Changing fashion industry trends: Soumajit Bhowmik, CEO & Co-founder, Styched
A brand with which consumers can identify and whose story they espouse will attract more buyers writes Soumajit Bhowmik.
In the fashion industry, there is a parlance that once a fashion trend has been identified, it is already on its way out. The fashion industry evolves with breathtaking speed. The pace at which the industry is developing has been given a further impetus by technology and a transition towards working from home. A few ways fashion industry trends are changing are as follow.
Smart wearables and IoT
In an era where everyday devices are being embedded with smart technology, it was inevitable that intelligent wearables would come along. The demand for and acceptance of smart wearables is surging. Consumers, especially younger tech-savvy ones, expect that technology be incorporated in as many aspects of their lives as possible. Businesses are happy to meet this demand which has led to smart wearables like T-shirts whose graphics are alive or smart socks that count footsteps. Consumers expect their wearables to complement their technology-dependent lifestyles. Firms that deliver intelligent wearables are riding the crest of a rising wave that will soar ever higher in the years ahead.
Consumers are willing to pay extra for smart wearables when they see value in such apparel. They wear clothing all day, every day and expect technology to play a part in their sartorial choices. When such attire collects valuable data, aids in improving posture, or has temperature adjustment features based on the weather, they become products consumers must have. Today smart wearables are aspirational products as they signal that their owner is trendy and successful.
On-demand fashion is letting apparel brands respond to customers' tastes immediately. For too long, many brands seasonally manufactured goods that weren't successful with consumers. A reason for this was that there was no iterative process between consumers and brands that let the latter understand which apparel the former wanted. Without a robust customer feedback mechanism in place, nearly 35%-40% of clothing had to be liquidated
To prevent such wastage, some firms are adopting a production-on-demand model. With this model in place, apparel manufactures can respond instantly to customer demands. This production model leads to zero wastage and produces clothing consumers will love for a lifetime. It puts a brands finger on its consumers' pulse and lets it react to buyers demand with lightning speed.
More rooted fashion
A work from home culture has arrived. Millions across the world are working from home and are likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. Under this blended workplace model, a significant number of employees with work permanently from home. This model will have a massive impact on the fashion industry. Being fashionable in the workplace was taken for granted, now when a significant number of employees work from home, looking good in the office will no longer be a consideration.
Instead of dressing formally, people will prefer wearing casual garments that give them free expression. Think the house dress in a new avatar. Even in the workplace, more people will wear smart casuals, casual wear, and pyjamas. Fashion will transition from being "attention-grabbing" and “in your face” to being more rooted and comfortable. Even in offices that have a button-down dress code, more employees will be seen wearing casual apparel. Hence there will be a shift from impractical and uncomfortable attire to comfortable and rooted clothing.
More and more consumers are growing conscious of their impact on the environment. They are turning to sustainable practices, whether it is burning fewer fossil fuels by shared commuting or cutting down on the use of other natural resources. Increasingly, these same consumers are buying from brands that manufacture clothing using sustainable practices. Brands that employ sustainable practices use a fraction of the natural resources used by companies that manufacture using traditional means. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for apparel manufactured using sustainable practices. They want to buy from companies that are working to make the world a better place.
Increasingly, people want to buy simple clothing like sweatpants which bring out their personality and are easy to maintain. Consumers want to wear apparel that makes them feel comfortable and attractive. There is a move towards self-expression by wearing clothing that is functional as opposed to being a statement. Hence consumers are more likely to wear apparel made of cotton, linen, washable silk, and merino wool and perhaps avoid clothing that has delicate beadwork and lace or complex rayon that stain and shirk.
In the coming years, the narrative an apparel brand can create around its offerings will play a significant role in its success. A brand with which consumers can identify and whose story they espouse will attract more buyers. Such values may include sustainability and high-quality but straightforward apparel that contributes to the wearers' personality.
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