Is fashion going through the same changing process as music did?
Remember the last Dolce & Gabbana show on Fashion Week where they sent drones down the runway carrying handbags? The show was delayed for almost an hour thanks to that, but nevertheless, that was just a small glimpse of how fashion and technology should be working closer than ever in the future. It was also not long ago when a robot (yes, ROBOT) named Lil’ Miquela took over Instagram and became a virtual influencer that even promotes fashion brands. We are starting to get the idea of the role that Artificial Intelligence and technology as a whole are going to have in every part of our lives, including clothes. Almost two decades ago, the music industry started going through a transforming and disruptive process on which everything became digital and record labels lost their power. Now that we’re on 2018, it’s inevitable to think that fashion will be the next industry that will have to adapt to a changing process, mostly led by a technological revolution.
Now, the way fashion is seen in the world has been changing in the past few years and that’s mainly because of the internet, not technology per se. In fact, the whole business is going through an alteration where the way of selling their products and image has changed forever, and all brands are striving for a more highlighted differentiation to retain their clients. Apart from that, add to the picture that fashion brands are the ones who have to grab millennials and Generation Z’s attention so really the task of remaining relevant in the industry is a very tough one. What this process has in common with the music business is that both are industries based on culture and that is key to remember, especially if you’re a fashion brand striving for success. Marketing is important to fashion, but culture will always be more powerful. When a fashion brand has extra cash flow, the logical thing to do would be to invest in marketing campaigns, which is good and will get you a lot of customers up to a limited point. But what really matters is that what is transmitted is a culture, an experience, and quality if the brand wants to remain relevant. A millennial client will no longer buy a product if he doesn’t think that the brand has a culture that he can follow and has meaning to his lifestyle. With that said, the internet has become the main tool for any brand to transmit that culture and serve customers from an experience and product quality perspective, and that’s what the music industry has also been doing so far.
What occurred to the music industry was something that not only changed the industry itself, but also our own lifestyle. The rules were changed and it took quite a long time for record labels to stop seeing everything going digital as a threat instead of an opportunity, so leaders in the industry were definitely in denial. The same thing is happening right now in the fashion industry. It’s not quite so that fashion labels are in denial about this whole digital revolution, but instead, they’re tense about what’s coming next, so it’s difficult for them to figure out hands down how to innovate technologically. The truth is, they will not be able to go through that technological transformation process all on their own, they will need help and maybe it’s going to come from tech companies that have nothing to do with the industry. In the case of the music industry, for example, the disruption was fueled mainly by a digital tech startup called Kobalt Music, which turned around the industry for good and even lets artists keep 100% of their rights and helps them monitor what people are listening to the most by processing all our data. When it comes to fashion, it is still crazy to think about the possibility of having a jacket, shoes or even a mirror in the future that will be retaining all our data just like our smartphones and that we will be depending more on technology than ever. It might take a few tech startups (think, AI startups) to change the way the industry works for good.
Tech companies have still a long way to go to change the fashion industry from the inside in a similar way like it happened with music. The big difference to take into account between fashion and music though, is that the former will have the opportunity to innovate on ways that we are not expecting yet and the way on how brands will do it will require a high dose of creative minds into it. The experience that fashion labels give to their evolving customers couldn’t be more important and that will be a crucial link that fashion will have with technology and innovation. Finally, maybe the fashion industry will not go through such a disruptive process like it happened with music, but it will surely mean another change to our lifestyle.