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Consumer Trends Shaping the Designer Apparel and Footwear Industry

March 2018

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.

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World sales bounce back after a difficult 2016

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.

China dominates international expenditure, and global price disparities cement Europe as an international shopping hub

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.

It is all about experiences, personalisation and omni-channel

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.

Sportswear, leather bags and footwear offer key growth opportunities

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.


Key findings

Global Overview

Designer apparel and footwear: bouncing back after difficult 2016
Cross-border expenditure is an important driver…
…largely dominated by China
Global price disparities cement Europe as the world’s shopping hub
Millennials are becoming the core target for luxury and fashion
Affordable luxury provides first taste of luxury in emerging markets…
…and is driven by consumers’ search for value globally

Regional Perspective

Western Europe remains largest region, but Asia drives growth
Western Europe bounces back…
…but is still marked by uncertainty
Japan, South Korea and China drive growth in Asia Pacific…
…but India, Indonesia, and Malaysia are key growth markets
Headwinds for designer apparel and footwear in North America
Mixed results in Eastern Europe and Middle East and Africa
Australia and Mexico boost growth in their respective regions

Global Shifts in Consumer Behaviour and Technologies

Consumer preferences shift from ‘owning’ to ‘being’
Consumers’ shifting preferences redefine global commerce
Designer brands finally join digital party
Omnichannel distribution strategies become a must
Nothing compares to the in-store experience
It’s all about personalisation: from bespoke products…
…to unprecedented level of customer insight
VR and AR could cause major disruption in future

Opportunities by Category

Women remain the cornerstone of designerwear and footwear
Sportswear continues stretching share of wallet
More image-conscious men set to spend more on high-end fashion
The mini-me trend fuels global hype around designer childrenswear
…but demand remains concentrated in three core markets
Leather goods: A key revenue stream for designer brands…
…and a core product for affordable luxury players
Footwear: the next hottest thing?

Key Recommendations

Diversify, customise, collaborate and experiment with technologies


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