The fashion industry is one that constantly reinvents itself and moves with the times; it’s the reason why some of the biggest fashion houses in Europe are still going, and the reason why new brands pop up all the time through the likes of social media. 2019 is the year where fashion brands will have to make an active effort to keep up, both within their brands and in communicating with consumers. Whether it’s women’s or men’s fashion, the story is the same; it’s a time to be resilient and forward-thinking.

When asked to describe the current fashion landscape, many industry executives used words like ‘changing’, ‘digital’ and ‘fast’. Extensive research has been carried out by Business of Fashion, resulting in some very interesting trends that are fast approaching for those working in fashion.

Research shows the average person buys 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago; but they’re only keeping those clothes for half as long as they used to. In other words, people are consuming fashion faster than ever before, with a younger generation that craves newness.

Dealing with a consumer shift

Retailers now need to keep adapting to suit their customers, with speed-to-market and responsiveness to customer needs both being a top priority. Being able to put products live online, or on the shelves in a physical store, quicker than ever before is a critical success factor. Responding to customer queries, demands and needs should be of the utmost importance if fashion brands are hoping to thrive.  

There is a consumer shift driven by a desire for variety, sustainability and affordability. Customers want speed and convenience when shopping for new clothes. There is also a growing trend of renting products instead of owning outright; think of Spotify and Netflix. The same is happening in fashion, cementing the trend as a fundamental evolution of how people will shop in 2019.

Customers on the hunt for fashion products will often turn to external sources for inspiration; celebrity style or seeing someone on the street, for instance. When trying to replicate that style and finding it online, they struggle. This is one of today’s generation’s biggest pain points in having products readily available and tailored to them.

Matching customer expectations

Today’s consumer is even more aware of social and environmental issues than ever before. What’s more, they are looking to their favourite brands to satisfy a demand for transparency and sustainability. This will become incredibly important to gain trust from customers; particularly the younger generation. Young consumers are increasingly backing their beliefs through their shopping habits; buying from those brands that align with their own values, and shunning the ones that don’t.

Fashion brands need to start taking a stance on social and environmental issues; but it has to be authentic. The savvy consumer can tell when something is simply a gimmick to gain their attention for the purpose of selling products. For example; Nike actively supported Colin Kaepernick who became the face of the NFL’s anthem protests. Similarly, ASOS launched an exclusive lingerie line to raise money for Help Refugees.

Customers today are also looking for better value for money. The market continues to be incredibly saturated, and together with reviews and the ability to compare prices, shoppers are looking for the best deal; even those on 6-figure salaries.

Challenging the status quo

Today’s fashion retailers are emerging in an area where they must push the boundaries and go the extra mile to succeed; with so many competitors, footfall in physical shops continues to decline as many retailers move to an online space. Encompassing an omnichannel approach can increase chances of success.

Social media in particular is an important part of being able to answer to consumer demand; giving brands a voice and a more personable approach in dealing with an audience. It’s something that is helping smaller brands to grow; with up and coming brands more likely to challenge the usual conventions. Social media has levelled the playing field, allowing smaller brands to compete with the established names through communication and branding.

Speaking of established names, heritage brands are also looking for new ways to challenge their usual attitude. Turning to new trends like streetwear, these well-known names are recreating their image; Louis Vuitton appointing Virgil Abloh as creative director is possibly the biggest example of this.

2019 is set to be a good year for brands; not without its testing times. Both luxury fashion and value brands are in for a positive 12 months, as long as resilience plays a key part moving forward.