What does the Future hold for the Fashion Industry?
Just a decade ago trade shows were a fashion industry mainstay. They allowed retailers to hunt out the next season’s must-have products while offering a cost-effective platform for brands to showcase their latest ranges. But fast forward to 2020 and things have changed dramatically. Retailers no longer have to jet off to Las Vegas, London or Paris to discover the next big thing for their stores. No, as technology continues to evolve the fashion landscape, expos and physical showrooms are becoming less essential for many within the industry.
In a recent in-depth report on the global fashion industry co-published by Business of Fashion, more than half of the brand and multi-brand retailer respondents said trade shows had little or no relevance to placing orders. And while no concrete data has been published on trade show attendance on a global scale, expos are visibly reaching a plateau as buyers and retailers reconsider how to connect with each other.
A huge challenge facing retailers is finding time to travel. With stretched budgets and streamlined buying teams, it is becoming problematic to take even a few days away from the shop floor. Whether you’re a visitor or exhibiting brand, taking part in a fashion expo is an expensive business cost for everyone involved. And this is especially true when you factor in the turbulent global economy.
Then there’s the environmental impact of visiting expos to consider. As consumers become increasingly motivated by brands that focus on sustainability, retailers are considering how they can reduce their own carbon footprint by minimising buying trips.
The industry is also witnessing significant effects following the recent outbreak of coronavirus. Several trade shows have already been forced to reschedule this year, including Hong Kong Fashion Week and Berlin’s Asia Apparel Expo. Meanwhile, in the UK, unprecedented winter storms caused travel chaos for buyers making their way to major trade shows recently, forcing many to completely abandon their buying trip.
So, how is the industry going to make it easier for buyers and brands? Digitalisation of the wholesale model is already offering a much-needed alternative to fashion expos. Thanks to a new wave of B2B marketplaces such as TradeGala, it is now possible for buyers to hunt out new products from the comfort their smartphones.
While social media can help retailers discover small independent brands online, TradeGala allows buyers to browse entire collections and place orders. Infinitely easier than visiting a physical trade show or show room, the site enables fashion buyers to virtually source global labels in one convenient place.
Ordering through TradeGala’s site means buyers can reduce travelling time and business expenses. With a simple order process, retailers can make product selections with just a few clicks, eliminating the need for complicated line sheets. Buyers can refine their search using the site’s in-built filters to find particular colourways, styles or prices. Each product also has its own detailed page with professional photographs and in-depth information. And because TradeGala is in operation 24/7, retailers can research and choose products whenever it suits them - from any time zone.
TradeGala also offers centralised customer service and payment protection so buyers can feel confident that they’re in safe hands. If they decide the order isn’t for them for any reason, buyers can contact brands directly to arrange a return and refund, minimising any risk with buying online.
For brands, TradeGala offers greater visibility and access to new international markets and the latest technologies with minimal commitment. Smaller, independent brands are able to take their first steps into the wholesale market, which may have previously seemed too daunting.
Just as e-commerce will never fully replace bricks-and-mortar retail, the tactile nature of fashion means that online marketplaces will probably never be completely absorbed by digital. However, as buying budgets are squeezed and travelling becomes increasingly difficult for retailers, TradeGala offers a real alternative for sourcing next season’s best sellers.
Written by: Gemma Ward