Digital disruption is disrupting every sector we can possibly think of and resulting in changes previously unimagined. In this spectrum it would be impossible for the fashion industry to remain unaffected. On the contrary, it is rapidly advancing towards the changes brought by digitization and embracing those changes.
Designers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry are using VR and the social media to bring experiences previously restricted to those privileged enough to attend Fashion Weeks and catwalks to the masses. Instagram and Periscope give average consumers and influencers instant access to new trends and fashion items the moment they appear on the runway. Just as Twitter has become central to politics, Instagram is today’s shop window and Periscope the runway turning future trends into today’s conversation. Moreover designers have the possibility of directly connecting with their fans and happily respond to it.
Technology has enabled consumers to have more access to information and future trends. In doing so, it has turned them into demanding recipients that want to make informed decisions on what they buy. Similarly, fashion designers have access to data and can accordingly use predictive analytics to produce today future trends. As founder and CEO of Berlin-based fashion retailer Lesara, Roman Kirsch, pointed out we are entering the age of agile retail, “a direct-to-consumer model that leverages smart data to predict trends, manage highly efficient production cycles, and achieve lightning fast turnaround on emerging styles.” Moreover, the use of big data and predictive analytics might significantly reduce the gap between what is needed and what is actually produced. Presently it is estimated that companies produce 30% more than what is needed.
On the other hand the whole customer experience cycle and the relationship with the physical store is changing. The physical store will not disappear but it will have to review its role and the services it offers its customers. Today’s hyper connected consumers seek customer experiences that are the outcome of a balanced fusion of the digital and the physical. The very physical nature of the store has to be reevaluated. Indeed retailers need to adjust and redesign the shopping experience they offer their customers. In this context, physical shops will become hubs offering their customers services such as events and workshops that go beyond the actual goods. According to Westfield How we Shop Now Retail Expert, Liz Crawford from Match Marketing Group, retail outlets can become learning environments since they offer the opportunity for brand immersion that is impossible to happen only by digital interaction.
One thing is certain, consumers seek more personalized experiences. At the same time, they want their needs to be catered for faster and earlier. The fashion industry has realized this and it is bringing the “process of discovery to the 21st century: with visual search, virtual and artificial intelligence enabled personal shopping and remote “try before they buy” fittings with 3D visualisation.” Soon we will see the styles we dream of and need become available before we’ve even realized we wanted them.