The fashion industry has always been fast-paced. But, in this digital era, it has the capacity to change faster than ever.

This change applies to everything in the industry, from sustainability and marketing, through to customer experience and sales. The lingering question is: what’s next?

Marketing

Facebook was launched in 2004 and since then, social media has become one of the most effective marketing tools available to brands, including fashion brands.

By taking advantage of data-driven advertising, targeted ads, catchy hashtags, influencer promotions and shoppable content, brands aren’t just engaging with and inspiring their audiences, they’re selling products.

ASOS is a great example of a brand leveraging social media. Through #AsSeenOnMe, the brand encourages users to share photos of themselves in ASOS products. Curators then repost the images on Instagram and on a landing page, going so far as to link back to their website to that other users can shop the products themselves. It’s a win-win. ASOS gets authentic content, customers get the spotlight and users are converted into customers.

Sustainability

The fashion industry is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to carbon emissions and technology is helping to change this in more ways than you’d expect.

The internet has allowed companies to take business online and out of stores. This gives them an opportunity to avoid dead stock and overproduction. For example, we’re seeing more and more made-to-measure suit companies shifting from showrooms to domains, allowing users to customise and self-measure. The result is a truly one-of-a-kind garment at an affordable price that’s produced to order.

For companies who aren’t producing bespoke products, a database is being created that tracks materials left over from the production process. With as much as 15% of fabric ending up trashed, repurposing the fabric will mean a lot in terms of sustainability.

Customer Experience

We’ve witnessed the shift from brick and mortar shops to e-commerce but soon, it will shift again. This time, from e-commerce to m-commerce (shopping via mobile devices). It’s estimated that by 2021, 53.9% of all e-commerce will take place on phones.

There is no longer a beginning and end point during a point-of-sale. Or, at least, it’s not black and  white. The customer experience could start with a Google search and end with a review they post six months after purchase. This means that retailers have had to adapt, appealing to customers with virtual showrooms, real-time customer service and more accessible online information.

The Future

It’s impossible to say what’s next but, with 3D printers becoming more accessible, we could see a dramatic change in the fashion industry not unlike what we’ve seen happen in the music industry with the invention of MP3. Like people share music, people will be able to share, print and sell designs.

One thing is for sure, the fashion industry is evolving alongside technology and we shouldn’t expect it to slow down any time soon.