From an increasing digital presence to sustainability, some
tech-driven trends are transforming the global fashion fraternity.
When it comes to adopting new trends and technologies, the fashion industry remains a frontrunner. As diverse industries deployed digital to keep business continuity plans going in the face of severe disruptions in the past couple of years, many fashion brands already had a digital presence while those that didn’t quickly built their online presence.
Today, while the criticality of having a digital presence is acknowledged, particularly for D2C (direct to consumer) initiatives, digital-native brands also realise the significance of an offline presence in promoting greater consumer satisfaction. As a result, both offline and online fashion brands are adopting an omni-channel approach to offer customers a better value proposition.
Some of the multiple technology trends dominating the fashion firmament include:
By keeping customer experience at the core of operations, AI is helping brands provide personalised products and services. AI assists in predicting fashion trends by tracking social media traffic and comprehending consumer behaviour, providing recommendations as per customers’ previous purchase records, their time spent on browsing specific pages of the brand’s portal and much more. AI minimises the percentage of errors during production, thereby reducing operational costs, enhancing efficiency, augmenting revenues and improving customer experiences. Additionally, AI highlights what is in style for both brands and customers and even aids in predicting emerging styles based on evolving buyer habits.
A rising number of D2C fashion players are employing chatbots for managing customer queries and expanding consumer engagement for cross-selling and upselling. Chatbots are also part of conversational commerce wherein brands use WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to interact directly with consumers to sell clothing.
An online presence is now considered imperative to interact with consumers and sell apparel directly. Besides ensuring better margins, D2C lets brands enjoy better control of customer experiences, complete visibility of consumer data and direct buyer access that fosters higher brand loyalty. Moreover, it assists brands in streamlining future growth strategies as per evolving demand. Through mobile apps and social media platforms, brands can reach out to customers seamlessly when required.
The innovative technology is transforming and safeguarding supply chains by tracking and recording all assets and transactions via a permanent, inviolable database. By allotting every product a unique digital ID, blockchain is boosting supply chain efficiencies. Therefore, products apart, data and documents can also be exchanged safely and securely. Through blockchain, brands can create digital designs, which will be virtually impossible to counterfeit. Blockchain could also have a major role to play in the Metaverse, which is a promising realm for the fashion universe.
This upcoming new realm can be described as the merging of the real and virtual worlds. Here, customers could be offered an immersive experience via VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) while selecting garments. Customers can then “try” out the shortlisted garments in virtual trial rooms. After the selection is made, this can be delivered to them through the brand’s online or offline stores.
In the Metaverse, clothes could be customised as per individual preferences and diverse sizes. For example, a consumer may select a specific style, print design and colour. He or she will then receive numerous computer-generated pictures showing him/her wearing every chosen style. The consumer then places his/her order and enters a 3D measurement booth. A multi-digit size number is generated and sent to a 3D computerised patternmaker. A digital printer produces the requisite 3D print that goes to a micro-factory, which makes a single piece only as per the order.
Once the Metaverse becomes a reality, digital merchandise will come into its own as brands monetise their top products through NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
Another discernible trend is the preference among growing consumer cohorts for garments manufactured through sustainable practices. The emerging trend has immense implications for the fashion fraternity – one of the big contributors to global warming because of the unsustainable practices of fashion fast. This refers to the universal practice of producing clothes quickly by using synthetic fabrics that are cheap but have a heavy carbon trail.
In contrast, slow fashion deploys sustainable manufacturing practices that use environment-friendly materials. Though comparatively costly, these clothes are long-lasting, which means users don’t need to change garments periodically as with fast fashion. Consequently, sustainable fashion brands are steadily gaining prominence due to rising consumer demand.
Must Read: Moving From Fast To Slow Fashion?
Believe it or not, these unique, environmentally-friendly alternatives are made from cacti, pineapples, apples, oranges, bananas, potatoes, mushrooms, algae, nettles and more! Most are produced from the by-products of various industries, which reduces the waste of discarded items and safeguards the Earth’s resources.
For example, Vegea or wine leather is a fabric produced from waste grape skins (derived during winemaking), as well as vegetable oils and other natural fibres of the agro-industry. Then there is nettle fibre, popular with humans in the Bronze Age. Made from nettle plants, the use of nettle fibres declined swiftly after cotton was discovered since the latter is more convenient and easier to grow. Fibre from wild Himalayan nettles is perfect for denim. Best of all, such items are biodegradable.
The above trends make it clear that technological innovations are increasingly driving the shift towards sustainable practices. Simultaneously, they highlight the need to leverage digital tools for maintaining both an online and offline presence that promotes greater brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.