The social and environmental issues within the fashion industry are well documented. The industry knows it needs to act responsibly and work sustainably for the sake of the millions of workers it employs, not to mention the future of the business itself. We tend to think that fashion is all about change, and yet we are one of the most change-resistant industries in the world.
Research shows that looks come first for ethical fashionistas, who tend to buy sustainable fashion. While consumers might have a clearer picture of the not-so-glamorous reality behind fashion production, especially after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh, not much has changed in regard to their shopping habits. This reaction doesn’t really come as a surprise. Fashion and sustainable fashion must meet and mingle. They can no longer be two separate categories and movements. If ethical fashion wants to find a place, it’s going to have to look pretty similar, if not better, than its fast-fashion alternative.
Two key themes emerging in the retail market today are the need for more continual and impactful customer engagement and the increasing impact of sustainability and social-responsibility issues on business decision-making.
To more intimately and continually attract and engage customers, retailers are focusing on getting faster at developing product. Speed-to-market seems to be the No. 1 topic across all segments of the apparel/fashion world. While traditional new-product development cycles stretch out to 18 months—many retailers have already launched development of their collections for Spring 2018—retailers are finding that customers are gravitating toward stores, sites or apps that are always launching new, fresh, “of-the-moment” products.
What we need to do is encourage consumers to seek out sustainable products in the same way they seek out trendy new items. This is a challenge. Consider smokers and how often anti-smoking campaigns fail; when threatened with frightening consequences, we go into denial, continuing with our bad habits. The best way to promote behavior change is to make an alternative behavior seem more appealing; it’s got to be cool! Brands can no longer rely on having two big seasons a year and keeping their customers’ attention. New and frequent capsule collections have been proven to attract and keep consumer attention. Whether it’s the success of fast-fashion brands or the “see-now-buy-now” movement sweeping the luxury segment, traditional retail is threatened and slowly responding. Similarly, we need to respond to our sustainability challenges in ways that appeal to consumers.
Read the full article on California Apparel News.