The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again. I have lost count of how many times I have heard this expression used in relation to fashion retail in 2019.
And yet, thinking back 10 years, I realise just how true it is. It is odd to think now, but a decade ago, Selfridges, H&M and Zara did not have transactional websites in the UK, Instagram was an unknown start-up, and the devastating Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh had yet to shine a spotlight on the damage irresponsible fashion production can do to communities in developing countries.
In fact, this week’s Drapers content underlines how much the industry has changed. We interview John Boumphrey, vice-president of Amazon Fashion Europe. Over the past 10 years, Amazon has revolutionised retail through its unrivalled fulfilment services and use of new technology. Now, it is ramping up its efforts to capture a larger slice of the fashion market.
Amazon stocks some of the biggest fashion brands, as well as five of its own labels, and its focus is on attracting customers through the area it excels at: innovation. By launching its “try before you buy” service in the UK, introducing limited-time-only influencer collaborations and employing visual search, it hopes to use new technology and marketing techniques to create more of a buzz around its fashion offer.
Sustainability is the other big game changer that is driving fast-paced developments in fashion. This week, we review some of the fledgling rental services that have gained attention over the past year or two, driven ostensibly by the desire to buy less clothing. Model Arizona Muse, influencers Lady Mary Charteris and Mille Mackintosh, and singer James Blunt were among those to wear rented outfits to The Fashion Awards on Monday night, suggesting this trend is not going anywhere.
And as awareness grows of the need to slow down our consumption of fashion and reduce waste, we report on All Good Things, which sells dead stock from well-known premium brands at a discount. Backed by some serious names in fashion retail, it is definitely one to watch.
None of these approaches to fashion retailing existed 10 years ago, and by next year they may already seem out of date. Change will never be this slow again – but for the innovators, there have never been more opportunities.