Consumer demand for digital, sustainability and engaging experiences are driving new trends and creating new growth opportunities for fashion businesses to explore says 3DLook.ai
With a focus on meeting increased demand for inclusivity and personalization through technology, ethical and eco-friendly business practices, and engaging customer experiences, these are the trends set to shape the future of fashion retail.
Our digital environments are beginning to evolve from 2D, linear spaces into multi-dimensional, 3D worlds. With young consumers spending vast amounts of time exploring these emerging online spaces — from virtual reality environments to popular online games such as Roblox — the metaverse is tipped for exponential growth in the coming years.
As these online worlds materialize, users will desire to personalize their online personas, offering new opportunities for fashion to explore.
With 63% of Gen Z consumers expressing a strong interest in the Metaverse and among those the most likely to spend on digital garments, according to Sina, many brands are already starting to explore this trend, partnering with leading video game developers to bring their garments to the online world. Fortnite players can now dress their avatar in trendy Balenciaga outfits, while Roblox players spend thousands on virtual Gucci accessories.
Others are venturing into fashion NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) — virtual assets, which govern ownership of digital items such as images, videos, or in-game items — with brands such as Dolce & Gabbana generating millions from exclusive digital collections. Meanwhile, emerging trendsetters such as DressX and The Fabricant, are showcasing the potential of digital garments that customers can ‘wear’ through augmented reality (AR).
Today, many consumers turn to social platforms in search of support and guidance, analyzing the outfits of influencers on Instagram and TikTok, combing through user-curated boards on Pinterest, and sending snaps through Snapchat asking for advice.
The pandemic has accelerated reliance on social media, with 74% now more influenced to shop through these channels than they were before the pandemic, according to Business of Fashion (BOF) and McKinsey, while 70% highlighted clothing as the product they shop for most.
As consumers explore new social shopping channels, annual social commerce sales are expected to surge by 51% in the US over the next two years, reaching $56bn. By 2027, worldwide social commerce sales are estimated to total $600bn.
The demand for personalized retail experiences is growing.
Some 80% of consumers now expect fashion retailing businesses to accommodate their preferences, with brands turning to technology to reshape their customer experience (CX).
Artificial intelligence, in particular, is playing a leading role. In stores, trendsetters such as Amazon are exploring the potential of cashier-less checkouts that streamline the buying process. This technology tracks customers, recognizes the products they select, and bills them automatically as they leave.
Online AI technology is providing new, efficient ways to communicate with customers. Chatbots, for instance, can now answer customer queries and help them find products instantly without the support of a customer service operator. Through the KIK messaging platform, H&M’s chatbot asks customers questions about their clothing preferences and provides personalized recommendations based on their responses. With 40% of Gen Z and Millennial customers preferring to speak to a chatbot over a human representative when in a hurry, according to Zendesk, the demand for these solutions is growing.
In the fashion space, the leading retailer envisions an online clothing shopping experience where customers can seek styling advice and recommendations through voice features created by brands. Voice e-commerce is becoming big business with transactions tipped to reach $19.4bn this year by Juniper Research.
Mobile body scanning technology is also having a transformative impact on businesses of all shapes and sizes. Solutions such as Mobile Tailor, which allows businesses to collect body measurements contactless and remotely using just two photos of the customer, are enabling made-to-measure businesses to expand their reach and provide a safe and comfortable in-store measuring process. Likewise, solutions such as YourFit are overcoming fashion e-commerce’s sizing challenges by matching online shoppers with their perfect size and fit.
With 71% of consumers willing to shop more with brands that incorporate AR into the customer journey, retailers are exploring this too. Soon, magic mirrors could become the norm on shop floors, allowing customers to visualize garments on their bodies without getting undressed. Solutions such as YourFit are bringing the fitting room to the online world, providing tailored size recommendations combined with an engaging, photo-realistic try-on experience, powered by highly accurate body measuring technology.
Ecommerce grew at an extraordinary rate during the pandemic and has continued to gain ground in the years since. As the market normalizes, brands will need to carefully reconsider their channel strategies based on emerging future trends in fashion.
To continue growing, retailers must expand and diversify their mix, taking advantage of emerging channels such as marketplaces to reach new audiences. Many brands are exploring partnerships with marketplaces such as Zalando and Farfetch, while traditional brick and mortar retailers such as Macy’s and Walmart have launched their own in the hopes of capitalizing on this fashion retailing trend.
However, brands shouldn’t just be looking online — Last year, physical store openings in the US topped closures for the first time in three years, so 2023 could mark brick and mortar’s comeback. It makes sense, with the pandemic having slashed rents in many key markets and the cost of online advertising on the up.
However, rather than a place solely to shop, these physical touchpoints will increasingly provide a space to bring brands alive and connect with customers. To do so, digitalization will still be crucial with customers desiring differentiation. Platforms such as YourFit can enhance the in-store experience, for example. Using a combination of NFC and RFID technology, shoppers can tap and scan their body through their smartphone as they browse in-store, providing a unique and engaging customer experience.
Fashion’s struggles with sustainability are well documented: A leading cause of harmful emissions, shocking water consumption, and approximately 40 million tonnes of textile waste each year. With half of young consumers planning to buy fewer, better quality garments, the industry must explore slow, sustainable and circular manufacturing processes and materials.
Sustainability-focused retailers such as the Pangaia are exploring the potential of alternative textiles. The London-based apparel brand recently introduced two 100% bio-based alternatives to its material line-up — “PlntFiber” and “FrutFiber” — made from renewable and biodegradable plant blends and agricultural waste. Many are beginning to work with natural fibers, such as hemp, bamboo and ramie as cotton alternatives. Meanwhile, brands such as Stella McCartney have pioneered closed-loop solutions using innovative materials such as bio-based fur, which requires up to 30% less energy to produce and causes 63% less greenhouse gas than conventional synthetics. Likewise, leather alternatives, such as muskin, are helping to reduce the use of environmentally-damaging chemicals during production.
With consumers, regulators and stakeholders becoming increasingly wary of attempts at greenwashing, enterprise fashion brands will need to take meaningful action to clean up the industry, and demonstrate a shared commitment to tackling environmental and social issues.
3DLOOK is the creator of the world’s leading patented mobile body scanning technology that drives retail innovation by providing personalized fit and size recommendations and virtual try-on for shoppers. 3DLook helps brands reduce returns while increasing conversion and AOV.