No data or trend forecasting firm could have predicted the twists and turns that fashion has experienced in 2020. And the rollercoaster ride is far from over.
From broken supply chains to unkept fashion calendars, the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a new set of challenges for the fashion industry as well as a host of new consumer habits and tastes that will linger. A recent report by retail data analytics company Edited outlines five fashion trends that will shape the second half of the year as lockdown restrictions loosen, stores begin to reopen and consumers seek some semblance of normal life.
Though pandemic trends like loungewear and “Zoom dressing” are not going away, there are new opportunities that fashion brands and retailers can capitalize on as businesses begin their road to recovery.
1. Protection first
Face masks, perhaps the most consumer-friendly personal protective equipment (PPE), are a part of the new reality for the Western world. “As lockdown measures ease and hygiene remains front of mind, this category has become an area of investment in the post-coronavirus world,” Edited wrote.
While initial PPE efforts by brands focused on creating equipment for front line workers, brands may want to permanently carve out a portion of their production for the category—especially as consumers begin to build out their mask wardrobe.
Opportunities, Edited noted, include masks made with antibacterial fabrics, colorful and printed masks for children, masks with licensed designs and masks for future festival seasons.
2. Less is more
The economic outlook in a post-coronavirus world is uncertain, but the Great Recession is a reminder of what fashion looks like during hard times. Minimal designs, “normcore” basics and timeless or heritage brands entered the fray in 2008.
While millennials never shed some of those buying habits, Edited forecasts a new emphasis on minimalism in 2020 and beyond.
“Less reliant on flash-in-the-pan trends, minimalism complements sustainability through the purchasing of timeless investment pieces,” Edited stated. “As customers may have less disposable income, look to offer classic staples with longevity such as well-cut blazers, slip dresses, quality tees and high-waisted jeans.”
3. Home wardrobe
With virtually no open clothing stores and budgets tighter, quarantine forced consumers to accept the at-home wardrobes they had prior to the pandemic. Brands, however, can capitalize on those consumers who are ready to upgrade their home style.
Comfortable fabrics and casual dressing will gain importance, Edited said, especially as new protocols are put in place that will require employees to work from home even after the pandemic subsides. “Additionally, the high levels of unemployment post-COVID will see consumers spending less money and more time at home, contributing to the rise of the ‘homewear’ wardrobe,” Edited stated.
For women, consider washable fabrics, luxury pajamas, soft bras and house shoes. For men, Edited said products should be made with lightweight fabrics like linen or organic cotton and focus on familiar pieces like knitted polos, short-sleeve shirts and short sets, an elevated alternative to sweats.
4. Make use of the large amount of untapped data
The world is in the middle of a data explosion. Everyone is carrying a supercomputer in their product and companies are obsessed with it. And the amazing thing is that a lot of information out there is still untapped!
There are data trails everywhere. There’s no piece of economic activity that doesn’t leave some sort of record in some database somewhere.
Companies (big and small) that have seen profits during the months of April, May, June and July have one thing in common – they are obsessively tracking and measuring every aspect of their operations and their customers. They don’t simply track this data, they also put it to use. How? Read on to find out.
5. Implement the data assembly line
So how do retailers act on data? Henry Ford had the answer 100 years ago with his assembly line. Every company, no matter what industry, has a data assembly line consisting of 4 steps:
To acquire -> To transform -> To apply -> To deploy
Every part in the data assembly line is a specialist role, because each one has its own challenges and requirements. This data assembly line works miraculously for businesses and is the future. Every business needs to focus on this for success.
6. Focus on the brand’s core competency
Retailers are often faced with the dilemma of building their own tech tools versus buying them from specialists. Sometimes a small tiger team with the best engineers focused on solving problems for your customer is a better approach than writing 3000 lines of code to build something that might not even matter.
Very rarely do CTOs consider the cost of building. Very often it starts as a hero’s journey, only later do they realise that building is extremely hard in terms of time and resources.
Everything is changing at an incredible speed! Retail CTO should be talking to startups that are building incredible tech to keep up the pace.
Default to buying first and building if and only if buying doesn’t work. You can always make a case for yourself when it comes to building.