Lack of customer activity is increasing brands’ dependence on fashion forecasters who are guiding them to navigate the ongoing crisis. Firms like WGSN and Stylus are holding in-depth video meetings with clients to advise them on what the post-COVID-19 world might look like.
These forecasters are not just providing seasonal trend analysis but also guiding brands on surviving the current morass. They reveal that fashion firms are keen to know more about the consumer response in more open economies like China and hear predictions about how people will behave after lockdowns end.
However, macro trends like a consumer call for sustainability or a move away from seasonality have not drastically changed in light of Covid-19. On the contrary, they are accelerating at a faster than anticipated pace, in effect putting trend forecasters into a more pivotal role.
Reliance on trade shows and fashion events
According to Carla Buzasi, Managing Director, WGSN, fashion firms are now looking at forecasters as one of the main forms of data on the market. To cater to increasing demands, forecasters are speaking to their clients and sending them information much more regularly. Stylus is running webinars with live Q&A sessions to its subscriber base. These webinar are included within current subscription models as raising prices or cashing in on the situation would play badly with clients.
Heuritech, which switched from monthly to weekly updates at no extra cost, is helping clients with short-term inventory movement rather than long-term planning that was the norm before.
Forecasters rely on trade shows and fashion weeks to know the direction designers are heading and gauge the reaction of social media influencers to emerging trends. However, as many of these events have been postponed or cancelled, firms like WGSN are reaching out to keynote speakers and exhibitors to find out future plan of action. Similarly, Stylus is prioritizing a number of cross-sector reports on subjects like: homeware, sleep, sex, hygiene and personal care.
Line of predictions
Market analysts firm Bain & Co predicts a revival of China’s luxury market with the country is likely to grab an even greater share of the luxe market at a much faster rate than anticipated, as Western economies go through sluggish recoveries. However, another trend forecaster and consultant Geraldine Wharry cautions against making any rash predictions about how the industry is likely to look when lockdowns and social-distancing measures end.
Many forecasters agree Covid-19 outbreak could force many brands to reevaluate their business models. Some of these brands may also have to change their mode of operations in order to survive. Emily Gordon-Smith, Director, consumer product at Stylus, anticipates a move to more trendless and seasonless approaches by fashion brands, with collections driven by individual vision of the brand rather than one tapping into shifting seasonal trends. According to her, clients are showing interest in these types of collections right now and evolving their own brand identity into something that's stronger and more individual.
Brands embracing the principle of design with purpose are also gaining more popularity than those more tied into the traditional fashion calendar. This benefits everyone from consumer, brands’ to the planet, Buzasi notes.