In the first week on November 2019, American fashion designer Zac Posen, closed his business – House of Z – for good. For many of us who have seen him rise popularly in the fashion industry since 2001, Zac Posen has not only been a recent favorite judge on reality show Project Runway, but has also been an inspiration to young aspiring designers since the last 20 years. Reports say the business closed its doors due to a failure in finding new investors and buyers.
In September 2019, fast fashion empire “Forever 21” – filed for bankruptcy, and is currently restructuring its business. In many parts of the fashion world, retail rents are falling sharply; and the departmental store model is dying continuously. Undoubtedly, a lot is happening in the fashion sphere, forcing existing players to rethink, reshape and re-strategize.
Fashion analysts are starting to once again understand the industry from the scratch. A new consumer is rising, who responds to products differently and buys consciously. Gender lines are blurring, and therefore consumer segments are evolving. Technology is leaning towards an overall experience and ‘inclusivity’ is todays leading zeitgeist.
Before we put together our Fashion Trend Report of 2019, let’s first have a quick recap of all that defined fashion in 2018:
CONSUMER SHIFT:Who is the modern consumer and how they shop?
Millennials: A demographic cohort born between 1982 and 1999, also commonly referred to as Generation Y. Witnessed major events like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Global War on Terror and the Great Recession in their formative years, and grew up in an era of technology, with access to unlimited amounts of information through the growth of internet.
According to a research by Forbes, “many millennials graduated when unemployment was high, jobs were scarce and salaries were lower (even though the cost of living was higher), all while shouldering massive debt from student loans. Many had to take jobs for which they were over-qualified, move back into their childhood homes (37% have done this) or delay things like marriage and children for financial reasons.”
Given all this history, millennials shop differently. They make purchases that fulfil their need to give back – through brands like TOMS which follow the one-for-one business model. They also prefer to spend their money on experiences over material things, and are willing to pay extra for it. Millennials also use social media at a platform to voice their options and hence get attracted to brands who actively engage, and address pain points immediately. Wellness, and connection is important to this category of consumers and therefore they instantly appreciate when brands make campaigns that resonate with them and launch connections that are more than just cheap merchandise.
Genration Z: Demographic cohort born between 1995 and 2014, following the millennial generation. Born into a post-digital world that makes technology the center of their lives, an aid they cannot function without. According to a report by IBM researchers, the Gen Z is growing up in a “fluid digital world, in which the boundaries between their physical and online lives have converged. That has helped them grow up savvy, educated and self-reliant.”
Considering that by 2020, one-third of the US population will be Gen Z – this generation will bring yet another major shift in retail. The core characteristics of a Gen Z shopper are – they have higher expectations, but lesser patience. Gen Z kids are born influencers, who are not as price conscious as their previous generations. They are great multi-taskers with the knowledge of jumping from one digital device / app to another in a matter of seconds.How is Gen Z different from the Millennials?
Gen Zers are evidently different from the Millennials, highlighted in our fashion trend report. While the Gen Z is raised by Gen X parents, the millennials are born to baby boomers – which defines a clear difference in parenting styles and hence their basic upbringing. Gen Z grew up with the Youtube culture, and therefore it impacts on how they view celebrities and who they consider to be influential – leading to a growing importance of their Instagram / social media image. Nearly 92% of Gen Z has a digital footprint and act more entrepreneurly when it comes to their career choices.
KEY FASHION-BUSINESS TRENDS 2018: What is the new fashion system we are dealing with?
- “Digitalization” across the value chain is the new state of fashion.
- Social media image is driving how fashion is bought and sold. Celebrities and “influencers” are taking new fashion concepts mainstream – promoting them with an audience which is more connected to brands through their Instragram profiles than traditional digital platforms.
- While the traffic in the brick-and-mortar stores continues to fall, brands are revamping the in-store experiences dramatically. With “experiential retail” being the keyword, one can easily imagine a retail space that is both a hangout spot and an area to experience and connect with peers, than to just shop.
- In an urgent need to innovate, business models are increasingly becoming more entrepreneurial and “startup thinking” is the new buzzword while planning business strategies.
- “Social campaigns” with a cause and an awareness message are the new marketing tools to grab the attention of the new consumer who is more socially conscious than ever before. (Click to read more on the top social media campaigns changing beauty perceptions.)
- The entire supply chain is asking – how “sustainably conscious” are you today? Shoppers are consistently re-evaluating their fashion choices based on what kind of impact they want to leave on the planet. Giving back to the society is key. Our fashion trend report 2019 will extensively talk about sustainability as an evolving concept.
- Technology is becoming a seamless part of fashion. “Artificial intelligence (AI), automation and smart clothing” are a growing reality now.
- “Customization, personalization and direct-to-consumer” are the new features to connect with a consumer who is more individualistic today in style and lifestyle choices.
- Industries as well as the product itself is becomes more “inclusive”, with a “collaborative” approach to business on the rise. (Click to read more on the top inclusivity campaigns combating stereotypes.)
CATEGORY SHIFT TO ‘GENDER NEUTRAL’:Growing emergence of a third market segment – a unisex one.
The LGBT community globally is fighting hard for its rights and is winning. Transgender is slowly but steadily being recognized as a third gender today. Both male and female binaries are questioning their traditional roles in society – as lines continue to blur between their images. While women are taking on roles which were once defined for a patriarchal world; men are exposing their feminine sides.
The new fashion world undoubtedly is in a “gender neutral” state which brands – from fast-fashion to luxury, and even the runways – embracing a unisex category in retail. A neutral color palate of black and white, browns, shades of gray, forest greens and the millennial pink is filling up the retail shelves for a consumer who refuses to be categorized as only pink or blue.
Read next: Fashion Trend Trot Report of 2019-20