Six trends driving the future of fashion technology

In the post-tumblr age brands have to reappraise how they identify trends, and the fashion industry is leading the way, writes Nicola Kemp.

Six trends driving the future of fashion technology

"Real competitive advantage only comes with doing something different," explains Marc Worth, the founder and CEO of Stylus Media Group.

"It is all about social media and the whole concept of seasonal trends and the traditional ad campaign cycles simply doesn't work anymore. When a trend can emerge overnight the whole concept of trend analysis has been turned on its head."

As Virgil Abloh, Kanye West's creative director who recently launched his own label Off-White, aptly declared: "Instagram is faster than Vogue."

With this in mind, here are six trends impacting the future of fashion, as discussed at the launch of Stylus Fashion, the new research and advisory service for the fashion industry, which rolled this week.

1 - Beta everything

Among Millennial consumers, ‘thinking beta’ has become a way of life. Nothing is immune from the desire to try before you buy.

Research from the US reveals that 43% of Millennials would even support a beta testing period for marriage, whereby couples could sign up for a two-year trial period and walk away with their finances, if not their hearts, intact if everything went wrong. In line with this trend, brands must reappraise their approach to attracting and building loyalty amongst fickle Millennials.

2 - Keeping it simple: life unbundled

While the world around us is becoming increasingly complex, the tools through which Generation Z decipher it are increasingly brutally simplistic. Tessa Mansfield, content and creative director at Stylus, says: ‘‘In a world of constant flux they crave easy to adopt and easy to delete apps."

In line with this, a new generation of brutally simplistic apps is gaining traction – from Snapchat to Push for Pizza and Yo, the latter of which was recently valued at $10m and simply allows users to say Yo to one other.

This trend towards one app with one function, executed with speed and ease, is in sharp contrast to the continued drive to bundle services and products by traditional media companies.

3 - Lifestyle Integration

Bradley Quinn, head of Fashion Futures at Stylus, explains: "In a business world where numbers rule, it's the companies with the ability to harness consumer loyalty who prevail. Industry leaders will care less about how technology can track customer journeys, and more about how it can heighten consumer experiences and satisfaction."

4 - Beyond wearables

To date, the focus on wearable technology has often failed to decipher just how seamless the ultimate integration of data and fashion will be. Young designers are willing and able to apply tech solutions to creative thinking.

Commenting on why, despite the hype, wearables have failed to be matched by significant mass-market adoption by consumers, Stylus' Quinn says: "The human body is very hard on wearable technology once they go into the washer and the drier you have problems."

Today, however, developments in stretchable circuits and batteries mean that wearables may finally become more than just the industry's favourite soundbite.

5 - 'Bio-technology is the new sustainability'

The future of textiles and fabrics will be one of rich development. While the industry has tired of the concept of 3D printing, its promise – a future in which brands could effectively create products in store – is too great to ignore.

Advances in biotechnology promise more sustainable alternatives to animal products such as leather, prompting Stylus’ Quinn to declare "bio-technology is the new sustainability".

6 - Season universal and season neutral

Brands from Burberry to Dolce & Gabbana have leap-frogged traditional season-cycles in order to better embrace the extremes of the global economy, where someone somewhere will always simultaneously need a sandal or a moon boot.

Those brands that are still dependent on the traditional seasonal calendar soon won’t be able to shake the feeling that the season is over before it began.

The concept of ‘season universal’ also extends to brands outside of the fashion sphere who can adopt the model of a content calendar based around key events and religious festivals. This shift could prove a headache for many of the UK’s leading marketers, who have traditionally held bad weather responsible for poor sales.