Fashion is the product of its times.
Each era in fashion industry has brought with it something new. The 1960s introduced geometric patterns. The next decade was about earth tones, greys, whites and blacks. The 1980s ushered in fashion influenced by MTV, as young viewers tuned in to the channel and fashion spread from there. The 1990s marked the beginning of fabric treats for consumers. As each era ended, it left something valuable for designers and fashion brands.
With the advent of the digital age and easy accessibility to mobile phones, social media and the Internet, fashion has a new meaning. Online apparel sales are as important as store sales. The world of fashion is artistically, culturally and commercially involved in the digital world. Fashion is not only changing faster, it is reaching people in every part of the world at a great pace because of the digital world.
Ubiquity of the digital
The fashion industry is still undergoing a transformation and there are both high-end as well as local brands that have adjusted well to digital innovations. As digital channels expand, they have lowered the entry barriers for the fashion industry, making it a truly global industry. There are certain intimidating factors for like rising competition, plagiarism and the increased need to connect not only with customers but also with suppliers, manufacturers and employees.
The digital world has unquestionably proved a boon for fast fashion, as online portals guarantee more visibility. However, there are certain high-end luxury brands that are yet to launch apparel and accessories via virtual retail. These brands fear losing brand exclusivity. They may also be daunted by rules and regulations that differ in various countries. This makes use of digital channels cumbersome. "Luxury is all about touch and feel. It is different from buying at the click of a button," said Sanjay Kapoor, MD at Genesis Luxury, which retails many luxury brands including Paul Smith, Canali, Armani and Bottega Veneta in the country.
Yet, fashion brands cannot completely ignore the perks of the digital age as a huge chunk of the population checks out fashion trends and brands on either social media sites or on popular online blogs. According to Harminder Sahni, founder of retail consultancy firm Wazir Advisors, "What most brands are doing now is to put out their catalogues and information on their websites for people to make better choices rather than selling directly." With rising income of the working class, luxury brands are finding more takers.
However, experts believe that selling a US$ 20,000 Chanel suit online is different from selling a US$ 500 suit. There is marked difference between affluent customers and mass shoppers. While affluent customers value quality and are extremely brand-aware, the other segment looks out for pocket-friendly products. Not all brands can retain the customer relationship or convince buyers to shell out money online. The digital world has made this a strictly competitive game and it is difficult to influence customers' decisions.