Fast fashion is not ethical, we all know that, but we still consume it! Why? I guess, same as with COVID19, the problem seemed to be far away, somewhere in China. And the same happens with non-sustainable fashion. My niece is not the Indonesian child in the sweatshop.
This is about to change, as most crises the change will come with a financial impact. I have been speaking with artists, creative minds, kick-ass entrepreneurs and fashion designers to think of future landscapes and how the world we know could – and actually should – change. We feel this is an opportunity to reset and change those dynamics we know are toxic – emotionally and environmentally – hence why I am exploring potential trends post-COVID19 in the fashion industry!
Consumer will move from high volume to high quality, or maybe not!
Be green | This is not a new trend, we have seen more people turning the back to brands like Primark and Zara, embracing secondhand shops and sustainable brands. Therefore, while the dollar was shifting pockets, they started creating their organic lines. Examples such as Join Life from Zara or Conscious from H&M are interesting. I do applaud these initiatives; they are money driven but they have a positive impact. In fact, I know design teams (denim, casual, kids…) get their bonus depending on how conscious their collections have been created during the year at INDITEX (Zara group). So again, put the dollar where you want things to be implemented and changed. They have a scale from A-D of how environmentally friendly the teams have managed to create the items, taking in consideration the full production chain. The more conscious the higher the bonus. Kudos to that!
Second Lives | We may see though, that platforms like Nextdoor or Market Place will take over massively in the coming months. Firstly, because as we will all be at home for a few weeks, some of us are going to clean and organise and realise how much stuff we have. I expect sites such as Preloved and other online communities to boom. While social distancing – which I want to rename to physical distancing – will make second-hand markets less of an ideal Sunday morning plan, we will see this translated into the online space.
Direct client input | For small fashion brands this could mean that they will have to offer other services such as modifying old collections. Offering their clients to bring their old clothes back and doing modifications to make them fashionable again. This service would add up to another trend we will explore later which is, shopping versus experiences. I also believe they may have more capsule collections, much more client feedback driven collections so that they can leverage the client interaction (online or offline) and make relevant items. This is an opportunity for small companies to create a software solution in which clients might be able to build their own items with a set of shapes. The cost of these collections might be higher, but we will ensure as consumers that we are having a unique piece that has been created in a sustainable way.
Niche & Capsule | We will also expand our interests. I expect sport gear and hobby related gear to boom. Through this quarantine most us have experienced the need to be and stay active, get creative and discover new things to do. We may have developed new interests and started to be curious about other sports/activities, which means that they could be the opportunity for more niche driven collections, specific to certain activities that might not have been mainstream before.
Communities will be key | Maybe after all, there won’t be a drop in volume but a shift in what we buy. And if this is the case, big companies will adapt to it much better than SMB, as they can try out small collections and test the market with lower margins. In order for the smaller companies to survive I believe they will need to unite forces. Communities will have to created and the collaboration across brands will have to be greater. Sharing the sewing workshops, buying fabrics together in batch and finding solutions like 3D printing or handprints to do those capsule collections will be key. Are communities sustainable long-term, was I asked. I think that if small to medium companies want to exist – one way of surviving in a very hostile industry – will be getting together with likeminded people and investing in resources as communities to see return of investment faster.
Scratch Fashion – it’s a way of life now!
Educate your clients | With social media, we have gained something very powerful, a little peephole into people’s life. The trend from selling items to selling a lifestyle is very real. You either follow the Kardashian’s and all they lifestyle habits or you do not care about them at all. It seems like there is no middle ground. Which means that as consumers, we consume the whole idea of a brand. This is why the previous point is so important, when we shop, we care about the stories behind the brand. Employer value propositions and brand values are super important nowadays. We want to feel good when we wear something, and we like to know we are following brands that reflect our values as people. But on the other hand, brands shape and educate us too. As Tatiana Robles, CEO of Laetitia is saying in this video, we do need to educate our consumers, our clients. As the brand owner you are the specialist, so you need to tell your clients what is good and what is bad for you and the world.
It is a way of life |This means we are creating gangs, crews, collectives, fans, communities, we are not selling mere things anymore. After the COVID19 I expect people to be more radical in their views, which I anticipate will raise the number of communities that will come together to have a more niche experience. We all have been sitting on the table for Christmas with cousins and uncles that see the world so differently to us. We spend time with them because they are family, but truly we would rather be in a different room. So now, fashion is not only fashion, it’s make-up and health and ethical values. After the crisis I foresee this to be even more important than ever.
Technology, please come and save us!
