The fashion industry has undergone some pretty significant changes over the course of the new millennium.
Trends are dictated less and less by one It-Girl/Celebrity or one designer showing in Paris/London/New York/Milan and there is a surplus of disposable income like never before. As a result of this new found financial freedom, fashion is starting to become dictated by us, the People, as we have more money to spend on the clothes we want. We as consumers and fashion lovers have drastically changed the ways designers, creative directors and buyers have had to approach their jobs.
This week’s blog post is going to explore three new developments in the current fashion landscape which have been directly influenced by us and how we are approaching fashion in a modern world.
Sustainability is trendy
One of the biggest developments in fashion in recent years is the move towards socially just, organic or fair-trade fashion. The cosmopolitan middle class of the industrialised nations in the Western World are more aware than ever, thanks to the widespread availability of news and media, how immoral some clothing production and manufacturing methods have become. No longer ignorant to the damage fast fashion has caused, designers and buyers are increasingly looking for goodly alternatives to satisfy the now savvy consumer.
The LOHAS Market
Consumers are now looking for fashionable clothing which has been manufactured under environmentally friendly and socially just conditions. Designers and buyers have to make smart decisions in order to meet the high standards of this new target market, an educated middle to upper class grouping known as LOHAS, which stands for lifestyle of health and sustainability. These people want to buy clothing that is socially conscious but without any concession on style. Nowadays, ethical fashions are compatible with the desire for mass consumption, given they are no longer inferior to the mass produced competition.
Fashion with Social Criteria
Designers and buyers have to look out for materials which have been grown or processed organically without the use of chemicals, pesticides or pollutants, and without the wasteful use of natural resources like water. They have to ensure that they are liaising with suppliers who are ensuring an infallible application of social criteria in regards to working conditions whereby the staff receive reasonable wages and working hours, adequate health and safety protections as well as a ban on any child labour. The current move towards market globalisation along with technological advances have meant that production, networking, purchasing and shipping of clothing for the Western market have created numerous ethical black holes for consumers. We as consumers are aware more than ever before of the hazardous conditions in which some clothing is produced for the West, and the fashion industry have become acutely aware of the resulting backlash.
Gone are the days of fair-trade fashion being associated with hemp trousers – sustainability is chic, and the People have created a need to meet the growing gap in the market.
Changing Fashion Cycle
Now, now, NOW: A shift towards immediacy
Today, fashion shows are being streamed live and we, the consumer, have become obsessed with shortening the turnaround from catwalk to wardrobe. As a result, the fashion industry has had to change in ways like never before and the fashion cycle has had to evolve to keep up with consumer demand. Gone are the days of design houses showcasing looks in a catwalk presentation and the consumer having to wait six months for the new collection to drop. Designers like Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger have adopted a ‘See Now – Buy Now’ model with catwalk looks being readily available as soon as the clothing hits the runway. Consumers want to be as trendy and fashion forward as possible as soon as possible and this has created a whole new dynamic in the fashion industry.
The rise of the Fashion Blogger
Fashion blogging is reshaping the fashion cycle as the People have looked to bloggers more and more as a source of inspiration. If a blogger has it, a designer, buyer or retailer knows the customer will want it sooner rather than later. No better way to have your item sell out than have it featured in a blogger’s Instagram. Consumers do not want to wait to have their favourite bloggers latest accessory, which has shifted the fashion cycle from a waiting game to a now is not soon enough space.
The idea of a fashion cycle is becoming more and more obsolete as we as consumers have decided to disregard its rules and we slowly move towards a constant and immediate fashion continuum.
The Smartphone, the modern fashion magazine
Technological developments in recent years have had a dramatic effect on fashion. The advent of the smartphone and laptop have created new tools to harness our interests by enabling us to constantly keep up to date with fashion news through multiple media channels: online newspapers and magazines, fashion blogs, fashion related YouTube subscriptions and other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. We are living in a sea of continuous fashion feeds and designers have to create work that is not only trend driven but also conscious of the fashion culture within which they are being created and viewed to satisfy the interests of their consumer base. Designers are no longer creating clothing with a view to how it will look on a runway or in a printed magazine; now they have to create with a square Instagram frame or YouTube thumbnail in mind.
Your Order is on its way: The Internet & Changing Shopping Habits
Technology has streamlined business interactions and impacted consumers shopping habits unlike nothing before. We are conducting transactions in a much more efficient manner than ever before. With a few simple clicks, we can have clothing at our front door in a matter of hours. The advent of e-commerce has meant that designers and retailers now not only have to stay connected to the people who walk in and out of their stores, but they also have to form a critical understanding of the customers who buy from their brand online. Our choice to consume much of our fashion content and conduct purchasing online has given designers and buyers the opportunity to form a comprehensive study of a detailed analysis of our buying habits in having access to our internet history. Technology has been able to capture consumer information which is critical for designers and buyers when making decisions about a future seasons’ range plan i.e. size, colour, silhouette, macro/micro-trends etc.
By understanding the influence technology has had on us as consumers, designers and buyers can assess market trends, enabling them to make smart decisions in the future.
The biggest change to have struck the fashion industry in recent times is the influential role our voice as consumers has begun to have. We are dictating the trends in deciding what we want to buy and while there are those still out there who will heed the advice of Anna Wintour and her ilk, more and more designers and buyers are coming directly to us, the People.