We were ready to say “goodbye” to 2018 and welcome the new year with open arms. While 2018 saw a lot of advancements in the fashion industry, we know the next year or two will see even more and we’re excited to get to work. So what do we think are the biggest trends to hit the fashion industry as we head towards 2020?
Sustainability. And personalization powered by AI.
After so many decades of wastefulness and over-production, we are excited to see the move towards sustainable and scalable solutions. Consumers are becoming more environmentally aware, rightfully, they are demanding a higher level of commitment to the environment from the brands and companies they know. And brands? We are proud to see the efforts to streamline production and know that sustainable and scalable solutions are possible and worth the investment in the long run.
A recent article in EcoWatch examined just how much pollution and waste is created from clothing production, calling it the second largest polluter behind the oil industry!
According to the EcoWatch: “While cotton, especially organic cotton, might seem like a smart choice, it can still take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Synthetic, man-made fibers, while not as water-intensive, often have issues with manufacturing pollution and sustainability. And across all textiles, the manufacturing and dyeing of fabrics is chemically intensive.”
The Denim Footprint
Let’s look more closely at jeans as an example of a garment that has undergone serious adjustments to achieve more sustainable production. Nearly 3000 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pair of traditional denim jeans. Much of that is needed to grow the cotton, but water is also used in the dyeing process.
Companies like Browzwear partner, Jeanologia, have recognized the need for more sustainable and environmentally-friendly production methods. In fact, Jeanologia has stated that their objective for 2025 is “to achieve the total dehydration and detoxification of the jeans’ industry.” According to their website, a few years ago they developed and released a tool that assesses the environmental impact of the garment finishing processes “by measuring key factors like water and energy consumption, the use of chemicals and the health and safety of workers; giving brands and laundries the tools they need to set goals and monitor their progress on the road to sustainability.”
Smart Factories for Smart Production
According to a recent McKinsey Apparel Go-to-Market Process Survey, 98 percent of executives said it was a priority to improve go-to-market processes and disciplines, and 59 percent said they had already appointed a dedicated team to manage these processes. So how are they doing it?
With 3D digital workflows and smart factories. By implementing a 3D digital workflow, it won’t take two years to produce a new collection. With 3D digitization, in fact, the entire workflow will be shortened to mere weeks, cutting out the infinite waste produced by constant revisions to physical samples. That’s not even to mention the weeks and months (and petrol) spent sending samples back and forth from the studios for revisions.
With the move towards 3D digital workflows, we also predict a real shift towards smart factories over the next few years. We are already starting to see the use of True-to-life 3D digital garments on websites and in catalogs, and we expect that they will only become more and more accurate. The digital garments are becoming more and more detailed and accurate to the point that consumers may not even realize they are purchasing garments that haven’t yet been produced. With smart factories and 3D garments, each order will be filled as it is placed, significantly reducing waste from excess inventory.
According to boldmetrics.com, sites like Amazon.com enjoy a 35% conversion rate, while average eCommerce apparel sites only see a conversion rate of 2.5%. Sadly, these conversion rates haven’t changed in the last 20 years. But why? Why is there this glass ceiling that seemingly can’t be broken?
One of the main reasons is because we haven’t yet mastered the art of personalization yet.
So finally, things are changing. With the help of 3D digitalization, we predict a wave of personalization opportunities that will shatter the 2.5% conversion rates.
McKinsey says, “The next-generation model should be based on anticipating what the consumer wants. Powered by predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, this model would proceed from design to delivery in close to real time.” The engine driving this is a digital process enabling brands to keep the momentum by quickly move from the design stage to manufacturing, while integrating customer feedback along the way.
But with those advancements comes the need to make the buying experience more personal too.
Personalized Shopping Experience
In pilot programs, McKinsey says that virtual dressing rooms brought more than a 50% increase in conversion rates for first time buyers and a 30% to 50% reduction in product return rates.
We will start to see a movement towards taking the physical experience of designing, manufacturing and selling clothing straight into the virtual world. By combining digitized 3D pre-production with customized and innovative online storefronts, brands can provide an authentic online experience. Virtual garments and virtual fitting rooms will soon be so realistic that shoppers won’t be able to tell that their avatars are actually trying on digital garments.
The next step will be customized avatars that remember each customer’s personal measurements and past purchases for a truly personalized online shopping experience.
The Future of Design Looks Bright
With the proper digital tools, brands will be able to reduce waste and increase their bottom line. By leveraging speed factories to produce garments after they are purchased, we will see a real shift in the way customer orders are processed. Keeping a finger on the pulse of the market, brands can adapt designs in real time and bring new designs to customers in a fraction of the time. The entire process will be streamlined and the amount of waste – from wasted water to dye to fabric and more – will decrease dramatically. The future of the fashion industry is environmentally sustainable and highly customized.