Kate Crossey from Debenhams’s took over the ASOS GFW Talk Space today with a wonderful “exploration of the consumer trend of comfort”, reflecting the changing scope of fashion. Except this inspiring talk became much more than a trend report. The audience was guided through the cycle of fashion, taking a look at what we’re achieving now and what tomorrow will look like for the digital era. Crossey started the cycle with the issue of brand values, stating that, “A brand purpose is a short cut for an emotional relationship, what matters is that you care about something they care about”. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy what you believe”, for example Gucci, who managed to rejuvenate their brand whilst loyally sticking to their ancient heritage. This statement particularly resonates during this time of mass production, when everyone is a photographer due to Instagram and everyone is a political writer due to Facebook. It is a time to fight against the cult of sameness and channel the creativity that consumers and influencers alike are looking for.
Consumers have now expanded to a new level; they “expect the world”. It has become the brand’s responsibility to create innovative platforms to engage with a generation that lives beyond the confines of their bedroom as a citizen of the world. As Crossey confirms, “Social Media is a fundamental force in guiding fashion”, as the consumers now has a say in the direction of the brand and it’s product, something that has become a defining influence of 2016. It is necessary to constantly reassess your process, as Christine Boland states “fashion and design is changing.. New is no longer the Holy Grail, relevance is”. Global climate has taken a turn for the unknown, changing our traditional phasing for buy now wear now fashion. Trends such as athleisure of prevailed as one of the biggest selling clothing trends of 2016, with new lines such as Ivy Park catapulting Topshop in a constantly evolving direction.
Which brings us back to comfort. Are you comfortable after that dalliance into the digital era? It wasn’t a red herring. Consumers are now looking for comfort as well as aesthetic, which has led to PJs and active wear taking over the catwalks from high street to high fashion. Pushed from the climate of political unrest, both in fashion and across the globe, the casualization of high fashion is a trend that has truly caused a stir from all areas of the fashion industry. As Levis commented, “ If casualization is what everyone’s looking for we can push innovation”. So what do we expect next? Instantaneous fashion, seasonless collections, bio textiles and global live streaming is pushing boundaries that are sure to shock the fashion industry into productive change. In this time of excitement and uncertainty it is important to remember our own roles in creative development. In the words of Andre Leon Talley, “Googling is not enough, we have to explore it!”.