All photos courtesy of Fashinnovation
The Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks is a conference which normally takes place in New York. Living in California, and raising a family, has made it difficult for me to travel to everything in the fashion industry I would like to attend, and be a part of. As a result of the current stay-at-home orders around the country, many events have moved into virtual formats; making it easy for people who would like to attend industry events without the need to travel. How fortunate are we for technology!
The fashion industry, as well as many other industries in the world, is at a standstill right now. Factories are closed, shops are shuttered, retail orders by retailers are being delayed or cancelled, and the industry has been forced to take a deep breath, and reset 2020; and possibly the future of how they run their businesses.
I was always taught that clothing and shoes were needs. We need to cover our bodies to protect our modesty and to guard against the elements. Shoes are also a necessity to protect our feet from the ground when we walk and run. In the era of Covid19, clothing and accessories have been deemed non-essential, and the industry has been told to close while the world gets this virus under control. While excessive shopping and filling up our closets with things isn’t a necessary thing, sometimes we do need fashion items for certain weather and activities. We can purchase these items inline and have them delivered to our homes, but traditional brick-and-mortar retail outlets have been temporarily closed down; so people cannot go out and shop in person. The question rises, do we need brick-and-mortar retail?
One of the topics during Fashinnovation was surrounding retail outlets, and what the future of brick-and-mortar might look like. Internet shopping has slowly been chipping away at traditional stores for years, this shut-down might be the chance the industry has to adapt and change to the future of the industry and how people prefer to shop. Millennial’s have a mantra, “Experiences not things,” and the retail industry understands this.
Kenneth Cole was one of the keynote speakers during Fashinnovation. One of the points he made was that the industry will need to tighten it’s belt, and evolve. Retail outlets will need to become more experimental, and that brands will need to interact more with their customers; not just to sell something, but to understand each other.
Eno Polo believe this pause in the industry will accelerate what was already happening in the industry. He sees customers enjoying online shopping and a larger percent will continue to shop online rather than return to stores. He sees shops as needing to turn into an environment instead of being rows and rows of racks. Stores will have more tech and turn into a place for customers to hang out, rather than purchase large amounts of items. He feels stores will no longer have a warehouse feeling, they will turn into experiences where the customer understands and relates to the brands or designers.
Harry Cunningham from Vera Bradley would like to see the current restaurant model move into fashion retail. He envisions a version of take-out where customers place and order and pick it up. Stores would be more of an experience rather than racks of things to sort through. He feels sales per square foot, which is a traditional measure of a stores success, while not be as important in the future as creating an experience in-store, and measuring how long a customer lingers inside the store, rather than spends, will be the new measure of success.. He also envisions the use of tech in his stores where augmented reality helps customers try on clothing, or see how a piece of furniture would look in a room. This would help eliminate touching things and trying on clothing before purchasing it. Shopping will include more virtual experiences, as well as safety measures which eliminate a lot of touching. The use of mobile wallets without any touching or signing, would be an ideal replacement for cash which tends to be dirty. Cunningham also spoke about lowering our carbon impact on the world, which was a common theme among speakers during the conference.
Sustainability was a huge theme during the Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks 2020 virtual conference. It’s incredible how many manufacturers and designers are recognizing the environmental impact all portions of the supply chain have on the planet, and they have many systems and ideas in place to overhaul the industry, and make it more sustainable. There are several companies already doing these new practices, while others have plans in place to move in that direction. This is good news as we look at photos online and through social media being posted right now from around the globe of the environment without it’s usual pollution; it’s beautiful right?
Giulio Bonazzi from Econyl is already working hard to make the environment a better place. His company recycles waste and makes products. He views a landfill as a goldmine. It’s a place to find recyclable materials to make thread and fabrications. Many of his high profile clients include adidas, Burberry, Prada, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, and more. His recycled materials are also used to make carpets and furniture. The fabrications can be continually recycled after someone is done with them. There is no limit as to how many times the fibers can be turned into something new. He lives in a recycling economy. Isn’t this amazing?
I was really excited when Runa Ray came on screen. It’s always fun to see someone you’ve met, and whose work you admire, speak at a high profile conference. Her collection has always been about sustainability, so her systems are something many in the industry can learn from. She employs a zero-stitching technique for her collection which results in zero waste; no fabric scraps! She also uses dying techniques with natural dyes which leave no trace in the water.
Ray expressed that this current economic pause is a great time to educate consumers about sustainability and become fashion activists. Consumers need to know about recycling fabric, and sustainable manufacturing techniques. This will help them make better informed decisions about purchasing products in the future. Runa Ray also would like to see bar codes on clothing which can be scanned and tell a client where the garment came from, what was it’s carbon footprint, and how to care for it. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I can’t wait for it!
Mara Hoffman, another designer I really admire, touched on all aspects of the industry. She sees this as a time to realize what is wrong with the industry, and where changes need to be made. It’s a time to fix internal practices you weren’t happy with in your business, and change for the good. She would like to see a move towards fewer collections during the year, and more sustainable practices. A new fashion calendar would help designers create collections which favor the planet, and not a throw-away society. Hoffman also expressed how designers need to own more of their company and sell their own product without reliance on other retailers. Sustainable collections and a move towards quality not quantity is part of the future she envisions for the industry. This is a time to reinvent, be creative, and consider the planet. She’s so inspirational!!
There were roughly ninety speakers at Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks 2020, and the overall consensus was a move towards more sustainable manufacturing processes and reinventing the fashion calendar. Designers envision a very small fashion week which would be live-streamed or broadcast to those who would normally fill seats at the shows. They see more fashion events taking place virtually rather than in person. The planet, and more localized sourcing and manufacturing, are the future for fashion industry as a whole. It’s amazing what designers and manufacturers are doing to help protect the planet, and bring the industry to a more localized system. I am excited to see what the future brings!
Thank you to Fashinnovation for inviting me to their conference. If you would like to learn more, please visit their website at Fashinnovation.nyc.