From virtual reality to a new demand for transparency, the current crisis has truly changed the world of fashion. How will the industry adapt and evolve? What will be in store for the next generation of brands?
We met with Hussein Suleiman, Founder of Daily Paper; Bella Buchanan, Founder of WORN; Bessie and Oliver Corral, Co-Founders of ARJÉ; and Clara Mercer, Communications Director of British Fashion Council to discuss how the fashion industry will change:
Sustainability will be at the forefront.
It’s impossible to have any conversation about the future of fashion without talking about its detrimental effects on our environment. Bella told us how a new emphasis on the value of clothing will be a huge part of this. “All the Marie Kondo-ing we’ve been doing over lockdown has made us so much more aware of what’s in our wardrobe already,” she added, “persuading people to buy less and buy better comes down to understanding two things: the value of the item and the environmental impact of buying lots of items.” It was also noted by Bessie that it will be key to reconsider how we market clothing: ARJÉ sells ‘chapters’ to give their items a timeless appeal. “We felt when we removed the word ‘collections’, we were giving our product endless shelf life,” said Bessie. “We never do sales to end a product’s life, either. It’s a good thing to sell out instead,” remarked Oliver.
Brands will be more human.
All our panellists were in agreement that now, more than ever, it’s crucial for brands to care. Hussein remarked on approaching global movements as a brand. “We’ve just entered into two really sensitive periods: the corona epidemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. You wonder if it’s still ok to push products or even post, but sometimes being quiet is the best thing you can do.” As well as giving your brand a human touch online, Bessie noted how important it is in real life, too. “We never wanted someone to come in and feel like they wanted to buy. During the pandemic, brands have become so much more human in this way.”
Get creative with digital.
In a time where we can’t come together, many forward-thinking fashion brands are testing out the new channels that technology can offer. For Daily Paper’s latest season, Hussein worked with a 3D artist to render garments into a virtual showroom for buyers to attend. “We miss the sales meetings and the real-life interactions, but with this, you give buyers a completely different experience.” According to Clara, technology offers a real opportunity to established and emerging brands alike: “Digital platforms are a gift for young brands,” she told us, “you can get the consumer to enter the designer’s world. You can use it to entertain or for wholesale, like Hussein. There are loads of possibilities.”
Physical retail will return.
Although many high streets have ground to a halt, our panellists agreed that physical retail would still be an important tool in the future of the fashion industry. For Bella, her retail space will still be key to immersing her customers in Worn: “To me, the importance of having a physical space really comes down to community, it enables you to have conversations. People want to touch and feel the items and just have fun.” In Bessie and Oliver’s case, whose stores are called ‘homes’, retail has and always will be a tool to build relationships: “It’s always exciting that the industry is shifting and moving,” said Bessie, “but we’re not giving up on physical retail, we need to see and talk to people!”