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Discussing main fashion technology trends in 2016, we have tried to make a wrap for you!
As we are getting closer to the end of the year, I would like to share with you our experience about the most important technology and socio-behavioral drivers that have shaped and influenced the fashion industry in 2016. This year has been exciting as far as many aspects are concerned, but I think we should start by discussing the technology enabling drivers first. Here we go!
E-commerce goes mainstream.
Today e-commerce has finally reached the long-awaited acceptance by brands in fashion and luxury. 29% of executives see e-commerce as one of the biggest opportunity of 2016, according to the latest survey from McKinsey alongside Business OF Fashion magazine. Moreover, in the United States 14% of apparel sales were online based, while 66% were offline but influenced by online stores, confirming the importance of online for in-store purchases.
Internet of things.
Making everything connected, namely smart, is an increasingly appealing deal. With IoT, almost everything, from house furnitures to automotive, can embed an IP address and sensors capable of receiving or transmitting information. Collect, process, analyze, and give results promptly. And we know this is just the beginning of a new era.
An unprecedented level of information is at your disposal nowadays. Partly a consequence of IoT, big data refer to the possibility to use this massive dataset to gather an incredible level of detailed and rich information. Naturally, data about consumers are also gathered online where they (we) can be easily and precisely traced. New opportunities are handy for marketers and brands.
Reading customers minds is the next step? In a simplistic way, AI refers to a machine which mimics cognitive functions typical of humans, such as learning and problem solving. Hence all the data that are produced, gathered and stored can also be interpreted real time by machines.
Socio-behavioral drivers have played an important part this year to further boost the tech scenario, too. Any examples? You can find plenty, in many industries, from finance to fashion, 2016 has seen a lot of opportunities growing. No further ado, let’s go ahead!
Living on-the-go has a direct reflection on the way we use the tools we have, of course. Mobility does not refers only to the possibility to make every daily operations through our smartphone. It also amplifies and solidifies the own concept of flexibility and “on-the-go”. Our smartphones have let ourselves confortable to live with. We do not only browse news or share pictures, but purchase and discover more and more from the net.
“I know what I want, therefore I deserve it.”: this is the way many customers behave. Nowadays they are used to the different funnels that the online scenarios present, and they know very well that they must be treated to an unprecedented level of quality service. They are educated and they want to learn more and more about what they are buying and to make their own choices in terms of brands and styles. This is why we stress the concept of customer-centric approach.
“How can I create a positive impact with my choices?” It might seem counterintuitive but although the importance of self, people, especially millennials, are deeply involved in sustainability and impact. In fact, 36% of millennials says that a primary purpose of a business should be to improve society. According to a recent study from Boston Consulting Group, 10% of millennials luxury consumers stated that they are ready to leave a brand if not sustainable.
Mixing all these drivers together and applying those to the fashion and luxury world, here some of the main trends we have seen in the shopping windows, in the e-store and on the catwalks in 2016. These are just the premises for a bubbling yet mysterious 2017, which will be influenced by the dramatic changes provided by the fast-paced environment we live in. We are not for taking unfair bets, but we can see next year will be possibly mesmerizing for fashion technology, yet dominated by a lot of uncertainty. For sure, these will be the main trends to follow on.
This year, we have seen lot of startups offering their customers the possibility to almost design from scratch and purchase online jeans, shirt, suits, and so on. You can literally find and customize all possible fashion categories, from apparel to accesories. Interesting enough, starting in 2016 also established brands have tried to include in their marketing offer some sort of personalization to make the customer feeling like he oversees co-creating his own purchase choice. In 2017, we can easily see how the trend will be stronger than that.
Physical stores have looked at two main objectives. First, creating new experiences to attract customers inside the stores. Think of mart mirrors, virtual fitting rooms and interactive videos, all these tools have shyly entered the stores. In Milan, OVS being one of the pioneers adopting those technologies, we’ve seen a good use of aforementioned technologies. Second, gathering detailed information about customers. Systems that understand customers’ behavior and activities inside the stores, and real time analytics of customers’ feelings while watching specific products have been tested, but these are not yet being adopted at a mainstream level. In 2017, maybe?
If some wearable tech products have found its way to market especially in the sportswear, brands and customers are really getting into smart textiles, where the technology is not visible anymore but totally embedded into clothes. Google and Levi’s have launched the Jacquard project which makes it possible to interact with any textile using standard, industrial looms, thanks to conductive yarns and miniaturized electronics. The first product released is the Commuter™ Trucker Jacket that allows to make and answer phone calls and much more.
See now, buy now.
A more demanding consumer is increasingly interested in immediate gratification. This assumption has influenced the increase in the speed of delivery of newly released collections. Several brands, such as Burberry, Tom Ford, and Tommy Hilfiger, in 2016 have introduced the collection in their stores right after the fashion shows. In some cases, it was possible to purchase online at the same time the catwalk was busy to present the collection itself.
This year has also been the year of the revamp of sustainability. Finally it seems the trend is here to stay, instead of fading anytime soon. Several initiatives have been launched by brands which we were not used to associate with sustainable impact. Think of the liks of H&M, that with its recycling campaign has collected more than 12,000 tonnes of garments in 2015. We have also encountered startups betting on the “renting and sharing clothing” business models to reduce wastes of clothes. More to come in 2017, indeed.
2016 has seen influencers marketing explode, with 86% of marketers having used the tactic, 94% of whom found it effective. Several have also been the attempts by startups to create platforms to have friends recommending products, which is perceived by customers as the most reliable and transparent sources, but this is not yet adopted at large scale.
This is our market watch for 2016, and some predictions for 2017 are more than natural. Feel free to add your point of view in the comments section, and, if you think I have forget something, please let me know!