Fashion, a word that evokes multiple imageries of celebrities, runway models, catwalk ramps, gorgeous models.
Fashion is a style that is popular in the present or a set of trends that have been accepted by a wide audience.
But the bitter truth of Fashion is that it is a very complex process involving forecasting of several influences and parameters like cultural- geographical influences merge with psychographic trends, lifestyles, demographics segmentation.
Fashion according to me is a style statement which elevates the emotional quotient of its user.
It is not only an art but a science as well.
Fashion is wherein Creativity meets data analysis, it is an amalgamation of the left and right side of the brain.
Why fashion is complex?
To forecast a trend, consumers changing habits, emotions, demographical shifts coupled with influences that would make a particular trend more fashionable is a very complex process. We (retailers) call it Fashion Forecasting.
Why fashion forecasting is important?
It is no longer a question of identifying your customers by age, geography or income, but looking into how and why they buy, based on their mood, beliefs and the occasion.
Fashion today transcends from clothes to cosmetics, cars, shoes, bags, sports, athletic wear, leisure wear etc.
What is fashion forecasting?
Trends are the styling ideas that major collections have in common. They indicate the direction in which fashion is moving.
Fashion forecasters look for styles they think are prophetic, ideas that capture the mood of the times and signal a new fashion trend.
Fashion forecasting is an analytical way of predicting fashion trends, consumer’s preferences, habits, styles that would dominate the upcoming seasons.
Predicting a fashion trend, colors, fabrics, and patterns is an important aspect of any fashion business.
The success of big fashion houses like LVMH, Gucci, Armani, Dior lies in their art and craft of mastering this technique of understanding and predicting fashion trends.
Bridge to luxury brands or mass brands follow these trends and bring its elements into their collections by mass producing their collections for the masses.
How does technology making a difference in fashion?
Fashion brands need to know what their customers want before they release their next collections or range.
Here let me present statistics from Mckinsey study, which states that over the last decade, 82% of the economic profit from fashion sales has gone only to 20% fashion houses of the world.
Majority of fashion brands either struggle to survive or break even.
That’s the bitter truth about the world of fashion.
Read about how Zara is adopting digitalization, click here.
Challenges to fashion forecasting:
Being on trend and fashion no longer guarantees your profits.
You can never predict which trend can go viral on social media and makes your collection sit on the shelves despite heavy discounting.
Hence the majority of the fashion brands are now using fashion influencers to market its collections by developing its own marketing content so that they are able to sell their collection in the shortest span of time using the power of influencers and social media.
One of the Middle Eastern retailers recently has launched its celebrity influencer endorsed collection recently which establishes the point that you need to be top of current trends, outsell and make some moolah (profits) in a shortest possible time span.
Must Do’s for Fashion brands.
Stay relevant by using your own data:
Analyze historical sales data with the associated trends/events and use these insights in predicting sales for their upcoming collections.
Use social media:
To monitor and track the new emerging fashion trends.
Building a shorter supply chain lead times:
For fashion items so that the response time to market demand could be addressed. Longer lead times are acceptable in basics or never out of style items like white tees or black tees etc.
Make use of digital tools like Google fashion insights:
To track the consumers search for fashion i.e. what items are consumers tracking for fashion, is it the off-shoulder dress, tops, sequins tops or boyfriend jeans etc. What is their age profile? All can be tracked and used in fashion forecasting.
Case Study: What are Fast fashion or Fashion forward brands?
“Fast fashion” is the new mindset of the millennials who believes that fashion clothes are not meant to last for seasons.
You quickly grab the current trend, produce it fast (often priced it cheaply) and put it into the stores so that fashion conscious buyers quickly purchases the same and ride the wave of trends.
Having managed a fast fashion brand i.e. FOREVER 21, I have acquired the principles behind the creation of fast fashion collections which are mainly:
Tomorrow’s trends today:- which makes the collection HOT and Trendy.
A collection that does not burn a hole in your pocket – Pocket-friendly fashion.
Limited styles per collection – limited pieces per style prompts for “call to action” if you don’t buy now, tomorrow there is no guarantee you would find that style in the store.
Brands like Zara, Uniqlo are all build on these 3 pillars of fast fashion
watch this video content
Hope my article would help retailers and my retail connections to understand the commercial aspect of fashion at great length.
In case if any of my retail fraternity members needs cutting edge solutions to their retail problems, they can write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I shall try to answer to their queries to best of my abilities.
“Let’s all grow together” is my belief.
What is yours?
References: Mckinsey report on fashion & Google insights on fashion.
About the author:
Ritesh Mohan is a passionate retail professional with over 20 years in the Retail sector, handling some of the biggest brands in beauty, fashion and fragrances retail & FMCG sector. Ritesh has been instrumental in the growth of some of the regional brands as well in the Middle East region. He specializes in Retail management, Product development, and Brand Management, Retail Operations, Sales Management, and Franchising & Business Management. He strongly believes in empowering business owners with his wisdom & experience of around two decades in the industry.