The Impact of Technology on the Fashion Industry: A Decade of Evolution and Transformative Advancements

The Impact of Technology on the Fashion Industry: A Decade of Evolution and Transformative Advancements

Manish Kapoor, MD & CEO, Pepe Jeans London, 0

Manish Kapoor is a seasoned fashion industry leader with a career spanning over two decades. He joined Pepe in 2014 and rose through the ranks to become the CEO and Managing Director. Manish's focus shifted from brand building to making Pepe consumer-centric and digitally transformed. His data-driven approach and strategic vision have led Pepe to thrive in the ever-changing market, solidifying its position as a renowned fashion brand.

CEO Insights recently got a chance to interact with Manish, wherein he shared his insights on how technology is shaping the future of fashion. Below are the excerpts from the exclusive interview-

How has fashion embraced technology in the past decade, and which advancements have transformed the industry?
Over the past decade, technology has profoundly transformed the fashion industry. Initially, it was utilized for capturing business transactions, both B2B and B2C. However, as time progressed, fashion businesses began using technology to gain valuable insights from transactional data, aiming to enhance the consumer experience throughout the value chain. This evolution went beyond basic ERP or POS systems and extended to CRM systems, enabling better understanding and service for consumers. The focus expanded to include production processes and supplier interactions, optimizing efficiency through improved tracking and workflows. Internal consumer experiences also improved, utilizing HRMS to enhance interactions with employees. Overall, technology integration in the fashion industry has shifted from transactional recording to generating insights, improving consumer experiences, and streamlining various value chain aspects. This technological revolution continues to shape the future of fashion.

How will AR and VR experiences impact consumers' interaction with fashion products and brands in the future?
Augmented Reality (AR) enhances reality with technology, offering consumers improved experiences like virtual dressing rooms and product trials. This enables shoppers to visualize products themselves, leading to informed purchasing decisions and saving time. AR's potential lies in offering fake trials online, streamlining the shopping process. On the other hand, Virtual Reality (VR) caters to a virtual world like the Metaverse, where brands aim to engage with consumers. However, the true impact of VR on brand-consumer relationships and its economic benefits are still unclear. Brands need to experiment and find effective strategies to connect with consumers in the virtual landscape. AR presents immediate opportunities to enhance the shopping experience, while VR's potential requires further exploration to understand its true value. Establishing meaningful and authentic relationships between brands and consumers in the virtual realm is the ultimate goal.

What are the forthcoming developments within the fashion industry in terms of technology and overall industry trends?

1.Firstly, data utilization is transforming consumer interactions and relationships. Brands now understand the significance of capturing and leveraging data to offer personalized experiences, fostering stronger connections with their customers.

2.Secondly, digitization is sweeping the entire value chain, from product design to supply chain optimization, enhancing efficiency and adaptability to changing consumer demands. These key trends, sustainability, data-driven interactions, and digitization are crucial for fashion brands to remain relevant and successful in the ever-evolving market landscape.

3.The fashion industry is witnessing three major trends shaping its future. Firstly, sustainability and responsibility have become paramount as consumers worldwide are more conscious of their environmental impact. Concepts
like slow fashion and responsible fashion are gaining traction, indicating a long-lasting and evolving trend.

How has technology integrated into e-commerce reshaped customer behaviors in the fashion industry?
Fashion is evolving with the integration of technology, providing unique and appealing experiences for consumers. Visual appeal remains important, but technology, particularly virtual reality (VR), is transforming the online shopping experience. VR allows customers to visualize how garments will look on them, bridging the gap between online and offline shopping. Additionally, technology streamlines the online shopping process by enabling faster deliveries and catering to diverse locations. Personalization is another significant benefit, as online data capture enables tailored offerings based on consumers' preferences and purchase history. Unlike physical stores, online platforms consistently recommend items matching individual tastes. In summary, technology is revolutionizing the fashion industry in three ways: VR for product visualization, enhanced convenience and delivery services, and data-driven personalization. As technology advances, fashion retailers can deliver more engaging and efficient experiences to customers both online and offline.

How can blockchain address counterfeit products and labor rights violations in the fashion supply chain?
The passage underscores the significance of unique product identification and traceability in the fight against counterfeits. Manish stresses the necessity of assigning distinct serial numbers or identities to individual products, enabling easy tracking of origin and authenticity. Blockchain technology is proposed as an ideal solution for this purpose. Manufacturers can use blockchain to assign specific identities to each unit they produce, establishing legitimacy and verifying authenticity. Blockchain's traceability aspect allows companies and consumers to track the entire supply chain journey of a product, recording and validating each step from sourcing materials to production techniques.This decentralized and immutable record ensures transparency and security, making it an effective method to combat counterfeiting and build consumer trust in the authenticity of their purchases.

Concepts like slow fashion and responsible fashion are gaining traction, indicating a long-lasting and evolving trend.

What are the challenges and opportunities of 3D printing in mainstream fashion production?
3D printing offers a streamlined manufacturing process by directly converting raw materials into desired forms, minimizing waste compared to traditional garment production. However, challenges remain in preparing raw materials for 3D printing, requiring extensive processing to be compatible with the printing nozzle. Currently, 3D printing in fashion mainly involves plastics and rubber-like materials, raising concerns about wearability and comfort. This limits the commercial viability of fully printed clothing, although some footwear brands have successfully used 3D printing for certain components. To thrive, the industry must explore more wearable materials, like regenerative fiber or cotton, for 3D printing in fashion. Until then, 3D printing can be used for embellishments and accessories, but widespread adoption of fully printed garments may take time to become practical for everyday use.

What strategies can companies adopt to stay competitive in the fast fashion landscape while maintaining ethical and sustainable practices in the next 3-5 years?
In the next three to five years, the key to success for any business lies in consumer-centricity and agility. Keeping the consumer at the center and understanding their needs and wants is crucial. Whether fulfilling existing needs or creating new ones, businesses must be responsive and proactive in serving their customers. Digitization plays a significant role, allowing companies to interact with consumers and gather feedback efficiently, leading to better product development and service. Being proactive and anticipating consumer preferences instead of being reactive is vital in the current market. Whether it's sustainable products or specific fashion trends, staying consumer-focused and adapting swiftly will be essential for businesses to thrive in the future.