November 13, 2018
In the world of eCommerce, fashion is in fashion. This stylish category brought in the most online revenue in Europe in 2017, and is projected to increase at a CAGR of 8.8% from 2017 to 2022.
From mail order catalogs to homeshopping, fashion retail has evolved steadily over the past century. Looking forward, that evolution won’t be slowing down anytime soon. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technology innovations enabling an increasingly user-friendly, interactive, and comprehensive purchase experience, consumers shopping for fashion items will continue to move towards heavier utilisation of the digital marketplace. From design, to manufacture, to distribution, here are some of the emerging trends that will reshape fashion in the coming years.
AI: the automated personal designer
With the future assistance of AI, you’ll no longer need to snap and send a picture of that outfit you’re considering to your bff for her opinion. As data collection and machine learning continue to help us understand – and predict – customer behavior and preferences, fashion brands of all sizes are looking for innovative ways to utilise this technology.
Google, in partnership with German fashion platform Zalando, has already experimented with user-driven AI fashion design with its Project Muze. The experiment used a neural network trained to understand colors, textures, style preferences, and other “aesthetic parameters” and then developed an algorithm to create designs based on users’ interests and alignment with the style preferences recognized by the network.
Amazon too has conducted projects using images to learn about particular fashion styles and create similar images from scratch.
Companies like Stitch Fix are already leading the charge towards AI-driven fashion. The U.S. subscription-based service uses algorithms that analyse consumers’ favourite colours, patterns, and textiles, then submits new design suggestions to human designers for approval. The pieces that are chosen and designed perform comparably to those from its fashion brand suppliers.
Many of the technologies emerging in manufacturing are enabling companies to build scalable, sustainable production at a faster pace. Fast fashion, in which designs move from catwalk to store shelves in 6 months rather than 18, is expanding rapidly at lower price points.
In the recent past fashion labels would have to make a large investment in hundreds – or even thousands – of items to achieve a reasonable price point,, Today, decreased production costs allow small or up-and-coming brands to enter the market with modest investment by manufacturing smaller batches of product.
One of the emerging drivers for faster production is automation and robotics. While sewing with pliable, elastic fabrics presents a challenge for hard robots, some companies have already discovered innovative ways to work around these problems. One company uses water-soluble stiffening solutions making cloth temporarily cardboard-like, while another is developing “Sewbots” which are equipped with robotic arms, vacuum grippers, and specialized “micromanipulators”, to guide cloth through a sewing machine with submillimeter precision.
Inventory and distribution
Many of these products will never be sold through traditional retail channels. As retail spaces close up shop, many D2C brands will focus on developing a strong online presence, leveraging capabilities such as “See-Now Buy-Now” to reach customers in new ways while driving ecommerce at an even more rapid pace.
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Resource: eCommerce Report 2018 – Fashion – Statista Digital Market Outlook – Segment Report
CBInsights — The Future Of Fashion: From Design To Merchandising, How Tech Is Reshaping The Industry