Future of Fashion

Illustrated by Jacqueline Davis Moranti

The fashion retail industry is always adapting to suit customer needs and preferences. Often, the changes are subtle and can even be difficult to notice. Sometimes they’re not even made with specific goals in mind, but rather just to keep things from getting stagnant. But in the next several years we’re going to see some more dramatic and intentional shifts in how stores operate both in person and online. This is largely because of some tantalizing advances in tech, and overall it is quite exciting to look ahead at. Here are some of the changes to look out for in the coming next five years—if not the next year or two....

Tech & Fashion Brands Will Blend
This has already happened to an extent, most notably through the introduction of smart accessories. But right now there’s mostly a divide between fashion products and tech companies’ versions of fashion products. However, technological accessories may not be as isolated from the fashion world as you may think. In the lead up to the Apple Watch, Apple hired Burberry’s CEO, and also made sure to put the new device in front of Anna Wintour. There’s mutual interest between fashion and tech companies, and we’re likely to see more partnerships, whether through design behind the scenes or through hybrid products in stores.

We’ll Try On Clothes Virtually
Virtual and augmented reality aren’t just about putting us into fantasy worlds. We’ve already seen VR concepts like live casinos offering the atmosphere of a physical casino to players playing games at home, and we’ve also seen AR used to project simple games onto table surfaces. Sometimes it’s about bringing an environment into your home rather than stepping into another world. And the fashion industry is going to make use of this. We’ll soon be able to use VR and AR concepts to see what we’d look like in outfits, both in stores to save time and at home for maximum convenience.

Visual Search Will Dominate Online
When we search for clothing right now, we’re primarily doing it through a few basic means like following links to collections, Googling specific products, or collections. But it’s not always easy to track down an outfit that you see and love if it’s not explicitly labeled. This is probably going to change, as we’re already seeing visual searches improving significantly. Online fashion retail is going to get a boost when we’re able to highlight an image and find the article of clothing in it (or the closest thing to it). I've had many moments when I've asked someone what they're wearing and this will make it less awkward!

Stores Will Get Smarter
This could mean a lot of different things, but a writer at The Guardian might have put it best by saying that physical stores will become more closely synced with shoppers’ smartphones. As for what that means specifically, it’s largely about stores doing all they can do imitate the convenience of online shopping. Devices called Bluetooth beacons can notice shoppers’ smartphones and ping them with anything from assistance finding a product to special coupon offers. In short, stores are going to be more interactive, for the sake of the shopper’s convenience and enjoyment.

All in all, shopping is going to go through a major revamp in the near future. Shopping in person lately has been in a slump and technology seems to be proving that retail isn't dead. I'm really excited to see how the future of retail holds up to online shopping because as a former retail employee I can appreciate the pros and the cons of shopping in store versus online. Dear readers, how do you feel about the future of retail?

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Thanks for the sweet whispers! XO