The news comes as brands increasingly feel pressure to stay nimble in the face of the rapidly changing tastes of Chinese consumers. Tmall will compile long-term reports, extending at least six months out, that offer trend predictions for upcoming seasonal releases and category information that allows brands to strategise for specific products, such as handbags or footwear. For brands looking to thrive in today’s hyper-fast fashion cycles, Tmall will provide monthly fast-react forecasts that predict trends three months ahead.
“We hope to enable our brand partners to develop products which meet the desires of consumers and see them debut more on-trend items on our platform. And in return, we will provide them with sales and marketing channels that cater to different consumer segments, helping boost their conversion rates, while strengthening their influence as trend-setting brands," Tmall fashion and luxury president Jessica Liu said during the inaugural of the Shanghai Fashion Week concluding on April 7.
Tmall will leverage Alibaba’s artificial-intelligence technologies, including image and pattern recognition and natural language processing, to read trends in real-time. The trends will be drawn from Alibaba’s consumer analytics and insights from third-party partners, including brands, fashion media outlets, universities, textile authorities, such as Première Vision Paris and The Woolmark Company, along with fashion trend-forecasting firms, such as Paris-based Promostyl.
Pierre Lequeux, the Greater China representative for Première Vision, which specialises in trend forecasting for everything from textiles to fabrics, said Alibaba and fashion authorities such as his share the common goal of bringing clarity to clients on upcoming trends. “We look forward to partnering with Tmall to enable Chinese fashion brands through deeper and more-comprehensive insights and help them stay abreast of local and global trends."
"Today, we are capable of identifying trends. But in the long-term future, we hope together we can create trends,” Liu added.
Tmall also created a sample report for the spring-summer 2019 season. Done in collaboration with Alimama, Alibaba Group’s digital-marketing platform, the report offered general information about Tmall’s fashion-conscious consumers and highlighted four core buyers on the site: earthy minimalists, the rebel, the weekender and future-forward stylists.
The earthy minimalists, who like simple tailoring and natural fabric and colors, would likely purchase oversized suit jackets, straw totes for women or pinstripe suits for men. Among the rebels, loud colours and bohemian styles dominated. For this group, Tmall predicted that colourful tie-dye patterns would make a comeback, along with pop art-inspired creations that mix graphics of food with textile prints. It is this kind of insight and analysis upon which brands could make strategic decisions about the China market, the report by Tmall stated.
Over the next three years, Tmall aims to help 1,500 partner brands increase their sales and market share within a specific consumer group it classified as fashion-forward and trend-conscious. The small group has significant spending potential, as it accounted for a fourth of the total gross merchandise volume for apparel on the site last year. (RR)
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