How to Understand Fashiontech and the $2.4 Trillion Fashion Industry

August 8, 2017

9:20 am

Whenever an entire industry gets disrupted by 21st century technology, the tech gets a vague and all-encompassing title. We already saw “fintech” for the financial sector. Now, as the fashion world figures out how to handle new tech, we have fashiontech.

So what does fashiontech mean? Is it even possible to break down such a vast industry? After all, the latest prediction puts the fashion world on track to $2.4 trillion worldwide this year, after rising 3.5 percent over the previous year.

The Industry Is In Flux

The way people buy clothes and invest in fashion trends is shifting: It’s getting faster, thanks to the rapid turnover inherent to the internet world, and fashion providers are becoming more responsive as a result. Some platforms are moving into the fashiontech world and leveraging their data by adding some form of “buy” buttons to popular posts. Instagram is a natural fit, as is Pinterest. Here’s how I explained Pinterest’s rock-solid ecommerce future in a post last year:

“With these three new Pinterest features — visual search, a shopping cart, and branded pages — the social network is encouraging an uptick in natural searches for products while offering a way for users to buy the things they already want. Connecting people who want to buy stuff with the stuff they want to buy is pretty unbeatable as an e-commerce model.”

Meanwhile, Amazon is once again proving that it can easily get into any sector it wants with a clever new fashion-focused selling model:

“The service — called Prime Wardrobe — lets customers pick from more than a million products across men’s and women’s fashion, as well as baby clothing. Shoppers have to order at least three items on the low end, but can order up to 15 pieces in a box. Keep three or four items, and customers save 10 percent. Keep five or more and the discount increases to 20 percent,” Recode explained last month.

But the biggest changes don’t need to be limited to massive companies. Here’s how a startup model can fit in with the industry.

The 3 Categories of Fashiontech

TechCo contributor Lisa Morales-Hellebo has written a white paper on the emerging fashiontech investment landscape. There, she breaks down the fashiontech that matters into three main categories: data, supply chain, and future commerce.

“Data” refers to tech that allows the industry to better understand and track its customers’ whims. Companies in the fashiontech data arena might be in-store or online, and might offer personalization to customers or to retailers.

Meanwhile, those in supply chain help to streamline the design, production, and distribution of the items themselves, and those in the future of commerce innovate and experiment with entirely new ways to connect with audiences. A few fashion sectors of the future include new data-powered markets like wearables and smart clothing. Taken together, these three areas of interest light the path that an entrepreneur should take to succeed in the world of fashiontech.

Go B2B

In fasion, B2C businesses have a tough time earning the recognition from the public that they need in order to thrive. But a B2B startup, focused in one of the three main categories of fashiontech, can rapidly grow. Why? Because fashion companies can read the writing on the wall and know they’ll need to evolve with their industry. They know the three categories above, even if the typical consumer doesn’t. As Morales-Hellebo puts it:

Mature industries never get the opportunity to reorganize from scratch, but this might be fashion’s best chance. Fashion’s digital renaissance, as it may come to be known, is being built before our eyes, and we have a unique opportunity to re-engineer how all its components fit together in a way that avoids future painful retrofitting (saving us all time, energy, brain power, and money).

It’s a good time to be in fashiontech. Whether you’re a B2B entrepreneur or an investor looking into the fashiontech market, knowing the three key pillars of fashion disruption will open the world of fashiontech up to you.

Read more about fashion tech and trends at TechCo

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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