As usual, there are a whole host of fashion shows, talks, expo’s and networking events taking place across the capital. Celebrating some of the finest creative talent in the UK fashion industry, while providing a glimpse of those all-important wardrobe essentials for when the weather turns chilly, again!
The past twelve months have proven to be interesting if not turbulent times for fashion industry and other types of retail, as consumer attitudes towards spending continue to evolve.
While some statistics demonstrate a decline in sales, the trend towards online shopping has continued to gather momentum. A trend that brings with it both positive and negative ramifications.
On the downside, for the past year news headlines have been awash with reports on the decline in retail spending and major department and chain store closures.
Documentaries highlighting the death of the high street do nothing to instil confidence. Instead, the portrayal of an almost inevitable damp squib when it comes to the future of UK high streets, paints a very bleak picture.
In response, fashion and lifestyle retailers alike are urged to respond to changing times and attitudes when it comes to how consumers choose to shop, in order to stay relevant, or face being left behind.
On the upside, despite the excruciatingly pessimistic doom and gloom surrounding the future of UK high streets, for the not so short sighted, exciting times lay ahead.
According to the Retail Gazette sustainability, technology, customer experience and customer loyalty are all key trends to look out in 2020.
Research shows that consumers want to see far greater sustainability within fashion and other industries, as the debate around global warming and the need to reduce carbon emissions becomes ever more apparent.
In todays’ age of consumerism, we are consuming the planets’ natural resources at a pace that it simply cannot keep up with. In most developed countries, the concept of fast fashion has enabled consumers to buy the latest styles much cheaper than ever before, with a much faster turnaround.
Of course, the impact this has made on the environment speaks for itself, in the number of freak weather conditions and natural disasters that dominate our headlines.
In response to this, action is required now before its too late. One major fashion retailer taking steps towards the creation of a circular fashion industry, where natural resources are used responsibly, waste is recycled effectively and workers are treated fairly is the H&M Group.
Founders of the Global Change Award for innovation a platform that provides exposure and recognition for ground breaking developments in the textile industry. Innovations such as; fabric made out of orange peel and algae, or plant- based leather made from grape residue. These are just two examples however the 2020 competition has attracted some 5893 entrants from 175 countries worldwide. The winners for this years’ competition will be announced in April this year, so watch this space!
Businesses that grasp the importance of technological advancement undoubtedly fair better than those that don’t. Personalisation is very much order of the day, as companies use AI to transform large amounts of complex data into enriched practical insights, saving costs, time and resources.
From predictive forecasting that can lead to inventory reductions, to personalised store fronts displaying goods based on the unique characteristics of each customer, potential and future uses of AI in fashion is vast. Equally AR is helping to reshape the fashion industry, where examples including the Adidas Smart Mirror and Gaps’ DressingRoom enable users to ‘virtually’ try on clothing before making a purchase.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the IOT where again, use of data insights helps various forms of digital media to get products straight to target audiences. The benefits of using social media and social influencers like Zoella Zeebo or Emma Hill, who have millions of followers between them also pays dividends.
However, technological advancements in fashion are not limited to desktop or mobile device applications. Developments in nanotechnology and smart fabrics such as wearable solar fashion and emotion sensing dresses that can light up and change colour according to your mood are just two more out of many examples, of what the future has in store when it comes to fashion.
Technological advancement has indeed influenced and greatly advanced user experience in fashion where personalised content marketing based on individual preference saves time and creates more convenience for shoppers. Tap and go contactless card payments help reduce waiting times at check out; and the integration of augmented reality adopted by stores such as Zara where consumers can use their smart phone in shop windows to view their latest clothing lines and purchase said garment using the same app all adds to the bargain.
In fact, in direct response to the need to change the way in which fashion retailers attract customers to their physical outlets, customer experience is at the top of the list.
According to Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, parent company of Westfield shopping centres, in the not so distant future, over 50% of retail space will be dedicated to new customer experiences. As consumers continue to veer towards the ease and convenience of online shopping, retailers and department stores will need something more to entice consumers to their physical outlets. Whether that is through the introduction of more click and collect services or something a bit more sophisticated, ‘Retailtainment’ or mixed reality will play a big part in shopping experiences for the future. Enabling far more creativity for both large scale and smaller retailers with some imagination.
In todays’ extremely competitive, fast paced fashion industry, customers expect more for their money and incentives to keep coming back. Loyalty cards, discounts, exclusive previews and private viewings of new collections, invites to special events are just a few ways to entice customers again and again. Although it has to be said that the best way to initiate customer retention is to ensure they have a great experience the first time around, after all first impressions count.
That being said, changing with the times often means that businesses need to invest time, money or both, to purchase better equipment or create better systems in order to improve. For some small businesses this may mean applying for a non-repayable grant to help with the costs of fixtures and fittings, or research and development for a product prototype. For others it may involve raising other forms of finance such as a business loan or equity investment, or seeking professional advice in order create a plan for the future.
That’s where we can help, Newable have a range of support services to accommodate businesses of all different shapes and sizes. Whether its raising finance, help to internationalise or affordable work space, to find out more about what we do see.