How to reinvent the business of fashion

February, 22nd 2019

As the fashion industry comes to terms with sector’s new paradigm, this year is all about embracing the new opportunities and overcoming the surmounting challenges. The fashion world steering towards a more optimistic five-year industry outlook, with a size projection for 2025 of 390 billion US dollars. We’ve collected the key insights into how and why the industry is reinventing the business of fashion.

  • KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS & WANT THEY WANT: Knowing your customer and understanding want they is fundamental to a brand’s success. New school players such as Warby Parker, funded originally as a Venture Initiation Program of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, understood that their success depended on knowing who their customers were and their motivation for shopping. The New York based brand ensure that their customers play a collaborative role in deciding and designing their prescription glasses and sunglasses. The fashion sector’s challenge lies with big brands who, with such a large customer base, need to focus on further optimizing consumer analytics to really get to know who their customers and what they want.

  • RELEVANCE & INNOVATION: Relevance and innovation are key to reinventing the business of fashion in 2019. Brands, both large and small, must be open to all forms of innovation, from new products to new distribution models and even the business of fashion, in order to stay relevant. Using personalization or co-creation can help to further challenge brand conformity. Seeing Tesla, Amazon or even Alibaba as sources of inspiration of how brands can innovate rather than threats to the current model will move the sector into new and exciting territory.

  • SUSTAINABILITY: Sustainability should be the way forward for the whole sector and not just used as a way to temporarily increase sales. Alfred Vernis, Sustainability Academic Director at Inditex, stresses the importance of taking steps towards sustainability “because the planet can’t wait any longer” while also keeping in mind that “customers buy fashion they don’t buy sustainability” when shopping. To ensure consistency, sustainability should be implemented throughout the entire value chain.

  • HUMANIZATION: Humanization is one of the clear differential values of the physical store and one which is difficult to replicate between brands and customers in other channels, either relational or transactional. The store is key to humanizing a fashion brand and it fulfils a fundamental role as a place of leisure for customers. Humanization is, without a doubt, a key point of optimism within a general feeling of “crisis” in the fashion sector.

  • DIFFERENTIATION: The differentiation between brands, or rather lack thereof, was another hot topic of debate. Re-establishing differentiation as a brand value within the fashion industry is a must in order to regain the sense of magic and the illusion that brands convey to their customers. In fact, as we move further into 2019 and beyond, fashion brands and the business of fashion as a whole should reflect one essential question: “If you take your product out of the question, what is it that you’re selling?”

These insights are a summary of the keynote sessions held the 7th annual Barcelona Fashion Summit held in February 2019.