BoF’s VOICES conference and State of Fashion Report reveal the key trends and concerns for the fashion industry looking towards 2019.
Last week, VOICES — BoF’s annual gathering in Oxfordshire — once again pushed the envelope with a packed schedule that sought to discuss the future of the industry, as well as highlighting some of the pressing issues which industry leaders (many of whom were in attendance) have the power to act on. From the luxury cannabis economy, understanding the values of Gen Z, and India’s rising purchasing power, to harnessing technology like AI and Blockchain, VOICES 2018 covered a diverse range of topics.
Some highlights from the event were inspiring and full of hope: Stella McCartney was given the VOICES Global Award for her leadership in pioneering a more sustainable fashion industry, and also announced a charter to combat climate change, made in partnership with the United Nations. Other highlights were less optimistic, but nonetheless important. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie’s widely circulated speech revealed that the trend forecaster had effectively “weaponised” fashion brands to help elect Donald Trump in 2016, while designer and activist Katharine Hamnett discussed Brexit with Shahmir Sanni and Rohan Silva.
This year, the industry has faced a steadily growing cacophony of news stories and reports which hailed the downfall of everything from Chinese luxury spend to material availability and trade relationships between superpower economies. Released during VOICES, the Business of Fashion’s State of Fashion report — made in conjunction with consultancy firm McKinsey & Co — sets the record straight on the next 12 months.
Grounded in surveys, interviews with industry thought leaders and chief executives, and analysis, the report highlights the top 10 themes set to drive the industry’s decisions in 2019. These include:
Caution ahead: Downward movements in key economic indicators and other potentially destabilising forces will conspire to create a more cautious mood.
Indian ascent: India will become a focal point for the fashion industry as its middle-class consumer base grows and manufacturing sector strengthens.
Trade 2.0: All companies will need to prepare contingency plans for facing a potential shake-up of global value chains.
End of ownership: The lifespan of the fashion product is becoming more elastic as pre-owned, refurbished, repair and rental business models continue to evolve.
Being woken up: Younger generations’ passion for social and environmental causes have reached critical mass, causing brands to become more fundamentally purpose-driven to attract both consumers and talent.
Now or never: In the mobile consumer journey, the gap between discovery and purchase has become a pain point for a more impatient fashion consumer who seeks to purchase exactly the products they discover, immediately.
Radical transparency: After years of having personal data owned and handled by businesses, a more distrusting consumer now expects companies to reciprocate with radical transparency and sharing of information.
Self-disruption: Traditional brands are beginning to disrupt their own business models, image and offering in response to a new breed of small emerging brands that are accelerating thanks to decreasing brand loyalty and a growing appetite for newness.
Digital land-grab: As the race to be the platform of choice for both customers and brands intensifies, e-commerce players will continue to innovate by adding profitable value-added services.
On-demand: Automation and data analytics have enabled a new breed of start-ups to achieve agile made-to-order production.
You can read the report in full here.