the fashion world. The State of Fashion has always been a reliable source of insight about shifts in consumer trends and game-changing technologies, but State of Fashion 2019 in particular heralds major changes that could shake the industry to its core.
Digging through the whole document might be a daunting task, especially if you have other creative tasks to care of. That’s why I decided to collect the 21 key quotes from the State of Fashion 2019, and asked top experts of the fashion sphere to share their own take on the case. And as an added bonus, you can easily share these quotes on social media.
The Rise of the Eastern Market
- The year ahead is one that will go down in history. Greater China will for the first time in centuries overtake the US as the world’s largest fashion market. Tweet this
- China is no longer simply the factory to the world. It is the world’s fastest-growing consumer market, accounting for more than 18 percent of all final goods consumed. Tweet this
- India is increasingly a focal point for the fashion industry, reflecting a rapidly growing middle-class and increasingly powerful manufacturing sector. These, together with strong economic fundamentals and growing tech-savvy, make India too important for international brands to ignore. Tweet this
The challenge is to understand how the culture and attitudes are changing. The needs and wants of the new generations of affluent Asians is something that requires local on-the-ground knowledge. The opportunity for brands lies in doing their research. Getting the product and messaging right. Luxury fashion from Europe with all its heritage and history, not to mention creativity is still very much held in huge esteem by the Asian Market . Clearly there is so much still to explore there, but carefully and not with a one size fits all approach.
fashion designer, creative director, author of The Fashion Switch
Shifts in the Balance of the Fashion Industry
- Technology and social media are enabling a new breed of ‘challenger’ brands that disrupt a sector or category where incumbent players have rested on their laurels. Tweet this
- Consumers are increasingly drawn to small brands with compelling and authentic narratives. In order to keep pace, larger companies must learnhow to think small. Tweet this
- Whether through acquisitions, investments or internal R&D, [technology-focused e-commerce players] that diversify their ecosystem will strengthen their lead over those remaining pure players who rely solely on retail margins and existing offerings. Tweet this
- Fashion is seeing the start of a seismic shift where products are “pulled” into the market based on actual demand rather than “pushed” based on best-guesses and forecasts. Tweet this
Airlines, finance and insurance industries have all long-supported decision making with data. Only recently has a mass proportion of fashion retailers adopted a similar mindset due to excess stock caused by relying on ‘fashion forecasting’. More retailers are now applying emerging technologies like EDITED, because there are factual numbers on consumer habits and trends to support their every decision. The ability to analyze industry data allows retailers to make more confident strategic decisions for their businesses.
CEO & Co-founder at EDITED
Omnichannel, the Tiebreaker for Retailing
- Priority investments in sales growth named for this year were omnichannel and e-commerce, developing CRM capabilities, improving in-store experiences and investing in brand building. Tweet this
- Footfall in the physical environment continues to decline, which is driving the need for brands and retailers to develop their omnichannel strategies. Tweet this
- A store needs to be broader than just a place of transaction. It needs to be a place where people gather and if you don’t bring in experience and education and entertainment, you’re not going to do as well. Tweet this
Time and time again, McKinsey & Company has pointed out that having an omnichannel strategy is vital to the fashion industry. But what do retailers actually need to achieve a truly omnichannel feeling? The answer is: seamless consumer experience, which stems from rich customer data. There are numerous tools retailers can use to gather information about their audience, including a loyalty program. Recognition Loyalty™ is especially efficient in creating a layered customer profile by going beyond transactions and gathering insights outside the buying cycle.
CEO & Co-founder at Antavo Loyalty Management Platform
Embracing Digital Innovation
- The technical building blocks [for enhancing customer experience] already exist; a company does not need to build the integrated solution from scratch. These existing capabilities can be rapidly stitched together using SaaS capabilities. Tweet this
- The time lag between discovery and purchase is a pain-point for customers who continue to expect better experiences. Companies are increasingly focusing on reducing this source of friction and launching new technologies to enable a smooth and speedy transition from inspiration to acquisition. Tweet this
Every major brand executive today understands the importance of customer centricity and personalized experience. And to begin delivering results today there is no need to wait for large enterprise integrations or for a plan to build proprietary solutions. Top startups from around the globe offer a treasure trove of value added to the customer. The key to growth is the ability to curate the best in the market and openness to partnerships that quickly bring new customer experiences to market.
