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The Pulse of Fashion 2018

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

11 May 2018

From lightning speed fashion to sustainability to a more inclusive industry, these are just some of the movements in today’s fashion currents.

A new report by The Boston Consulting Group and Global Fashion Agenda has given brands and companies great insight into the “Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018.”

A key finding is sustainability, with brands, retailers and all those in between embracing new ways to improve environmental and social performance. However with increased customer demand the stresses on the environment becoming greater. With rapid changes in consumer behaviour and evolving technologies the industry is constantly being challenged and is forced to adapt.

The pace of change isn’t far-reaching or fast enough

According to the report to put fashion on a path to long-term prosperity financially, socially, and environmentally, the level of change needed will require more than individual companies realizing just incremental improvements.

What is needed is active collaboration and a clear commitment by the industry’s leaders to prioritize a responsible long-term strategy, despite the pressure of quarterly results.

This year’s report aims to give guidance to companies looking to start or find further advances toward more responsible ways of doing business, by sharing proven best practices and defining bigger and bolder steps the industry must take. Taking action not only improves the social and environmental performance of the industry, but results in a strong business case – raising the EBIT margin by 1 to 2 percentage points.

Building on the Pulse Score, BCG and GFA worked with leading fashion players to develop two important frameworks offering guidance and inspiration. The first, the Pulse Curve, enables companies to compare their actions and performance against other industry players and evaluate their progress over time. The second, the Roadmap to Scale, is an inspiring guide that offers concrete actions companies can take to prioritize and plan sustainability efforts.

In the past year, the Pulse Score of the fashion industry improved from 32 to 38 (out of 100). The Pulse Survey, representing all industry segments, confirms that the topic is rising on the industry’s agenda. Of the executives polled, 52 percent reported that sustainability targets acted as a guiding principle for nearly every strategic decision they made – an increase of 18 percentage points from last year.

What is the future outlook for fashion?

The future of fashion might look dramatically different from today. Innovation may fully disrupt how clothes are made and consumed. Global trends and forces will shape consumer behaviors – and the role of brands and retailers – in unpredictable ways.

Instant fashion

Consumers order and receive the apparel they want, when they want it and how they want it, using technologies such as 3D printing and other on-demand production that hap- pens at the point of sale. The environmental footprint of such a production system is reduced, and the ability to meet consumer demand is heightened.

Fashion as a service

The sharing economy comes to fashion to better promote reuse. In the same way that customers subscribe to software as a service (SaaS) rather than buying it outright, consumers in effect rent clothing. An industry’s environmental footprint is significantly reduced by the lowered need for manufacturing in quantity.

Smart fashion

Apparel becomes electronically enabled to instantly adjust to the wearer’s preferences instantly. Smart fibers allow garments to alter colors, for example, improving environ- mental impact by reducing need for multiple versions of the same item.

Note to reader: This is an except of the Boston Consulting Group and Global Fashion Agenda “Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018” report’s executive summary. The full report can be found at www.globalfashionagenda.com.

Photo credit: BCG and GFA Pulse of the Fashion Industry report