Suntec, Singapore
24th - 25th October 2018

As millennials dictate brands with their digital and tech-­savvy acquired tastes, the adjectives ‘personal’ and ‘real’ have never been more important for brands interacting with this highly connected (and controversial in places) audience. The millennial consumer, empowered with technology, wealth, 24/7 connectivity and feedback tools place ‘personal everything’ at the top of their priorities. Technology and social media have totally changed brand expectations from product to communication, as well as relationships millennials create with brands. As a result, all of these changes, have blurred the boundaries between online and offline, brand, lifestyle and community.

1. Product personalisation
Co-­creation and contribution to the design or DIY production process is one of the key trends in fashion, which we will see for years to come. Excessive stock, wastage and fast fashion business models in an age where the consumer has so much access to information, have led to the emergence of a variety of game changing and sustainable brands. The rise of accessible technology personalisation, instant access and production will definitely form a more sustainable fashion future that consumers will vote for.
“The future of fashion is unique. Prior to the industrial revolution everything was made with somebody in mind, however in the era of mass production we lost that link. “Why are my trousers too long? Do you have this in another colour? Can I have it without that detail?” These are all reasonable questions made unreasonable by a production system that promotes sameness.” Hal Watts – Co-­Founder of Knyttan

Iconic brands such as Burberry and innovative start-­ups such as Wool and the Gang and Knyttan, are all thriving to give the millennial consumer what they want through the power of individuality and self expression. For example, the monogrammed poncho from Burberry became one of their ‘hits’ last year. The digitally savvy brand has continued the trend with the recent launch of the ‘scarf bar’, which allows for personalised cover-­ups.
Wool and the Gang launched in 2013 and provide their customers with an entertaining and fashionably fresh way of looking at knitwear and knitting itself. The brand sells DIY knitwear kits as well as ready to wear products all designed by LCF graduates, with impressive high fashion backgrounds. Innovative new brand Knyttan is using technology which literally turns industrial knitting machines into something more akin to 3D printers allowing for ‘print’ knitwear on-demand.
“We believe that if you make what people want they will love it more and keep it for longer. This is a simple thing to say, but hard to achieve. Our solution is to use digital manufacturing in a new way that helps designers doing what only they can do -­ design great clothes -­ but for the first time involve the customer in the creative process so that we make unique garments at an industrial scale that have a home.” Hal Watts – Co-­Founder of Knyttan

It is not only the personalised and unique product that attract millennials to such brands, it is the authentic and personal relationships it creates as a result, which is equally as important. Mtailor is another example using technology empowered product customisation in menswear. The first time users design a shirt they’d like to purchase, the Mtailor app sizes them up using the front-facing camera on their iPhone or iPad.
2. Personal brand relationships and the untouchable new breed of celebrity
Consumer and brand relationships are being redefined in a slightly less than revolutionary way with the rise, popularity and importance of YouTube stars, digital media as well as new social media platforms such as Snapchat. The reach and scale of these new platforms and personalities is extremely powerful and the relationships nurtured with fans, consumers and readers are much more direct, personal and authentic.

Tanya Burr has taken YouTube by storm with her make-­up and style tutorials averaging 10m views per month. Snapchat’s main audience is millennials with 100 million active daily users, 65% of whom send snaps every day. The company is heading for an over USD 10b IPO shortly. That is why everyone from Louis Vuitton to Burberry, to nearly every fashion editor and street style influencer, has recently joined Snapchat to extend their reach to a new generation of young, luxury-­hungry consumers and loyal fans.
Authenticity and relevance of content of this new breed of celebrity creators combined with the number of available distribution channels and the size of the possible online audience reach, is astonishing. Thus Clinique has recently launched their #FaceForward campaign, to prove achievement matters more than appearance. The company has chosen a group of incredibly successful young entrepreneurs in the hopes of inspiring young women everywhere to never give up on their ambitions. #FaceForward is the brand’s first all-­digital campaign where all of its stars are influencers or bloggers rather than models, making it more about relevant, accessible content created by ‘real’ people.

