Designer apparel and footwear, like the entire luxury industry, is facing a challenging time as globally consumer preferences shift from ‘owning’ to ‘being’, and technologies reinvent the way people consume fashion and engage with brands. This may seem to pose an immediate threat for designer brands, but can also create an opportunity for them to redefine luxury around personalisation, experiences and quality, while leveraging omnichannel strategies to better engage with consumers.
Worth over US$123 billion in retail value sales, designer apparel and footwear saw 0.1% value growth in 2017, thanks to the return of foreign tourists to some terror-hit European destinations, Chinese consumers buying both abroad and at home, and strengthening demand, combined with positive currency effects in key markets such as Japan and South Korea. However the US, the world’s largest luxury goods market, remains a question mark, negatively impacted by a strong US dollar, a cull on travel flows and more profoundly by American millennials moving away from traditional luxury brands.
International expenditure on designer apparel and footwear and the luxury industry in general, is largely dominated by Chinese consumers and global price disparities cement Europe as a key shopping destination for Asian travellers. This gives international luxury brands an opportunity to maximise sales in various parts of the world, by playing on product ranges and prices.
As consumer preferences shift from ‘owning’ to ‘being’, the paradigms are shifting in terms of the way people consume fashion and engage with brands. In that context, omni-channel strategies have become a must, and brands are working on offering consumers more personalisation across channels, and will increasingly experiment with new technologies such as VR or 3D printing.
Designer brands are set to develop more sports-inspired designs to take advantage of the proliferation of athleisure, and consumers’ aspirations for healthy living. Designer brands are also expected to continue developing their range of accessories and footwear as fast-fashion-driven consumers increasingly choose luxury accessories over clothing.
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