CEO & Founder at TheCurrent
- Using your mobile device to shop and interact with your favourite brands in a different way is going to be the next new challenge, which is the ‘conversational interface.’ Tweet this
- Visual search is a particularly interesting proposition for the fashion industry. Screenshop enables users to take a screenshot or picture of “tops, skirts, shoes, etc.”and then shop similar items straight from their phones. Tweet this
“The camera is the new keyboard. So, search-by-image is becoming a common feature among leading retailers. It’s a step forward towards creating ease and comfort for the users to find products, taking shoppers directly from inspiration to satisfaction. But the real revolution of visual search lies in a one-click discovery. Retailers need to take visual search solution to the next level to delight capricious customers and shoppers needs with the real shop-the-look service”.
CEO & Co-founder at Wide Eyes Technologies
- According to the predictions of the McKinsey Global Fashion Index, sportswear will be the leading apparel category in 2019, closely followed by handbags & luggage. At the same time, luxury fashion continues to have the strongest outlook in the industry. Tweet this
- Brands have already moved towards “radical transparency” in manufacturing, hoping to regain the trust of disillusioned customers. This might include information about product origins or the environmental impact of manufacturing. Tweet this
- Across many categories consumers have demonstrated an appetite to shift away from traditional ownership to newer ways in which to access product. Tweet this
Adopting new technology and innovation in the fashion industry is crucial to achieve Circular and Sustainable models. After spending three months in Fashion for Good Plug and Play accelerator programme, I witnessed the efforts made by corporate partners to embrace innovation and transparency in their supply chain. The fourth revolution brought by digital is a turning point for the fashion industry and would ease the process to deliver outstanding and disruptive products and services to consumers.
CEO & Co-founder at Save Your Wardrobe
Sustainability, Social Awareness
- By bringing production closer to home and investing in advanced manufacturing, companies in the apparel sector will become more sustainable and less wasteful by reducing overproduction and decreasing the ecological footprint from reduction of transport. Tweet this
- With the possibility of a global economic slowdown by 2020, companies will turn more prudent and start to look more aggressively into opportunities to boost productivity compared to previous years. Tweet this
- In more and more categories, consumers are choosing to rent rather than own goods outright. This trend is partly driven by the young generation’s hunger for newness, while embracing sustainability. Tweet this
- Younger consumers are seriously concerned with social and environmental causes, which many regard as being the defining issues of our time. They increasingly back their beliefs with their shopping habits, favouring brands that are aligned with their values and avoiding those that don’t. Tweet this
Consumers are becoming more and more demanding. Concepts that were previously labeled as “nice to have” features – like corporate social responsibility, social and environmental awareness – are quickly turning into real purchasing considerations. There is also growing impatience regarding delivery times. This prompts companies to put additional emphasis on simplifying search & discovery and on improving stock management.
VP of Strategy & Insight at Antavo Loyalty Management Platform
The Biggest Influences for 2019
It seems that the next year will cast huge waves, and companies that don’t learn how to ride the tide in time will sooner or later sink, regardless of their size. So what trends should you pay extra attention to?
- Getting personal – Consumers wish to be more directly involved with their favorite brands, which calls for a more personalised approach. Not just on the communication side, but also through machine learning, unified customer profiles and AI technologies.
- Omnichannel – Seamlessly integrated shopping channels (in-store, mobile and online) are becoming a must-have feature. Interacting with a brand through mobile apps will be the next step in fashion but, at the same time, physical environments needs to offer a one-of-a-kind experience, otherwise you’ll lose out on foot traffic.
- Fashion-tech – Whether or not you can integrate innovative fashion-tech solutions – smart tagging, visual search and loyalty clouds – into your ecosystem could easily make or break your business. New generations of buyers are more tech-savvy than ever, but they are growing impatient with delivery times.
- Eastern markets – The Chinese and Indian markets are too big and too important to be ignored anymore. Fashion companies should renew their efforts to set foot in Asia, but the globalised approach won’t cut it anymore. Brands and retailers alike need to better understand their Asian audience and offer them relevant content.
Finding a Solution Is the Next Step to Success
The State of Fashion is a great guide that highlights upcoming trends and issues, but you’ll also need the right solution in order to propel your business forward. If you wish to read more about the context of these quotes, and what else the Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company has to say about these matters, then download the full report from here.
Zsuzsa is CCO and Co-founder of Antavo, listed by Forbes as one of Europe’s top 100 female founders in tech. After acting as Antavo’s CMO for nearly a decade, she took over the role to help the company’s clients. She is also a former journalist and has been awarded by the European Commission.