There are some basics we know already. Social networks are an extraordinarily important part of millennials’ digital lives and 67% of millennials connect with brands on social media (Carlos Monteiro Infographic). However, it is the speed with which the next generation manages to learn and navigate through new social media platforms, and the fact that the next generation’s role models are growing up digitally which should matter most to brands. The ease and the speed with which young consumers are navigating through the digital world full of new technology is astonishing, and is in itself a big challenge and opportunity not only for fashion brands but to consumer companies, brands and start ups in general.

This year alone we have seen a number of big and well-­known retailers struggling with innovating and reinventing themselves to attract and remain relevant in a digital age. Quicksilver recently filed for bankruptcy and Abercrombie & Fitch continues to struggle with their sales. Understanding the next generation of consumer and ability to race in a millennial driven marketplace, has never been so time sensitive as now. Millennials are the first digital generation of the 21st century and the one setting the pace for the digital savvy generations to come.

3. Multi-­channel and all-­dimensional retail
We have entered an era of multi-­channel and all-­dimensional retail, where next generation shoppers demand the same experience no matter which device they are interacting with or brand experience they are part of (whether its in-­store, pop up or online). Some retailers are already working on the solutions to bring their “online” experience “offline” and this is where personalisation, big data and all dimension millennial customer experiences all come together.

The use of tactics such as knowledgeable sales staff, in-­store pick-­up for online orders, in-­store WiFi, and smartphone discounts that nudge shoppers to buy in-­store is just the beginning for those brands and retailers racing to win in a digital age.
In the last few years we have seen Farfetch buying Browns, Boticca merging with Wolf and Badger, as well as a number of e-­commerce online brands, moving from online to offline (Nasty Gal, Warby Parker, and Bonobos).

The role of the store has changed especially the relationship between the store and the consumer, making it much more about overall experience, entertainment and personalisation rather then just about product discovery. Last year, Burberry opened their new London flagship store in Regent Street. The store takes concepts from website user-­experience design and applies them to a real-­ world retail space. Retailers need to marry “localisation” with “personalisation” to get the best results and adapt to the next generation of consumers. Big data, in-­store analytics and use of relevant technology is key to maximising this great opportunity that has risen. In the same way that we profile and service our online customer in a much more targeted and personal way by tailoring advertising (among others things) and making suggestions based on their shopping and browsing history, giving instant access to a variety of professional as well as friend’s feedback, the sales dynamics and in-­store relationships have to evolve to keep pace.
In Burberry’s regent street flagship store assistants walk around with iPads, taking orders and enquiries on the spot, eliminating the need for lugging products to a till and waiting in line. The use of RFID (radio-­frequency identification) technology to bring product information to customers in an elegant, innovative way is probably the most remarkable though. A chip hidden inside each product triggers RFID-­enabled mirrors on the shop floor and in changing rooms to transform into digital screens, displaying information about craft and detail that cannot easily be communicated in a traditional store environment, but that is fundamental to a brand.
Shoppers visiting the new Rebecca Minkoff store in Soho are greeted by a touch-­ screen wall that displays products, makes suggestions and takes orders for a free beverage of your choice ranging from sparkling water, green tea, coffee, espresso or Champagne. Virtual reality in retail is another sector, which is buzzing, it is estimated that VR headsets will grow at a swift 99% compound annual growth rate between 2015 and 2020.

“Retailers have been putting huge efforts in trying to address the gap between the online and off-­line shopping experience, however, these efforts have largely been focused on taking elements of the online experience and bringing them in-­store, such as fixed iPad or notebook terminals and click & collect. Less is being done around taking the in-­store benefits into the online world, where the addressable audience is substantially higher and not limited to proximity of the nearest physical store”, said Aman Khurana, GoInStore Co-­Founder.

We vote for a unique and relevant fashion future.


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