The State of Fashion

The McKinsey Report on Fashion Trends for 2020 including Commentary from Three Local Designers

The business of fashion and McKinsey & Company have teamed up to create an authoritative report that provides an annual picture of The State of Fashion within the global fashion industry. The report is a survey of over 290 global fashion executives and interviews with thought leaders and pioneers that also includes a fashion industry benchmark, the McKinsey Global Fashion Index (MGFI). The index is composed of over 500 various public and private companies and created to track the industry’s performance through three key variables: sales, operating profit and economic profit. The report showed, sadly, that the fashion executives surveyed across various value segments and regions foresaw a slowdown in the industry in 2020. The percentage of survey respondents that expect global economic conditions to improve in the next year has fallen dramatically from 49% from 2019 to 9% for 2020.

Sustainability is a growing trend, and while the number of mass-market products made from sustainable materials remains low, there has been a 500% increase over the past two years.

The Norwegian Consumer Authority (CA) prompted H&M to more clearly communicate to consumers about the pollution it creates, and the report predicted to see even higher standards.

Apps like Good On You and Buycott better encourage young, environmentally conscious consumers and raise awareness for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s HIGG index (for personal sustainability assessment).

Fashion tech has begun to revolutionize the thinking of upcoming millennial fashion designers who are trying to appeal to both this generation and the next.

Established brands and trendsetters like Louis Vuitton and Gucci are now more interested in developing gaming experiences in order to drive sales rather than creating virtual clothing collections. Gucci is launching augmented reality apps aimed at assisting smartphone users with making purchase decisions after trying on digital sneakers virtually using augmented reality start-up Wanna Kicks.

Louis Vuitton recently became the first luxury brand to partner with the video game League of Legends by offering in-game “skins.”

FarFetch, for instance, markets its clothing through a gaming app called Drest, which assigns players humanlike avatars, and people can actually buy fashionable digital clothing for their avatars. In order to improve our understanding of the situation, we consulted three leading fashion designers. Here are a few key takeaways from their interviews:

Anna Vo – Saigon

Anna Vo is the Global Ambassador at Istituto Maragonini, Creative Director at PNJ, Founder, and Creative Director of Anna Vo Fashion. Having been in the industry for a decade, Anna has quite closely observed a vast shift from the traditional shop-based purchasing to online buying.

According to Anna, fashion and technology complement each other, and any brand that doesn’t accept the marriage between these two verticals cannot sustain. She points out that fashion giants like GAP, Zara, Forever21 and H&M have lost their customer loyalty because of “weak digitization policies” and less focus on customer-centric bespoke fashionables. All of her customers are discovering that purchasing fast fashion does not make you unique.

Anna replied positively regarding Revival trends, recalling Jenifer Lopez wearing a 20-year-old famous brand in a show last year. She stated that the present mindset of fashion is pulled out from a mix of the 70s and 90s eras. Anna also replied positively about the effects of political and geopolitical challenges on fashion. The global trade war between the US and China and the most recent coronavirus have hugely impacted the fashion industry supply chain.

She suggested that upcoming fashion designers with startups need to find their market niche brands. They also need to focus on more trends of personalization rather than creating self-made fashion wear and gear benchmarks.

At PNJ, where she is the creative director, QR codes and IoT technology are used in marketing its brand of jewelry through creating AI-VR games, quizzes and selfie contests. She added that customer reviews, overviews and comments make a huge impact on her designs and brand. She also suggested that her line developed when she moved away from ego-centric to customer-centric based fashion. Anna also advises new young talents interested in a career and developing their own line to first “intern, intern and intern.” Internships and mentoring programs are an invaluable source of inspiration for young designers. She hopes that young designers develop a much more mature, openminded mindset in order to accept international fashion influence.

Le Hoang Son – Hanoi

Son is a recent graduate of the London College of Design and Fashion in Hanoi and recently was first runner up in Asia New Gen Fashion award by Harper’s Bazaar magazine. He recently launched Lee Hoang Son Fashion, his own startup fashion brand.

Son was so taken by fashion that he gave up studying law at the objection of his parents, enrolled in the London School of Fashion and Design and has not looked back since.

He believes that because of the way technology is building a stronghold in the fashion circles, a complete revolution of traditional retail is not far off into the future. He terms the latest fad in Vietnam’s fashion industry as ‘fast fashion’—easily accessible fashion, procured quickly and stemmed from much less labor. In pointing out “weak digitization” policies as the most significant reason behind the closure of GAP, Forever21 and Macy’s, Son’s words echoed Anna Vo’s.

Further strengthening the case, he agreed that brands like H&M and Zara were gaining popularity in Vietnam because of their social media presence. Son also added that “celebrity-endorsed” fashion and the “international brand” phenomenon were important influencers for Vietnamese people.

Son also agreed to the impact of the Industry 4.0 revolution on fashion, pointing out that people in Singapore were using QR codes online to scan and access printable images and videos for madeto-order fashionables. Son chose “originality” as the most dominating factor word for fashion.

Rena Kok – Singapore

Rena Kok was another winner of the local judging round of Harper’s Bazaar Asia New Gen Fashion Award that was held in Singapore. A recent graduate of LASALLE College of the Arts, she incorporated designs built on augmented reality technology. Rena also has her own fashion startup called Renakok Collection, which she promotes on her Instagram page. She also promotes her brand online on Fashion Crossover London. Rena is based in Singapore and specializes in textile fashion coupled with women’s accessories.

She believes that technology has made shopping so convenient that young fashion enthusiasts have made a complete shift from retail to online. Also, she said she’s been observing upcoming fashion designers wanting to promote sustainability clothing over any other type. While she emphasizes brand positioning and a targeted customer approach, she is also incorporating using QR codes into her design for scanning images ranging from regular to motif. Rena mainly focuses on fabric and materials for making her line of handbags and shoes compliment hip dress culture. She puts emphasis on brand positioning and targeted customer approaches.

Fashion and smartphone scanning are a perfect match and there are already applications of QR codes on clothing being used successfully. Smart PJs wanted a way to differentiate their pajamas from the crowd, so when parents scan the codes on these PJs, they can play a video using the video QR code or audio to help chlidren get to sleep. Rochambeau, a New York-based design company, came up with something they dubbed a “smart jacket.” This futuristic-sounding jacket came with a zip pocket on one arm, which held a QR code, and when scanning the codes, wearers can find out about music, fashion and art events being organized under the Rochambeau brand, and even access discounts at The New Stand—Rochambeau’s retail partners. Elite brands like Rochambeau and children’s pajama brands aren’t alone in using scannable codes on clothes, Zara added QR codes to their labels, providing information about sizes and colors, and how their garments are made. Burlesque legend and designer Dita Von Teese used QR codes to promote her personal brand, attaching codes to her dresses which linked directly to her Twitter page. The Hointer app uses codes linked to robotics ‘droids” which then collect shoes or shirts in the correct size and bring them straight to shoppers with no fuss in between.

The biggest take away from the McKinsey report and interviews from local designers reveal that over 70%, or more than two-thirds of fashion players, believe “increased exploration of spending on new media platforms vs. ‘traditional’ platforms” will be a top theme in the coming year.

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