The state of fashion: key trends in the industry

23 Jul 2019

What are fashion’s key trends right now? We don’t mean snake print, capes and mock croc, we’re talking about the trends that are dictating the direction the industry and retailers are taking.

According to McKinsey, 2018 was the year of reckoning, but 2019 will be one of awakening for fashion companies. It’s time for these companies to admit that some of the old rules no longer work. Today, it’s all about being nimble, focusing on everything from speed to market to social issues to transparency.

In short, growth cannot be taken for granted. So let’s take a look at the key trends impacting the industry in the next 12 months.

Omnichannel: combining the digital and in-store experiences

Online sales have been growing at the expense of bricks and mortar sales for some time now. But it’s a confusing landscape. Research suggests that customers still want an in-store experience, so placing all their eggs in the online shopping basket is not the way forward. And that’s why omnichannel shopping is a big trend.

As customers look online for competitive prices and customer reviews, use their mobiles to search for product information while in store, and return items bought online in-store, digital and instore-channels are clearly intertwined.

The key to this integration is mobile. Used to browse, pay, and integrate social media and augmented reality into the shopping experience, everything from smart fitting rooms to pay-by-apps relies on mobile technology.

AI: tailoring shopping options to your customer's buying history

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the way retailers interact with their customers. Research by McKinsey suggests that 75% of fashion retailers are planning to invest in AI this year alone. According to Gartner, early adopters of visual search could increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%.

Brands including H&M and ASOS are already using visual search to enhance the customer experience – allowing customers to take photos of items they see in store to find similar items through the website, for example.

Sustainability: the backlash to fast fashion

But let’s not forget that fashion has a big problem. The F-word: fast.

Last month, the culture of fast fashion was epitomised by a £1 bikini from online retailer Missguided. Advertised during an episode of Love Island, the bikini went viral, but not in the way the retailer was hoping. It was flagged up as a symbol of today’s throwaway fashion culture. Ouch.

But Missguided is not the only brand that’s falling short in the sustainability stakes. Earlier this year, major UK fashion retailers – Amazon UK, Boohoo, JD Sports, Sports Direct, TK Maxx – were singled out as failing to do enough to reduce their carbon, water and waste footprint.

Fortunately, not all brands take such a fleeting approach to fashion retail. High street chain Zara, for example, announced all its collections will be made from 100% sustainable fabrics before 2025 (making it the first international high street store to make such a commitment).

Fashion’s hiring trends

Without doubt, the fashion industry is in a state of flux. And that’s showing in the industry’s recruitment trends. Socially-conscious marketers who wanted a career in fashion because it appears glamorous are leaving the industry because they are fed up with fast fashion and its impact on the environment.

However, there are areas within the industry that still present attractive options. Here at Stopgap, we are placing an increasing number of marketing professionals in roles within sustainable brands and fashion startups, and the big high street names are recognising that they need fresh digital talent in order to cut through in this saturated market.

We are seeing a move away from generalist marketing roles as brands look to bring in specialist marketers,” explains Stopgap Senior Consultant Jess Sinton. “High street retailers, especially those with a large bricks & mortar presence, are playing catch up in digital marketing and are now looking to hire SEO, PPC and email specialists to gain cut through within a world where fast fashion is now easily consumed online.”

Digital specialists require technical skills within the SEO and PPC space, like crawling and indexing, while email marketers often need specific ESP and HTML experience.”

So what’s the advice for hiring managers?

Act quickly,” advises Jess. “When you are presented with a digital specialist, move on them; be aware these candidates are in high demand and they won't be on the market for long.

“Many will be juggling numerous opportunities at once. In light of this, these candidates are able to seek higher salaries. But don’t be put off by this. These are the people who are hired instantly by digital-savvy online fashion brands, and it is candidates with experience in these types of brands that Hiring Managers want us to source for them."

To learn more about how to attract the best marketing talent in fashion right now, speak to Jess today.

75 %
of fashion retailers are planning to invest in AI this year alone.
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