Fashion is forever changing. Something which is trending today might go out of trend after a week. So if someone is in the clothing retail business, they need to be alert all the time and track the trends and changes in buyer’s sentiments all the time.
For example, the current war situation between Russia and Ukraine has impacted the fashion industry adversely. Many fashion brands like Bvlgari, Dior, H&M Group, Mango, Zara, Marks & Spencer, Asos, Boohoo Group, JD Sports Fashion and Nike have closed their stores in the malls of Russia and have even stopped the online portal for Russians. Now obviously this will impact the clothing retail industry adversely. By the time the war is over and these brands again open their shops, their stocks would be outdated.
This is just one example which talks volumes about how fast the retail fashion goes ‘’out of fashion.’’ There are many such examples which we can think of to understand how important it is to remain relevant in the fashion industry.
Some of the recent changes in the fashion clothing retail
Garment manufacturing units across the globe were badly impacted due to the global COVID 19 pandemic for the last two years. The factory workers could not visit their workplaces due to the complete or partial lockdowns imposed by the governments of every country. Since this type of work cannot be converted into a work from home environment, the factories had to keep their shutters closed. During prolonged periods of lockdown, there was no production and the manufacturers had to bear the maintenance costs, electricity costs even though there was no income. They had to pay the workers partially so that they can survive.
The workers lost their employment in many garment manufacturing companies across the globe had to close down or file for bankruptcy. The workers had to survive on social security or provident fund money which they had to withdraw.
As per the latest report by the reputed consultancy firm McKinsey, the global fashion industry has started its journey to its revival. The supply chains which were badly disrupted in the last two years are again starting to function slowly.
1. Customer engagement- Customer engagement through face-to-face feedback gathering in a retail store or trial room, was always considered an important way to catch the pulse of the latest trends. Now with the hyper usage of social media, that space has transcended to the digital age. Sending push mails, coupons to redeem, feedback surveys etc. all are a way to engage with them and helping them with brand recognition and brand recall.
A new term which has been coined in the clothing retail space in the last few months is ''trivergence of retail.” The customers are looking for information, convenience and entertainment, and the companies which are able to achieve it are reporting better sales figure for that quarter.
2. Exhibition galleries- Retail stores are converting their visual display to something like the art galleries. The way new artists take them on rent for a few days to showcase their creativity and then the wares change after a few days.
The retail stores in some of the progressive places are experimenting with this trend.
Clothing retail stores like Deuxieme Classe in Osaka, Japan or Birdhouse in Tokyo keep on changing their themes and include new collections every now and then. Once in every eight weeks, the entire look of the clothing store will change and fashion businesses will feel that they have reached some other place.
The millennials and Gen Y population have very short attention spans and this approach is working with them very well. In New York’s Chelsea district, which is famous for its clothing retail concepts is launching concept collections like “Home for the Holidays”, ''Easter Fun,'' “Love,” ''Spring is in the air,'' “Made in America,” ''Christmas Galore'' etc. They not only decorate the store as per the theme, they unfurl the entire storyline using their merchandise.
3. Genderless creations- The broad division between clothing for men and women is diminishing in the fashion world and the clothing retail industry is moving towards manufacturing unisex clothes.
For example the famous English singer and actor flaunted multiple unisex clothes during the Harry Styles Vogue 2020 photoshoot. The gender neutral clothing trend is taking the retail fashion by storm.
4. Experimneting with the masks- The global pandemic added a new accessory to everyone’s wardrobe, the mask. The celebrities have been taking it to a new height by matching them with each of their outfits.
Grammy 2021 saw the stylish display of matching masks by the celebrities like Meghan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, Finneas, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Chika, Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, Noah Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Phoebe Bridgers and all the other celebrities took to this new fashion trend.
As you can see in this picture, Taylor Swift sported a similar look to her ex-boyfriend Harry Styles. She wore a dress which had big flowers stitched to it. She matched her thigh-length dress with a matching mask.
She was extremely happy when her ex-boyfriend won his first Grammy award this year. Taylor was always known to sport glamorous outfits and this year’s Oscar de la Renta gown too was not an exception.
5. Data is the King- Gone are the days when the designers used to design and the fashion connoisseurs used to wear whatever they designed. Now the fashion brands use data-driven approach to understand customer preferences. This is the new mantra for clothing retail which started picking pace almost a decade back.
Now the designers do through due diligence before they launch a collection. Today, in this fast-moving fashion retail market, the brands and retailers have to keep their fingers on the pulse of their customers to stay fully relevant. They need to work twice as hard to keep their customers loyal to their brand as the competition is much more fierce compared to what it was two decades back.
Fashion houses like Marni, Stitch Fix and Miu Miu use data analytics to find sreas of opportunities in their collections.
6. Sustainable fashion- The fashion industry was labelled as non-eco-friendly by the biologists and environmentalists for a long time now. Consumers have become extremely aware and they started boycotting brands where the workers were treated badly.
The sweatshops in China started facing fierce opposition from the American citizens who were their major consumers. They textile industry needed to adopt measures to reduce their carbon footprint during the process of fabric manufacturing. In most countries they had to stop the unethical practice of dumping their industrial waste in water bodies.
Hence the companies which use organic means to grow their natural fibers, treat their workers well and do not pollute the environment only will survive and flourish in the next decade. Others will perish.
7. Emergence of social influencers- The Gen Y is always glued to their smartphones and tablets and they are the major consumers of the fashion industry. They often follow social influencers on their Instagram and YouTube accounts and go by their verdict when it comes to their buying decisions.
The clothing retail brands have to lure these social influencers by sending them free merchandise of good quality and request them to give good reviews about their collections. This trend will further pick up in the days to come and the competition between social influencers will fiercely increase to bloat up their fan base.
8. Emergence of street fashion- In the last few decades street fashion has become extremely popular. Even celebrities and dignitaries have embraced street fashion in the clothing retail industry.
Since now work-from-home and hybrid working models have emerged bigtime, the fashion houses have to come up with comfortable yet fashionable options for the office workers. Since they are not physically present in the office premises, they would not be interested in formal clothing. In the last two decades even the corporates have relaxed the dress codes and have started allowing their employees to wear casuals on weekdays.
Designers like Jerry Lorenzo have fashionably embedded it in their creations and it is the responsibility of the current generation of designers to carry that legacy forward. His short-sleeved hoodies and flared track pants were comfortable and he gave a new dimension to loungewear. His brand ‘’Fear of God’’ pretty much has become a style to reckon with in the current times.
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