Discover the future of fashion

In a time of deep changes in the international fashion world, where new business models, a new generation of consumers and new types of products are emerging, what can we expect in the future? What is the path companies must take to respond to the challenges? Who are the new clients? How do they behave? What do they seek? These were the starting points for the discussion “The Future of Fashion”.

“The future is unpredictable”. The words are from Geraldine Wharry - specialist in trends and has had collaborations with top-notch international brands, such as Dior, Samsung or Victoria's Secret -, during the conference organized by APICCAPS, together with ANIVEC (National Association for the Clothing and Fabrication Industry) and AORP (Portuguese Jewelry and Watchmaking Association) and with the support of COMPETE 2020 Program.
In the conference’s opening, the Secretary of State of Economy highlighted the importance of knowing who the customers are and in which way we can – as an industry – follow their demands. To João Neves, “we shouldn’t forget consumers are in the center of the economic sector”. Through digitalization, for instances, “we can get to know better their characteristics and, therefore, compete with the absolute best”. João Neves has also challenged the several industrial sectors for an increasing collaborative approach in order to gain competitiveness in the future.

To João Maia, the great challenges – and also opportunities – for the fashion sector are the digital world and sustainability. The director general of APICCAPS believes that, “as an industry, we have an ever-changing world ahead”.

Fátima Santos, AORP’s director general, guarantees that the union among the industrial sectors can determine the success in the future. “It’s necessary to create a fashion ecosystem, through synergies between the several sectors”. In his turn, Luís Figueiredo, ANIVEC’s vice-president, drew attention for the changes that are happening in retail and for the need of rethinking the sustainability issue within the industry.

The first panel, ‘The New Generation of Customers’, gathered Geraldine Wharry and Maria Eugénia Errobidarte. The WGSN’s (World Global Style Network) senior consultant defended a future in which ecology and sustainability will be a priority for thousands of companies. According to Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, “66% of the world population will be available pay a higher amount for a product developed by a sustainable brand”. In general terms, until 2030, the business volume of sustainable products can increase to 12 trillion dollars and 380 million new jobs can be created. “If, by one hand, the generation Y, also called millennial generation or internet generation – which includes who was born from the beginning of 1980 until the end of 1990 - is willing to pay more for sustainability, by the other hand, the generation Z (the next generation) does not have the same purchasing power. However, the latter has the activity and control over the social media, where it manifests itself on a large scale”. According to Maria Eugénia Errobidarte, “the brands have to take on strong commitments” and, quoting Marie-Claire Daveu, director of the substantiality department at Kering (which holds brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Sérgio Rossi, among others), “sustainability is not an option, it’s a necessity”.

The futuristic Geraldine, by her turn, defended that the future is uncertain, as the increase in average life expectancy, and the consequent aging of the population, indicates that the future generation are the “baby boomers” (who was born between 1946 until end of 1970). As an example, “in 2024, workers with 55 years or over will represent the higher portion of the USA population”. This is called the Silver Tsunami. “We have a window of opportunity here”. By the other hand, also according to Geraldine, gender is being redefined. “There’s a greater body positivity and people with disabilities or people of different racial or ethnic origins are being increasingly represented, even in the political world”, which can be a relevant business choice for the companies.
Ana Rocha, Gonçalo Santos and Rafic Daud went on stage for the debate “Fashion in the Digital Era”. Rafic is the director of Undandy, a company where clients design their own shoes: “we all are aware that costumers are changing. Our lifestyle is not the same. Therefore, when creating a brand, we decided to approach the new consumers’ generation”. Undandy adopted the customization of its products”, which allows “the brand to now have stock or sales”. Gonçalo Santos’ theory agrees. To the founder of Platforme, customization is just the tip of the iceberg. “The industry is poorly formatted – it produces on a large scale, then doesn’t sell all the products and goes to sales, therefore loosing profitability and that devalues the brands”. To Gonçalo Santos, “the consumers of luxury products does not mind waiting. In the future, fashon will be just like the car industry: first, the client chooses; then, he pays; and only after he receives the product. We can already see this happening, for instances, in Gucci”.

Ana Rocha, by her turn, believes the companies’ biggest challenge within the digital era is adapting the human resources to the new reality. According to the London College of Fashion’s director, “nowadays, in a company, the investment in the digital universe can’t be confined in just one department. It has to be involved in the whole value chain”. To the smaller companies, “the focal point must be on knowing well and analyzing their markets, from the cultural characteristics to the main target, from optimization to the business strategy”.

Platform Portugal Exporta
In this session was also introduced the platform Portugal Exporta (Portugal Exports), the new internationalization solution from AICEP, which aims to contribute to the success of the Portuguese companies’ internationalization through the access to several features, from the matching between companies and markets, importers and partners, the display of business opportunities, as well as promotional and professional training actions.