Will the fashion industry carry on mostly as it has in the past 10 years after the coronavirus ends? Or, will it evolve slightly and basically bounce along the same-old tired path it has been trudging along? Or, will it explode into an exciting new time of creativity and rebirth?
One thing is certain, the industry had better be working hard right now to get ready for the new world that is going to emerge. To be sure, there will be lingering problems from the immense destruction caused by the pandemic. The exciting opportunity rising from the ashes of this disaster will be to get back into the game stronger and more relevant with the benefit of the pent-up needs of stuck-at-home consumers worldwide to get dressed again. And digitalization.
Who Creates Fashion?
The fashion world at the beginning of the 2020 decade is in a race for survival both health-wise and economically. Fashion today is influenced from the outside in, as opposed to fashions of the 70s, 80s, and 90s that were created from the inside out. Designers in past decades inspired consumers with exciting new designs. Today, with such a plethora of information available to consumers, the customer is dictating to brands what she wants.
There is one thing for sure that the pandemic will leave in its wake: the creation process for new fashions will explode. We are entering into a whole new world bustling with creative energy to get back to a new business.
Post-pandemic, fashion will become a combination of designer driven styles with the consumer being able to personalize it. There is one thing for sure that the pandemic will leave in its wake: the creation process for new fashions will explode. We are entering into a whole new world bustling with creative energy to get back to new business.
Retail, Moving Forward
Department store flagships in large cities and malls will not be driving growth in the future. Smaller suburban stores will pick up the growth slack with multiple platforms, online and off, offering ways for consumers to customize their fashions. These “stores” may not even be made of freestanding brick and mortar. They will be built to integrate with local architecture in mixed-use spaces. This evolution of personalization will be all the more immediate with same-day or next-day delivery.
- Advances in the digitalization of commerce will provide the same customer services that you can only get in a store while being waited upon in person. Sales representatives and personal shoppers will available via Zoom or other technologies to help customers.
- The integration of digital and stores will be seamless, with inventory fulfilled from central warehouses that can turn on a dime to deliver each customer’s wishes. This will require retailers to forge new collaborations with vendors who will have to adapt to the new distribution model.
- A post-pandemic customer will have the ability to choose a basic style, in any color, with preferred sleeve or hemline length. Through digitalization, this level of customization can be delivered both in store or online and delivered to the customer the next day.
At the mass-market end of the fashion business, limited customization will also be possible. The big box stores will dramatically up their game in digitalization. Promotion and marketing efforts will become more and more regional and community-based.
From a brand perspective, marketing internationally will be especially important coming out of the pandemic. Brands will concentrate on international markets that are the first to open up and use these early openers as test cases providing concepts and ideas for future sales efforts.
Next Wave of Marketing Messaging
Marketing strategies ranging from product placements in movies on demand, online games, TV shows and social media will be high on the agenda. Designers will hold virtual fashion trunk shows as well as host direct sales events with a dozen or more customers in their homes. Customers will crave the interaction and level of personal service, both real and virtual.
Currently, the fashion media is boring itself to death. The big fashion magazines lost most of their clout when they began favoring their big advertisers in editorial content. Social media has planted the final stake in their hearts. Exacerbating this situation, there is a lack of really good fashion editors in the media today. The top editors in chief of the glossy fashion press are really advertising and circulation executives with just enough taste to make their magazines and sites look attractive.
To a significant degree, fashion influencers on social media have taken over the fashion media leadership. However, like the fashion print business, many of these influencers are losing their credibility by being paid by fashion houses to back their brands.
Watch for a brilliant fashion editor/influencer to get together with a major social media site and become the new interpreter of what’s important in the fashion world, eclipsing the traditional fashion magazine. Additionally, magazine brands will create their own fashion lines successfully if they have the genius to get it right.
The transition to the new world of fashion will be horrendously difficult. But remember, the Roaring Twenties followed the 1918 flu pandemic!