Despite the years-long, steady upward march of e-commerce, traditional brands selling luxury fashion products have been slow to invest heavily in online sales. After all, for shoppers considering spending a thousand dollars or more for an item, a shopping experience in luxurious stores is likely more persuasive than viewing digital images on a screen. But COVID-19 has pushed some brands to change because of store closings and consumers staying close to home. Quartz reports that brands have seen online sales grow, among them Prada, Gucci, Saint Laurent, and the world’s largest luxury group, LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton and Dior. Larger digital investments are ahead.
Online portal launching to help U.S. fashion designers
U.S. fashion designers are getting a digital helping hand. The non-profit Council of Fashion Designers of America has developed an online portal that will help designers manage, publicize, and sell their collections. Called RUNWAY360, the portal will support a range of technology tools to promote their creations, including augmented and virtual reality, 360-degree product views, live video streams, e-commerce, and virtual press conferences. Anyone worldwide — for example, shoppers, retailers, and media — will have access. The portal is scheduled to go live for New York Fashion Week, scheduled Sept. 14-16. FashionUnited has more details.
Scientists trying to grow colorful cotton to eliminate toxic dyes
Imagine driving past a cotton field and seeing not the white fluffy balls atop acres of plants but a rainbow of colors, colors that will become the clothes you wear. If Australian scientists are successful, toxic dyes won’t be needed to color cotton fabric, eliminating a source of pollution that has long plagued the industry. They’ve already grown colorful, genetically modified cotton tissues in petri dishes, according to Fast Company. Next step: grow the tissues into flowering plants. Red, gold, and purple cotton tissues have been bred in the lab, as well as black. It’s black dyes that are the most polluting. A key threshold ahead is whether the lab work can produce viable seeds.
Apparel retailers turn to curbside pickup to increase sales
Apparel retail stores, battling to regain business during the pandemic, increasingly are luring shoppers with curbside pickup for online orders. Store chains are leading the way. The appeal for shoppers is avoiding shipping costs and the ability to get items sooner, all while not risking their health. Digital Commerce 360, which compiles competitive e-commerce and other data, surveyed companies on its list of 250 top apparel retailers and found that 34.1% offered pickup service in June. That compares to 1.6% in January. Shoe retailer DSW, which operates 650 stores, reported that curbside pickup as a percent of sales is growing daily. But will the service continue after the pandemic?
How is recovering China faring as other countries struggle
What happens in China is hard to ignore if you’re in the apparel and footwear industry, no matter your country. This is especially true today given the pandemic’s pendulum swing in China, from draconian quarantines, business shutdowns, and supply chain disruptions to recovery still underway. The ripple effects are still felt there and around the world. That said, how is China emerging from the pandemic? Is it a harbinger for other countries like the U.S. still beset with dire outbreaks? How are these problems outside China still affecting the industry there? FashionUnited’s Q&A with the head of the China National Garment Association, Chen Dapeng, offers a broad assessment.
Technology challenge: 3D fashion and lack of interoperability
Writing for a leading online industry magazine, Embodee has examined a key issue facing the fashion industry as its embrace of digitization technologies tightens. The issue is interoperability, or lack thereof, for 3D design and the display of virtual products. As technology innovations are unveiled to solve problems and improve operations, it’s not unusual for new problems to emerge in their wake. That’s the case with the development of 3D design tools for apparel and footwear, a watershed development. But, as we wrote for WhichPLM, unfortunately not all stakeholders can use the 3D visual elements to their fullest potential, yet. Learn more, including our solution.