Lucas Ritondale looks at how the fashion industry is using technology to deliver high-end Fashion Week style in super quick time
The month-long, twice-yearly, four-country Fashion Week ‘system’ has long been the defining standard for the fashion industry, setting the styles for the next season before a FROW full of editors, celebs and fashion industry execs. Traditionally, these privileged few had first-hand access to chosen pieces from various collections, which would only be available to buy some four-to-six months later, with fashion week participants and attendees acting as the industry gatekeepers. With research claiming that New York Fashion Week is worth almost $900 million to the city each year, including an estimated $532 million in visitor spending, with similar figures quoted for London, Milan and Paris, there is obviously money to be made via the Fashion Week treadmill.
However, changing times mean the system is having to adapt to keep pace with our era of fast-fashion and instant customer gratification. Where fashion week kept the customers under tight control, giving them a peek at just some of the items they could expect to buy six months down-the-line, this simply isn’t good enough for today’s customers who, empowered by social media, online shopping and super-fast deliveries, want to see something, be it on the runway or online, and be able to wear it the next day. For women in particular, research suggests that fashion fatigue sets in very quickly having been so bombarded with images of garments on the runway, at awards shows and via ad campaigns, that when the garments actually reach the stores, they seem unexciting and already dated.
The fashion industry is responding to a certain extent, with some fashion houses moving their shows to LA to coincide with awards season, for example, and some even selling selected items direct from the runway in an effort to prevent cheaper ‘copycats’ from hitting stores before they do. The real change is happening with the less high-end brands, those who make fashion for the masses, with the most switched-on businesses using the power of social media to get ahead of the competition.
You can’t escape the fact that fashion week runways aren’t as exclusive as they used to be, with people now able to see the new collections from the comfort of their own sofa, either direct from the designer or through the filter of a fashion blogger or Instagram account. Therefore, the fashion businesses who not only attend fashion week but who also monitor and use social media to assess reactions to new items, styles and garments etc, can hit the ground running when it comes to giving customers what they want and when they want it.
While it’s all very well for brands to monitor social media to gain an idea into which styles resonate most with potential customers, with a view to being first to market with fashion-forward items, it’s what they do with this information that really matters. By using this insight and intelligence wisely, fashion brands can shape their own sketchpad, accurately predicting and providing what customers want, boosting profits and customer loyalty in the process.
Fashion businesses who have systems in place to assist with accurate forecasting and demand planning already can use this information to increase further still the accuracy of their planning, ensuring they’re producing the right products at the right time and in the right quantities to fulfil customer requirements and gain more market share. Without the right systems like an ERP solution for Apparel and Footwear, you might be able to tell which items you should be producing, but only a joined-up business-wide system will furnish you with the right information to ensure you’re producing them in the quickest, most cost-effective way, boosting profits further still.
By having the right ERP systems in place, spanning all business functions and departments and uniting them within a single solution, fashion businesses give themselves the ability and agility needed to translate emerging trends and fashion week insight into cost-effective and timely production. With customers demanding high-end fashion at lower prices without a six month wait, it’s the businesses who make the most of the technology available to them who will come out on top, harnessing the power of social media in conjunction with robust business systems to get cutting-edge clothing to customers in record quick time.
To find out more about how implementing an ERP system specific to Apparel & Footwear can help you produce the right products in time for the next Fashion Week contact us.