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The Digital Future of the Fashion Industry

Diana Vreeland, the former editor-in-chief of Vogue, a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar, and member of the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, once said, “Fashion is part of the daily air and it changes all the time.”  
In the Digital Age, many of these changes have revolved around technology. New tools and platforms have allowed many fashion houses to secure even more time in the spotlight for their dynasties. Newer brands have also used technology to launch their lines and capture attention that was once reserved only for household names.
Fashion will continue to change, but the importance of technology won’t. The digital landscape is now – and always will be – as much a part of the fashion industry as the runway.

5 Examples of Digital Tools Shaping the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is known for its dynamic nature. There’s a reason one of the most common words among its adherents is “trend.” Every year has a trend. Every season has a trend.
However, digital technology in the fashion industry is no trend. Here are five examples of how it’s actively shaping the future for designers and customers alike.

1. WeChat – the King of Collaboration

Few industries thrive on collaboration as much as fashion. While outsiders may be familiar with names like Chanel and Marc Jacobs, the truth is that no piece of clothing is ever created without the help of a collaborative tour de force.
In recent years, entire brand collaborations have even become commonplace.
So, it’s not surprising that WeChat has found so many admirers among the fashion industry. Of course, those adopters are far from alone. WeChat boasts more than 889 million monthly users all over the world who, on average, use it for more than 50 minutes 9 to 11 different times a day.
Unlike messaging apps that preceded it, WeChat was designed for group chatting, specifically. Other apps have since followed suit, but WeChat has always been about collaboration since the very beginning. In an industry that puts a premium on teamwork, WeChat has become a powerful resource.
It’s also made a major impact on how consumers make purchases. In fact, name-brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry have leveraged the popular app to sell directly to their consumers in what has been described as, “China’s latest luxury craze.” That’s because WeChat makes it almost effortless for a shopper to become a customer.
Customisable mini campaigns can be used for in-store checkouts, pop-up shops, and even entire product launches.
Last year, Dior took advantage of this by launching a mini campaign that allowed customers to pick a number of options from a wide range of gifts, leave their payment method on file, and then share it with their recipients. Those recipients, in turn, could then choose exactly what they wanted from that list.

2. Smart Product Recommendations

Every fashionista would love having their own personal shopper, someone who understands their sense of style and can make recommendations about what to wear.
This kind of personal attention is no longer reserved for celebrities and the super-wealthy and is becoming more democratised and available for online shoppers.
That’s because the combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and image-recognition technology has made these types of fashion recommendations possible for anyone with a phone.   

3. Hyper-Personalisation

Similarly, e-commerce sites now have the ability to customise their entire web presence to each individual visitor by leveraging the power of personalisation.
Again, there’s a real-life version of this, but it was something that only the wealthy could ever afford to experience. Even stores along New York City’s famous Fifth Avenue or Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive have been known to temporarily shut down for their most preferred shoppers, customising their displays just for that one person.
Online, fashion brands can now do this with hyper-personalisation.
This powerful methodology allows companies to continuously customise their web shops for an individual the more that person purchases from them. British retailer Joseph Turner uses personalisation tools to connect with their customers and was able to increase AOV by 30% in just two months. 
In the fashion industry, brands can increase conversions by showing shoppers products that match their unique tastes. Based on their activity, personalisation tools can allow you to make recommendations that help reduce issues like cart abandonment and encourage repeat customers.
4. Face-Voice Recognition
Another way technology is making it even easier for fans of fashion to connect with their favourite brands is by eliminating the need for a keyboard in order to do so online. Instead, we’re seeing the dawn of voice-controlled shopping, wherein shoppers can simply tell their computers or smartphones what they’re in the mood to wear, and their devices will show them their options.
This is no minor trend, either.
Last year, OC&C Strategy Consultants released research that concluded, “voice shopping” would be worth $40 billion by 2022, up from just $2 billion in 2018. That’s why companies like Estée Lauder, Nike, and Uniqlo have already invested in it, creating interfaces specifically for voice commands.
British fashion retailer ASOS launched their venture into the voice-command market last year with Enki, a chatbot that can also respond to verbal prompts from shoppers.
Furthermore, Enki’s “Style Match” technology gives users the ability to search ASOS’ online inventory for items they like, even if they don’t already own them. They can simply send the bot a photo they took of the item and Enki will return similar results – more hyper-individualisation.
Using one’s voice is easily among the most natural ways of communicating, certainly far more so than typing away on a keyboard. Making it that much easier for shoppers to look for the fashions they want will have a huge effect on the industry. Aside from increasing conversions, simply increasing searches will give brands far more information about what their shoppers are interested in wearing.

Is Your Fashion Company Ready for the Future?

In the coming years, fashion companies will view the aforementioned types of technology in one of two ways.
Those that failed to adapt to the digital age and adopt these technologies will have a hard time innovating and connecting with their markets.
Those that take the time to leverage this kind of technology will find that just about every single aspect of their business improves significantly.
Which one will yours be?
Place a priority on embracing this burgeoning technology and you’ll find you have more opportunities than ever before to keep your label in front of the people who love it.

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