Fashion Tech Alchemy: What's the Winning Startup Formula?
What makes a successful fashion tech startup? We explore here.
It’s always a wonder how industry professionals keep up with the whirlwind that is the fashion industry? 2018, into the new year, we look towards keeping the Beyond Form team up to date and relevant – something that we strive for as an agency. So what are the disruptions that we should be paying be close attention as the year unfolds? The State of Fashion 2018 report co-written by Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company unpacks some of the hottest topics that we believe anyone working in the industry should perk their ears up to, and they have identified some of the shifts that will inevitably be happening in the near future. Here is Beyond Form’s thoughts on how it will be affecting us:
As customers are wanting instant gratification more and more, the lead time of placing the product onto the shelf in addition to frequency is increasing. This means that brands need to push the limits to how they will satisfy this hunger. This requires additional design resources, supply bases that can respond quickly and effectively, and team work to make it happen at the required speed. Aside from brands such as Zara who already do this, the rest of the industry such as R-T-W designers that work on the traditional model will need to re-think how they deliver their collections.
The buzz word(s) of the moment are artificial intelligence. We know that this is happening and we are seeing it happen with the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo, but how will this affect the fashion value chain as a whole? We believe that certain parts of the fashion design process will be supported by artificial intelligence, so it will be important that design teams embrace this change, work with it and not against it to create best possible design solutions. Leaders will need to have a macro overview as to how it will be implemented in every part of their systems and processes; and the ones that do this will be the future winners.
As a lead in from disruption 2, data-led design developments will be what designers need to look at to optimise their ranges and we don’t just mean looking at historical buying data. Data is becoming more granular for the designer and ever more powerful, so it is about the design teams working with the data scientists to really understand how this can help them and get under the skin of what is happening commercially from a data perspective. Thus backing up their design decisions with data – a smart move we would say.
The retail apocalypse has been highly talked about the past couple of years especially with many fashion stores shuttering. However, we know that brick and mortar stores are here to stay. The issue is that fashion retailers really need to understand how to embrace the experience economy by delivering engaging, entertaining and purposeful retail outlets. There has yet to be one stand out fashion brand that has cracked this, but areas such as visual communication, creative direction, and brand strategy really need to be pushed to transform stores into worlds of wonder for the fickle customer with short attention spans. With the closure of the Paris’ Colette in December 2017, there’s certainly a hole to be filled.
Traditional wholesale is no longer the effective commercial business model that it once was. The winners in the future are the innovative startups and the brands that are brave enough to try new direct-to-consumer models whether that be digitally or physically. We’ve seen retailers such as Stitch Fix and similar successfully launch new interesting ways of engaging with the customer and Supreme, the king of collaborations, lead the way. Again, it will be interesting to see how all part of the creative process be involved with pushing this further.