AI is our friend | The amount of scary AI and robots blogs out there is very daunting. Literally scaring the blue-collar workers to death – it feels like sustainable businesses are not a realistic landscape. But technology should be out friend and in fact I believe is one of the answers to finding a way of creating sustainable garments in this new world.
e-Commerce is a great way to reach to more people. Yes, we will see more online shops or companies putting their stuff on online platforms. I also expect, as I said before, to have more individuals selling second hand-cloths online. Which means that the e-Commerce companies will grow. We have internet and for now the COVID19 does not come to our homes via broadband. Strong CRM solutions and project management solutions are also increasingly important. Throughout this crisis we have seen some of companies to be more resilient to the stock crash than the others.
Every layer counts – packaging does too | Now, e-Commerce opens a whole chapter about packing, we know it is very damaging for the world. I expect brands to make a massive investment in software to optimise production but also look at proximity and get products that are in the vicinity of the end customer. Which hopefully will lead to more unique voices and less big fashion trends
Technology will improve the manufacturing of fabrics to be more environmental-friendly, consume less water and have a fairer production chain. We are already using old fashion items to create new ones, which means the recycling system within fashion is working hard to be more sustainable. There are some really cool brands that are working on new fabrics, textile technology that will adapt to the climate change. For example, smart fabrics that read out temperature – this would have been very handy in this crisis. And why not, a flashback to the past, focus on fabrics that could be made out of organic materials and be biodegradable. There is an obsession about durability that we could swap for degradability. With capsule collections this idea could be even more relevant. What if I plant my old t-shirt and it creates compost for my garden? In the paragraph above I was talking about packaging needing a full chapter, but just another short digress, packaging should have a purpose – beyond bringing something to my door step – how can we make packaging that is reusable, biodegradable or even “plantable”.
Average salaries becoming more average. What do we do if we lose the middle-class?
Your average consume might not be middle class anymore| This is the bad news; some people expect middle class economies to decrease. Will this impact fashion? Yes, I expect so, same as it shall impact all industries. Fast fashion exists because people “need” new cheap cloths. If the social financial demographics get even more divided, affordable fashion will be more important than ever. I have two hypotheses: technology will enable us to make sustainable fashion cheaper, and I believe that at some point we will all expect our items to be bio or recycled. That will be the status quo. There will be a time of adaptation in which some households will be financially impacted and there will be a need for cheap items.
I do it myself |The second hypothesis is that, we all wake up. And while there will be a time of adjustments and imparity due to people having lost their business or jobs, we will focus on second hand alternatives and support SMBs to enable them to open again. There will be a going back to self-sufficiency in all segments of life: we might learn how to do our own cloth, customise items we have at home and fashion modifications will be more common.
Rent a dress! Yes, you are hearing it properly, you can rent cloths too. Big cities like London have almost no closets, no space to keep the volume of items we have. With this introspective trend, in which environmental is key and money will also be important, I expect those companies to become more common. Too many ad hoc events for which you need a look although you will be wearing it an average of 4 hours. We can do better – we can rethink the way we consume.
Consumer, this one is on you| Summarising it all, there must be a new way of doing fashion with local, sustainable products but it also needs to be pushed by the consumer. We as consumers need to be ethical and see the bigger pictures: it is not about having a lot of items, nor changing looks all the time, it is about being proud of the brand we wear and the impact it has in the world. We can try to ensure that the small to medium business do not ran out of opportunities in this very challenging financial time. If you are getting a dress, try to support those brands that have a family behind them for example. Or rent it out or ask a friend to lent you one. Or modify last years dress to something new with help of a professional, might cost you the same but you are helping the community. It is important to make brands accountable for their behaviour in good and bad times. But the same applies to us consumers. Which takes me to a final thought: are you up for a real change and to make a difference or will you let the big brands get back to the old bad ways? We will be exploring the impact around Human Resources more in details in the piece “Can HR be human after COVID19”.
- Be green
- Second life for all items
- Client input
- Niche and capsule
- Community will be key
- Educate your clients
- Way of life not a trend
- AI is your friend
- Packaging also counts
- Technology will optimise production chain and lower cost
- Less fashion spends per household but different ways to stay trendy
- Rent a dress
- Do it yourself
They say most successful people wear uniforms, same style, some type of cloths, under the mantra that “Making pointless decisions CRIPPLES performance”. I try to do the same and so I have always dreamt of having one pair of jeans, one turtleneck pullover and a pair of boots which color I could change daily by pressing a button. Are we far from that reality?
Feel free to share your views with me on twitter @AliciaRoy__ or LinkedIn!