Buzzwords that Redefine the Modern Apparel Industry

Frances Harder

With the Millennials and Gen Z consumers’ ever-increasing awareness and sensitivity to address sustainability, social injustices, wearable technology and recycling to name a few affecting their buying power that is demanding change from traditional manufacturers and retailers. The new buzz words are a new recipe to consider when starting your own brand. It will be important to analyze how in particularly can these new descriptive words be incorporated to improve the chances to be successful as a brand in this rapidly changing retail environment.   

  • Athleisure – Athletic clothing to wear all day! From Gym to lunch or keep the leggings and a nice blouse and a jacket, or long top over the leggings, and your good to go from gym to lunch and to dinner.
  • New Technology for Textiles – Fabrics made from sea weed, fermented wine and recycled plastic to name a few revolutionary textiles.
  • 3D Printing – From shoes, bags, jewelry and soon to be available in clothing. Choose your style and print it. Then when you have enough of that style you can recycle it.  Go to a store have your body scanned and choose a style and see that style virtually on yourself. If you like it they would 3D print it and then ship it to you.
  • Sustainability – Recycling, upcycling from old to new and bio degradable fibers to name a few. So much is happening due to the demand to address the landfills full of used clothing.
  • Smart Clothing – By combining fiber with electronics, to develop smart performance clothing, like temperature control, medical measurements, fall down detection and positioning. All of these innovative textile’s modules can all be controllable with apps.
  • Online Sales – Amazon – Prime! The Elephant in the Room!  Direct online sales to the customer is now here to stay and growing. Bricks and mortar are forced to change their business model, or face closures.
  • Immediates- Speed to market – With direct sales this means a need to get the goods to the customer as fast as possible. Manufacturers are producing goods ready to ship.
  • Popup Stores – The new way to market and sell direct to customers through a one- or two-day popup store that could be inside other stores or a standalone location.
  • Mass Customization – Made to Measure – Go to your favorite stores and choose a new style. After having your body scanned you will be able to see any styles as they would look and fit on your avatar.  Then the pattern is computerized and changed to fit your own specifications. The garment will then be sewn to your own measurements and shipped directly to you, or you can pick up from the store in case there are any fit issues.
  • Robot Production – Factories are moving over to producing clothing with a factory line of robots.  Big brands such as Nike are investing in building new high-tech factories in states like Arizona and Nevada.
  • Made in the USA – With speed to market in demand there is more investment in creating new more efficient factories and infrastructure domestically.
  • Millennials – Like the Baby Boomers from the 60’s, Millennials are new thinkers and are changing buying habits, which is making retailers rethink their own business models. Sustainable, plastic free, avocado sandwiches to name but a few. They prefer to spend on life experiences than new clothing.
  • Baby Boomers – They are the largest group of aging people and as such have their own demands for their life needs. They want to stay relevant and also look young. As they grow older and hopefully live longer than their parents they will have a market that needs to be catered for.  
  • Eco-Friendly – e.g. Laborites grown leather from mushroom roots, this will help prevent the methane gas that cows create that is contributing to global warming.
  • Social Media – Finding positive “Influencers” to provide marketing and outreach is a crucial part of building a brand in 2019.
  • Recycle – Taking plastic bottles and melting down to then mix with organic cotton to create an Eco-friendly t-shirt is one of the new examples of both sustainable and recycling and even upcycling.
  • Upcycling – Many upscale stores are now asking customers to return garments to resale and for that they get a $100.00 coupon for their next sale. Or, buying from second hand stores and Goodwill stores a t-shirt then wash and print your logo and resale on line or at events is another example of this new term that is becoming big with Millennials.
  • Tech Sauvé – As opposed to technically challenged!  Every aspect of business today demands the use of technology. So, in order to succeed in a new business the owner will need to have a clear understanding of all the technical demands or have someone who understands the technological demands. And there are many technical uses that and now integrated into any new business.   
  • Website – From domain name choice to planning a website and brand identification. Before choosing a name for your new business it is important to make sure that any name for the new brand is available and there is no confusion in the market place. Not a good idea to choose a name like Adias as there will be a “cease and desist” letter from the lawyers for Adidas. It would all have added up to a big waste of time and money.
  • Social Injustices – Sweat shop conditions and fare wages are a very important aspect to anyone considering on manufacturing either domestically or off-shore. Please check licenses to ensure your contractors have all their legal permits and documents.  Or, to anyone considering a purchase from a junior labeled store, or a cheap discount store please think if you are purchasing clothing made by sweatshop in some part of the world!
  • Artificial Intelligence – Alexa’s Amazon voice – Is being used in stores to help people navigate stores and work with virtual stylists.
  • Virtual Reality – The beauty departments at Macy’s offer customers the ability to virtually try on eye shadow and lipstick with an augmented-reality mirror. Then other stores scan your body to virtually try outfits and see if you like them before going into a changing room.
  • Mobile Phone Apps – Use of phone apps for check-out – Scan your phone to pay and checkout.
  • Vintage and Resale Stores – With so many clothes hanging in closets and most of which are hardly worn there is a real market for these vintage or slightly used clothing.

All the above points are some important and relatively new developments that are impacting the textile and apparel industry. For brands to flourish and remain in business it will be crucial for them and for retailers to evaluate where they can incorporate these new demands for change. Because, if they choose not to adapt, they may find they will suffer business losses.  

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