How Digital Engagement is Reshaping the Fashion Industry
Crisis breeds innovation – as evidenced by the flurry of inventive working procedures industry players have launched in the few short months since the pandemic swept the globe. The digital space is currently the intersection between businesses and consumers and is the driving force behind fashion’s restructuring.
Technology and the internet have been pivotal in overcoming pandemic-induced blockages and have defined new modes of operation. Fashion businesses are also reacting to the influx of consumers in the digital realm by amplifying communication efforts and exploring completely new funnels to reach audiences.
Further reading: The Importance of Digitisation in Times of Crisis
The Rise of Innovative Operating Models
Innovative operating models that were in trial-phase or early adoption prior to the outbreak are now up and running across the industry.
Recently, the first-ever virtual fashion week took place in Shanghai – more than 150 designers and brands streamed their collections live on e-commerce platform Tmall.
The event’s “See Now, Buy Now” format meant that audiences were able to purchase runway items as they were streaming – a more consumer-focused angle than the traditional fashion week format. The fashion week amassed over 11 million views and generated more than $2.82 million in gross merchandise volume.
Previously, virtual showrooms were slow to adoption but they have been accelerated and proved handy in overcoming physical limitations. Asics utilised the virtual showroom concept to launch its new sneakers from its Japanese headquarters. The company recreated its presentation in VR and shipped Oculus Quest headsets to journalists to view the hologram.
Travel restrictions during Paris Fashion Week meant buyers in China were unable to travel to Europe. Chinese showroom agency DFO worked around this issue by streaming live to facilitate digital orders for remote buyers – reaching double the number of buyers that would’ve been able to travel to Paris and achieving 80% of its sales target.
Digitisation of wholesale will likely follow the rise of virtual showrooms and new business-to-business practices. These innovations spotlight alternatives that can replace existing fashion processes, like mass production of showroom samples and travelling to trade shows and fashion weeks. Ultimately, the benefits derived from technologies implemented at this time will have a lasting impact on the industry’s future functions.
Opportunities on Digital Platforms
To capture the attention of consumers in the current climate, brands not only have to establish an emotional connection but also include a fun and interactive component in their marketing strategies.
Marketers’ goal is to start a conversation with consumers instead of a one-way communication. This is the key to forming lasting relationships that can be built upon once the crisis subdues. For this reason, brands are seeking audiences on completely new platforms – fully maximising opportunities in digital media.
The consumers’ go-to streaming service has paved the way for viral TV shows and sparked trends that eventually manifest in fashion. The platform’s true crime docu-series, ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness’ quickly became a trending topic following its premiere, particularly in the US.
In a movement spearheaded by celebrities on social media, the series’ audience soon began recreating outfits from the show and buying into styles that represented its key elements – fashion brands swooped in to meet those needs by promoting relevant products.
Western and Americana styles are among the leading trends derived from the series, along with tiger print. While the pattern’s YoY new-ins decreased, Omnilytics detected tiger print trending in a few categories in the US.
Another Netflix series making its foray into fashion is Narcos – a crime series based on the true story of drug lord Pablo Escobar. A joint venture by French film studio Gaumont and e-commerce platform Dropdaze, the popular series is set to become a spin-off fashion brand and will launch in 2021 with a focus on menswear.
Streaming Platforms and Video Games
Twitch presents a massive opportunity for fashion brands due to its high number of captive audiences. Users of the live-streaming platform for gamers spend 26 million daily hours consuming content on Twitch.
Gaming’s association with athleisure and streetwear can trace its origins to the rise of Fortnite, which launched the careers of Twitch streamers as influencers.
Brands like Nike and Adidas have launched products and conducted live unboxing streams and hosted influencer-led giveaways on the platform to capture the market. Adidas also partnered with Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and have already launched their first sneaker collaboration.
Aside from Fortnite, League of Legends streamers have accumulated a large following on Twitch. Luxury powerhouse Louis Vuitton quickly funnelled efforts into cementing its foothold.
Unlike Adidas, Louis Vuitton focused its efforts on the game itself – which boasts 27 million daily players. The brand first created a collection of skins for players to purchase in the game before launching a ready-to-wear collection in collaboration with League of Legends that consists of nearly 40 products.
Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons is another form of escapism for consumers in self-isolation and quarantine. One of the standout features is the latest design function that allows players to customise their avatar’s outfit and re-create contemporary fashion looks.
Players use the function to unload pent-up style tendencies and customise outfit designs to emulate Gucci, Prada, Supreme, Chanel and Dior items. The game’s life simulation lends itself well to maintaining reality notions while nurturing an online community.
High-end fashion houses Marc Jacobs and Valentino saw an opportunity to market their brands on a platform full of fashion enthusiasts. Both brands created custom collections for the game, inspired by pieces from their Fall 2020 collection.
What Lies Ahead
The new operating models implemented now will shift the inner workings of fashion retail in the long run. Physical retail will return, but it will be enhanced by a more sustainable and efficient way of working that is currently operational.
With more brands pursuing unconventional digital channels today, leveraging digital consumption will continue. The key to maximising opportunities is to constantly monitor the performance of trends and adjust efforts accordingly.
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