Less than two weeks in, 2022 is already shaping up to be a huge year of growth and movement in fashion. There’s a palpable sense of change in the air, and as technology and fashion are finally converging, we’re about to see a revolution. What will this year mean for the fashion industry? Here are my predictions:
Blockchain in Fashion
Between crypto, NFTs, and the new advancements in Web3 technology, fashion is set to surf a wave of innovation based on the blockchain. Perennially plagued by counterfeiting, luxury fashion and collectible accessories are already turning towards decentralized networks to certify ownership and authenticity. It’s no longer the easily-lost certificate in a nice handbag.
Fashion brands will start utilizing the same minting platforms used by NFT artists to authenticate their goods, creating digital twins in the process that can be integrated into the metaverse. Customers will now have the opportunity to sport the newest fashions not just in real life but in virtual spaces like Decentraland, Sandbox, and Facebook’s new Meta venture. The most cutting-edge fashion will be created and exhibited 100% digitally, where the laws of gravity and thermodynamics don’t apply.
The magic of the blockchain is that it gives power back to the artists and creators, and that doesn’t stop at just the brand. Designers can start earning commissions from their work. For independent creators and intellectual property owners alike, a digital register can simplify keeping track of royalties, helping everyone involved reap the benefits of sales.
Interested in what else is on the horizon? Read my piece in Rolling Stone.
Ethical fashion is finally going mainstream. Consumers have read the stories about poor working conditions in factories, the climate-altering scale of modern fashion production, and the innovations brands are bringing to market. It’s finally all sinking in.
Sustainable principles are no longer fringe activism, and we’re all going to benefit. Concepts like the circular economy are taking hold in the design studio. A dress can’t just go from fiber to closet to landfill: it can now be designed to be broken back down and rebuilt endlessly. As customers begin to recognize the value in this kind of fashion, it becomes an added value in every SKU.
Our clients like SoftShirts and Anaak are already going down this path. Reaching for organic materials and human-first production, they are the trailblazers who are making fashion better. And they’re not the only ones.
Design doesn’t just happen in the studio. After almost two years of WFH, designers know they can harness their creativity from wherever they are. Brands will continue to empower their creative staff with flexible roles, empowered by new technology in design development.
With 3D modeling and advanced textile physics, pattern making software has grown leaps and bounds. Through further investment in 2022, designers can create new products from their laptops and iterate completely digitally—no sewing machine required.
With development instantaneous in the cloud, brands will save on sampling, spending less time and money on prototype development. Sophisticated digital design means less lead time and fewer resources used before going to market.
COVID-19 represented a shift in nearly every element of life, and getting dressed is no different. As we collectively put away our sweatpants, we’re taking a second look at who we want to be and what we want to wear.
From style we’ll keep from the pandemic (comfortable dressing, masks as an evergreen staple, and the recent vogue for logomania) to what we’ve been missing out on (event dressing, travel wardrobes, and likely, new sweats that don’t remind us of quarantine) fashion is ready for a big shift forward.
For brands, this means staying agile and responding to customer demands as soon as they’re spotted. Powerful forecasting will be de rigueur, and advanced replenishment systems can finally get us off the out-of-stock treadmill we’ve been running on for the past two years.
Working with retailers, though, will require a whole new approach. Work From Home culture isn’t going anywhere, and even when we’re back in the office, we’ll all be reevaluating our work trips. A successful brand in 2022 has to accommodate buyers from anywhere in the world, so setting up a B2B eCommerce platform is going to be an absolute essential. With these online stores, buyers can browse and add styles to their carts at their leisure, replicating the showroom experience from the comfort of their home or office.
We’re seeing signs of an economic reset already. As the status quo is evolving, more people are breaking molds and becoming entrepreneurs, fueling a small business boom that’s particularly noticeable within the fashion industry. These rule-breakers are shifting what it means to run a modern business, focusing first on their changing customer profile.
A new generation of shoppers is asking for different modes of browsing and buying. These Gen-Z customers are discovering products on social media like Tik-Tok and Instagram, and they’re forming relationships with brands long before they make their first purchase.
And no longer are they confined to brick-and-mortar stores and eCommerce outlets—they’re using a whole ecosystem of apps to make their purchases, highlighting the need for a comprehensive, multichannel customer experience. Brands will be well rewarded when they’re the first mover on new platforms and in emerging markets.
And when young customers do buy, optionality is still at the forefront. Businesses will quickly adopt cryptocurrency as a payment method, expanding its utility and its mass adoption. As a side benefit, these early adopters will earn increased social relevance from aligning themselves with both groundbreaking technology.
2022 is going to be full of surprises, but we’re looking forward to a year full of growth, improvement, and openness to change. As the fashion industry embraces the latest technology, we’ll be leading the way forward every step of the way.
-Brandon Ginsberg, ApparelMagic CEO