Back in 2014, Francis Bitonti commented during an interview with Design Boom, that the fashion industry’s adoption of technology was many years behind other industries. Bitonti hoped that fashion brands would catch up soon, and six years later, an industry with a reputation for not readily embracing change is now being forced, by COVID-19, to make decisions that it probably wasn’t ready to make yet.
Thinking More Like Startups
In a struggle to remain in the race, we are seeing more and more legacy fashion businesses, like Macy’s, Estée Lauder Companies, and PVH Corp— doing a full, not half, turn towards cutting-edge tech solutions. It looks like the penny has dropped. Legacy brands like Gucci and Hermes, are turning to new technology to remain relevant among competitors. When done strategically, these companies will be able to adapt to changing customer behavior while also driving innovation in a direction where it could improve agility within their business.
Although the pandemic accelerated the adoption, many of these old institutions are starting to see the benefits of using what Vogue Business called the ‘test and learn’ model of innovation. Doing so has led to specific corporate ready solutions being more popular than others; here are four trends that legacy fashion businesses are embracing the most so far in 2020.
Personalization: Taking Customers On A Shopping Journey
Fashion businesses have always leaned towards the idea of being able to create a personalized shopping experience for their customers. This trend is why solutions that allow them to recommend products that are a better fit for their customers have always proved popular, even with the more traditional companies like Louis Vuitton and Dior. “When consumers come to our website, we want them to feel that we’re talking to them directly. It’s very important for us to be able to talk to companies that can enhance that e-commerce journey,” said Korn, of Perry Ellis to Vogue Business.
One company that is delivering technology that can help businesses dial-up the personalization is Heuritech. The Paris based startup is a cutting-edge fashion technology company that offers brands predictive analytics on trends using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to translate real-world images shared on social media into meaningful insights. I believe that the main reason why legacy fashion businesses are drawn towards this technology because it empowers them to forecast demand and trends more accurately so they can produce more sustainably, giving them a competitive edge.
Immersive Technologies: AR Experiences and VR Commerce
Immersive technology has been on the slow burner for years because it is simply not quite there yet. Many experts argue that the technology is still at a stage where the makers are still trying to figure out how to shrink the technology without losing the quality. Even though the technology is still in its infancy, the fashion industry has been slowly but surely waking up to the idea of experimenting with AR and VR technologies. Legacy brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Levi Strauss & Co have been watching and learning these technologies for quite some time. “Augmented reality and virtual reality are going to be incredibly important in helping to remove barriers to purchase and get consumers more comfortable with what they buy,” Brady Stewart, senior Vice President of Americas digital for Levi Strauss & Co., explained to WWD.
As technology moves forward at a fast pace, legacy fashion brands can look forward to investing in AR capabilities that will give their consumers wondrous experiences and VR commerce, although still limited, gaining wider adoption.
Offline Experiments: Generating Data and Revenue
Convenience is something that customers expect from fashion businesses today, even in this challenging time. The good news is that there are various digital tools to help physical retailers generate data and revenue. The startup that legacy fashion businesses are turning to is Hafta Have. The omnichannel platform gives companies access to shopper data in retail. With no need for an app or hardware, Hafta has an offline revenue engine focused on shopper data and driving revenue via SMS.
What makes Hafta Have appealing is the fact that they have successfully found a way to automate product-specific messages that “feel special.” Also, the hyper-personalized communication incentivizes each shopper to make a purchase in-store, drive back to store, or purchase later online with proven text message marketing campaigns.
Circular Models: Testing the Rental and Resale Market
It is no secret that the birth of the conscious consumer has led to customers taking on a decisive role in pushing the fashion industry to adopt a more circular economy. It is a transition that has led to an increase in partnerships between fashion brands trying to change and startups offering viable solutions. As collaborations grow in popularity, we have seen legacy fashion brands like Burberry committing to testing the resale model. They partnered up with consignment marketplace The RealReal in the US, making it possible for customers to buy “pre-loved” items. It is with thanks to circularity startups, like The RealReal and London-based platform Reflaunt, to name a few, they have made it easier for the fashion industry to progress towards a more circular business model.