Today, many parts of the world are in the middle of a recession, with consumer price inflation across Asia Pacific averaging 3.6 % in 2022 according to Global Data. Consumer behaviour is already starting to change due to price increases across all customer segment groups, so industry leaders should assume all households will be extra careful in their spending and opting for cheaper and longer-lasting products in 2023. 

To address this growing concern, businesses should ensure they are leveraging integrated planning strategies with product lifecycle management (PLM) approaches to build more valuable and durable products.

Sustainability in fashion and retail

Designing products that are sustainable and compliant

In a recent McKinsey survey, 67% of consumers surveyed consider the use of sustainable materials to be an important purchasing factor. In 2023, we are likely to see fashion brands sourcing more sustainable materials, like Mylo and Piñatex, and providing true transparency into their extended supply chain. Additionally, the materials, processes, and production techniques of new collections will be better measured and designed to have lower environmental impact scores.

In addition, with continued supply chain disruption globally, many fashion and retail brands are rethinking their supply chains. Many organisations are balancing local supply with global supply to ensure they are not as exposed. This can also reduce the ESG exposure and risk. 

Fashion brands to offer services to extend a product’s lifecycle

Unfortunately, many products created by the fashion industry end up in a landfill at the end of their life cycle. Sometimes, a product may be thrown out prematurely because of a rip or stain. Fashion brands will begin considering ways to extend the lifecycle and offer services around existing products in 2023. One way could be to offer repair, rental, resell, and recycling services rather than taking more products to market. Integrating with resell platforms can help leftover stock get sold rather than wasted, and extended services for products after sale can help extend the lifetime of an item.

Practical designs for real-life applications and solutions

The pandemic changed how many people dress, from those who moved to working remotely, to the healthcare workers who care for others in hospitals. Some employees dress more casually and comfortably than before, and others opt for shoes that are easily cleaned and sanitised to avoid tracking germs between work and home. Over the pandemic, Crocs has donated more than 800,000 pairs of shoes to healthcare workers around the world. The materials used in Crocs are intentionally easy to wash and give these essential workers some peace of mind. Designing products to be easily altered and maintained will allow fashion brands to provide real-life solutions and promote sustainability in 2023.

Balancing physical and virtual fashion designs/the future of formalwear/fashion in the Metaverse

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how many of us dress. For example, some have moved to working remotely and now own more loungewear than business attire. Some believe high fashion will only exist in the metaverse one day. Fashion brands such as Nike, Gucci and Ralph Lauren have embraced the metaverse from designing garments for gaming to participating in virtual fashion shows in recent years. People have used fashion to help establish their identities for decades and of course the advancement of digital and social channels has helped drive the massive growth of fashion globally over the past 20 years. Fashion in a virtual, digital world (aka Metaverse) will be exactly the same. I.e., “This is who I am, and my lifestyle is aligned to these brands and these values.” The huge upside is less reliance on pure physical goods thus helping achieve our own personal ethical and sustainability values.

Technology and automation to empower smaller fashion brands

Fashion brands usually never rely on products alone, but in recent years have shifted more focus on creating enriching brand experiences for customers to enjoy and share on social media. Jimmy Choo, for example, is making headlines for opening a hot pink café in Harrods. Experiences like this attract influencers and consumers who may not otherwise interact with the brand. However, not all fashion brands have the bandwidth to explore these creative options.

Smaller brands don’t necessarily have large teams to have a specialist for everything. Often, one person will wear many hats and cover many roles, so creating out-of-the-box customer experiences may be beyond their capabilities. In 2023 and the years to come, these smaller teams will likely adopt more technology to automate some processes and free up talent to create these brand experiences and focus on more specialised roles. In doing so, brands will be able to focus more on providing memorable and unique customers to ultimately increase exposure and stand out amongst the competition.

Jarrod Kinchington is vice president and managing director for Australia & New Zealand at Infor.