Fashion is a fast-growing industry with new trends being introduced every year or even within a quarter. Apparel is the largest category in fashion ecommerce with a projected revenue of $684 billion by 2025. But in such a booming industry, you’re bound to also find booming competition. Your brand needs to really establish a strong identity to stand out in a saturated market.

In this article, we will provide you with the latest insights about the fashion industry today along with eight tips fashion brands can use to adopt a bold identity.

The Fashion Industry Today

The fashion industry has changed in enormous ways, starting from the mid-19th century when clothes were hand-made by tailors. As time went by, this process has become more automated and today’s fashionable items are often mass-produced. With the rise of mobile usage and the unexpected impacts of COVID-19, ecommercehas emerged as one of the main selling channels. Let’s dive deep into each movement to see the new opportunities as well as challenges that brands should pay attention to today.

1. The fashion industry has become more competitive.

Fashion businesses are growing across sectors — from local to global brands and from retailers to wholesalers. Not to mention the rise in second-hand thrifting stores that have become more popular with sustainability- and price-minded shoppers. As there are more players in the fashion industry, customers now have more options to choose from.  

Such diverse business models have made the fashion industry more competitive. Without a doubt, innovation is needed to thrive in this fast-changing industry.

2. There has been a shift to online and mobile platforms.

When it comes to ecommerce in 2020, the fashion industry is a large B2C market segment. Due to COVID-19, many people are now avoiding shopping in-store and moving to ecommerce platforms. Scrolling through catalogs, choosing items and checking out online has become a new routine. Fashion brands are now finding ways to create an omnichannel shopping journey to gain customers on both online and offline platforms.

In addition, there has also been a strong shift to mobile platforms. According to a study by Google, 59% of shoppers stated that an option to shop on mobile is an important factor in choosing which brands they shop with. Many mobile apps have been developed to accommodate such a huge amount of potential users, such as Amazon or Shopee. Moreover, many larger businesses have also built their own native apps.

3. Customers are factoring sustainability and ethical sourcing into their purchase decisions.

Being one of the largest industries in the world, fashion faces a lot of criticism about sustainability and other ethical values. A report by UNECE shows that 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions come from the fashion industry. People have become more aware of the carbon footprint caused by clothing production and the poor working conditions in sweatshops. For these reasons, they are beginning to shop more responsibly and become pickier in choosing their favorite fashion brands.

How To Make Your Fashion Brand Stand Out?

Being flexible is important for retailers in any industry to adapt to new consumer behavior patterns. In the fashion industry, what should brands do to adjust to these transformations and stay on the cutting edge?

Clearly define target customers.

As fashion is a big industry, clearly defining your customer niche can help you to stay on the right track. You don’t want to run a clothing brand for middle-aged people, with a marketing plan that only reaches young adults.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the purpose of your brand. Is it meant to sell clothes for all age groups or just a specific subset of people? This applies to different customer groups based on their ages, genders, hobbies, etc. Determining your target helps you hone in on your unique selling point, which you can use to further make your brand stand out among others.

Keep in mind that this does not mean you must narrow down the target customers. A shop for all family members, for example, is not less competitive than other ones. In any case, brands should convey their message and principle to their targeted customers in the most effective way.

 Allow shopping on multiple channels.

As mentioned above, the shift to ecommerce is one of the most notable trends in the fashion industry. However, customers are still increasingly shopping across multiple channels from mobile to in-store to social commerce and marketplaces. These changes in shopping behavior require fashion brands to meet customers wherever they’re shopping and allow them a seamless transition across channels. The combination of offline and online stores can help expand the customer base and increase brand influence. In addition to physical stores, you can consider running your website, building a social media account or making use of online marketplaces.

B-Wear Sportswear is an example of a successful shift from offline to online. Prior to 2018, B-Wear sold exclusively out of their physical stores. By expanding to ecommerce with BigCommerce, the company saw a 162% increase in revenue and 81% increase in site traffic.

Pay attention to social responsibility.

Consumers have been more educated about the social responsibility of fashion brands. From a report by PwC, 64% of customers stated that they decide to buy or boycott a brand based on its position on a social or political issue. In the fashion industry, these social responsibilities often include sustainability, ethics and social inclusivity.

The fashion industry, especially fast fashion, has faced a lot of pollution issues. The materials required to mass-produce clothes have been widely criticized, such as waste from garments and toxic chemicals to make fabric (e.g. sodium hydroxide).

Moreover, there are also issues with cheap labor. The Oxfam 2019 report shows thatless than 1% of Bangladesh and Vietnamese garment workers were able to earn a living wage. For rapid production and competitive pricing, some fast fashion brands have been claimed to violate human rights in sweatshops, where workers have to work under poor conditions with harmful chemicals.