The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have led fashion companies to accelerate on digitalization, leading to profound long-term changes both in digital and in brick-and-mortar retail in a rapidly changing environment.
Such acceleration in the digital shift deeply impacted not only B2B relations, but also the B2C world, fast-tracking the transformation of the relationship between businesses and consumers along three main lines: the use of AI for data analytics to create a valuable shopping experience, the creation of sustainable interactive environments and the diffusion of ‘digital humans.’
These recent trends were discussed in the second part of Expo Riva Schuh’s online event on Digital Transformation, Designing for Fashion.
According to Joanna Lowry, senior consultant at WSGN and expert in design strategies for the luxury, fashion, beauty, retail and lifestyle sectors, the main B2C innovations brought about by the pandemic include:
-Livestream Shopping: already very popular in Chinese e-commerce, it has become a global trend in influencer marketing. It allows to engage in a direct dialog with consumers through social platforms.
-Influencer 2.0 (or virtual influencer) such as Daisy from Yoox. Brands use virtual influencers as ambassadors to push their products, drive culture change and share critical messages.
-Virtual Wear is the tool which major fashion industry brands can use for their gaming applications. Being virtual, it is also sustainable. Moschino and Gucci have pioneered this field.
-Inclusive worlds: with the virtual shift, there’s an increased focus on inclusivity in the relationship with consumers.
-Platforms will use personalized interfaces: AI-based curation platforms will lead the way to tailor-made user experiences, leveraging machine-learning algorithms to create personalized fashion feeds based on user responses. In brick-and-mortar stores, the use of contactless interactive apps will reassure Covid-wary shoppers and efficiently help with stock management.
-Stores will increasingly be re-modeled as interactive showrooms, powered by social media and technology, as is already the case in the Nike Rising stores, where you can shop independently and even see how shoes fit through your smartphone. When brick-and-mortar stores are back, consumer experience will have changed considerably, and shoppers will expect a more ‘phygital’ experience, crossing the divide between the physical and digital worlds.
-Virtual Showcases, which came about during the pandemic, will be used more and more to showcase products and collections.
In the new digital world, fashion design will also undergo profound changes, as shown by the innovative Awaytomars co-creating platform, established in 2015. “What we are trying to do is to make a shift in the relationship with consumers, who become co-creators with brands”, using products and creation models as tools for engagement, said CEO Alfredo Orobio. “From the sketch to the marketplace, designers will be able to put forward their ideas, share them and co-create their garments, then see them created and even involve consumers in the creative process,” he added. With 20,000 designers from 93 different countries, Awaytomars has already developed 15 co-created collections and 500 co-created garments, collaborating with major fashion brands such as Missoni, Woolmark and Melissa.
Photo: © Tom Claes on Unsplash