The amount of change in the retail fashion industry was unprecedented in 2015. Digital strategies were worked, and reworked again, to embrace the shopping habits of millennials and homelanders. Retailers started taking a “mobile first” approach in their digital strategies, since mobile apps and websites for fashion and luxury brands account for 33% of total sales. For the first time ever, Black Friday Weekend (Thursday thru Sunday) saw a significant downturn in brick and mortar sales, at 20.43 Billion, which is an estimated 10.4% decrease over 2014. Retail ecommerce spend increased considerably from 2014 to 2015 on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with the most e-commerce spend, 2.3 Billion, occurring on Cyber Monday at a 12% increase of 2014. Will stores continue to lose shoppers as experiences become more important than things? The surge in on-line holiday ordering has affected carriers such as UPS and Fed-Ex, who saw their on-time delivery rates decline last week 6% and 2%, compared to 2014.
Globally, things weren’t much better. China’s recession has young luxury shoppers moving away from conspicuous consumption to more modest lifestyles, and luxury brands such as LVMH and Burberry have seen their sales growth effected by less spending in China. Product sourcing continues to move out of China to Sub-Saharan Africa due to the rapidly rising cost of labor in China. Companies such as VF Corp, PVH, and Levi’s have begun producing goods in Africa. How will new sourcing strategies effect retailers Global Supply Chains?
Finally, the connected consumer has changed the way brands interact with them, and there were quite a few novel developments in 2015. Among my favorites are the brands who have democratized their fashion shows, allowing consumers to view on-line in real time. Rebecca Minkoff announced on December 14th that her New York Fashion Week show in February will present her current spring line, one that will already be in stores, to retailers and their best customers, bloggers and editors; 30-50% of the audience will be “everyday” consumers, turning her show into a “show now, see now, buy now, wear now” brand rather than show a collection that will be delivered four to six months before it lands in a store. The same day, the Council of Fashion Designers in America (CDFA) announced plans to “fix a broken system” and is supporting a movement to turn the twice-yearly fashion shows into a consumer-facing rather than industry event by presenting in-season collections that are already in the stores.
What will 2016 look like for the fashion industry? As 2015 has shown, we can expect another year of unprecedented change!