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The need for a digital-first approach
I don’t think I’ve spoken to a person or company who has not been affected in some way by these wild and woolly times that we find ourselves in. Lockdown trends are changing dramatically day-to-day and Google’s search data backs this up.
Online search trends have never been so weird and wonderful, and there have been a number of lockdown trends which have gained a lot of attention from the public and social influencers.
However, the need for a digital-first approach within the fashion sector, in particular, has been a long time coming. For brands to survive and not only that, thrive under the new normal then they need to be thinking about how they can adapt to a multi-channel digital approach.
Tiger King, TikTok and the Tracksuit
Firstly, Netflix brought us the Tiger King then TikTok brought us Dalgona coffee (for those of you wondering what it is, it’s essentially whipped coffee), now comfies and loungewear are the latest winners in lockdown trends. Yes, you heard me correctly… the tracksuit.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the tracksuit, I remember with fondness my Juicy Couture velour tracksuit which I lived in for about a year back in my teens, along with
source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images
And of course, Mrs George from Mean Girls
Source: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (12)
However, Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic would tell you that they’re a crime against fashion altogether and should never be worn.
Karl Lagerfield was once quoted:
“to wear sweatpants is a sign of defeat”
Yet, last week, the queen of fashion, Anna Wintour, was photographed matching her pair with a stripy Brenton top whilst working from home. The same Anna Wintour I might add, that when asked by a fan in a Q&A session last year if she ever wore sweatpants, she replied with a horrified “No!”. Clearly a lot has changed.
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“We need to talk frankly and openly about what fashion is going through, but just as importantly, we need to start imagining what comes next. Please join us.” Anna Wintour shares how #VogueGlobalConversations, a four-day event on Zoom that starts tomorrow, came to be, as well as what she’s most looking forward to about it. Tap the link in our bio to read her full letter and to register to attend.
In fact, if you have a tie-dye (preferably head to toe) tracksuit then you are certainly heading up the fashion pack this season. Tie-dye has been going strong again since 2019 but as you can see in the search trends graph below there has been quite the increase over the last few weeks.
The Rise of Organic Cotton
Other online searches that have seen a big increase include, what to wear on a Zoom call, and which are the best fashion nostalgia coffee table books to own.
The change in search trends within the fashion industry, however, is not simply down to COVID-19. Sustainability has been a concern for many, and quite frankly, a change is long overdue.
Lyst recently reported that online searches for “organic cotton” have risen 23% since the end of November, while recycled plastic has seen a 35% increase since January. With luxury brands like Stella McCartney adopting biodegradable stretch denim, fashion-related searches including “biodegradable” have also increased 10% since the beginning of the year.
The Digital Wardrobe
Save My Wardrobe is a digital app which allows you to digitise your wardrobe, and for those of you struggling to find new ways of entertaining yourself, I speak from personal experience when I say it’s a brilliant way to spend a weekend…
The CEO and Co-Founder, Hasna Kourda, started Save Your Wardrobe with a hope of making consumers more aware of their after purchase behaviour.
The mission of Save Your Wardrobe is to guide you on how to make the most of your wardrobe. Save Your Wardrobe will help you reconnect with the content of your wardrobe. Ultimately, encourage you to buy less, buy better, be happier. They offer an array of services including repairs, dry cleaners, recycling and more.
Virtual Catwalks and Digital Fashion
With virtual catwalks and digital fashion trends rising, it will be interesting to see how COVID-19 could potentially change the face of fashion forever. With London Fashion Week taking place behind closed doors, I wonder what the ramifications on the overlapping industries like travel, restaurants and beauty will be.
Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA) was recently quoted saying
“COVID-19 is forcing brands to engage and experiment with immersive technologies. We’ve been inundated with requests on how to create virtual clothing, virtual catwalks and virtual showrooms”.
The Fabricant is a new breed of fashion house altogether and only produces digital clothing.
How do they describe themselves? “Showing The World That Clothing Does Not Need To Be Physical To Exist”
In some of their latest work for a UK fashion brand, The Fabricant created clothing samples digitally in place of physical ones, completely eliminating textile waste and creating amazing digital content at the same time.
Turbo-Charge your Digital Strategy
I read The State of Fashion Report (Coronavirus update) this week. This joint report by The Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company sited that 35% of UK Designer Labels might collapse in 2020.
Ultimately the archaic fashion seasonality system has been needing to change for a long time. Landfills are piled high and it’s just not sustainable anymore. With the lockdown of retailers and department stores worldwide consumers spending habits have come to a drastic halt which has prompted unanswered questions about buying behaviour in times of crisis.
More interestingly, it talked about the importance of digital now even more than ever, and for brands and retailers to survive this, then they need to be turbocharging their digital strategy. The global lockdown is pushing digitally incompetent companies to the brink of collapse.
“Almost overnight, the global fashion industry’s reliance on digital channels has accelerated faster than anyone could have anticipated prior to the crisis. This could spell trouble for department stores and retail, in addition to smaller players incapable of adapting to a digital-first mentality”.
Somewhere over the Rainbow
Not everyone is suffering, and there have been some great examples of brands reacting quickly to the situation.
Burberry was quick to join the fight against Covid-19 and announced they were using their global supply chain network to fast track the delivery of surgical masks and repurposed their trenchcoat factory in Yorkshire to make nonsurgical gowns and masks for patients.
Mulberry was quick to follow suit and announced that it had begun producing reusable PPE gowns in its Somerset factories. The brand said it expected to produce more than 8,000 gowns in the coming weeks.
Fitness apparel brand Gymshark has been encouraging the people of Birmingham to ‘sweat for the NHS’ in a bid to raise £175,000 for Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
For every selfie uploaded using the hashtag #NHSSweatySelfie, Gymshark will donate £5 to Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity.
Me and Em online sales are up 55% on the previous year, and Clare Hornby of the Me+Em womenswear label has enlisted her teenage daughters to model. “The idea came to me as I was trying to juggle work and kids. The sun was out, so I asked them to go and create content.”
In conclusion, the fashion industry may well be on the brink of collapse, but it’s been a long time coming for the brands refusing to adapt to a multichannel digital-first approach.
The current situation might just be the proverbial kick that is needed to give fashion brands the urgency to reevaluate the buyer’s needs and behaviours and pivot their systems to meet them.
If you have any comments please do not hesitate to contact me via LinkedIn @melhosegood I’d love to hear from you.