The world that digital transformation is providing for the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) is a wide array of opportunities, with prospects at every corner. The global fashion industry is another subsector of the CCIs that has experienced the advancement and changes that digital technology and innovation afford.
Fashion is a large part of local culture and is in many ways a pillar in our creative expression. The British Council in collaboration with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) produced a report called Mapping of Jamaica’s Cultural and Creative Industries. The report described Jamaica’s fashion industry as “a vibrant and distinctive fashion industry, with its creators drawing upon all elements of the island’s social, cultural, and natural inspiration.”
Fashion in the Digital World
There are dozens of ways that the world of digital technology can be leveraged by the fashion industry. Technology has aided this industry by creating equipment that make the production process easier and more precise. Digitalisation has also changed the consumer experience with being able to purchase online, with specificity to size and fit for consumers.
There is a new and interesting world that digital technology is crafting for the fashion industry. Many are looking on with intrigue from afar while there are those who have jumped headfirst into the newness. According to Forbes, “Fashion brands will leverage technology like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to allow consumers to “try on” items digitally from the comfort of their own homes. Major retailers like Adidas, Macy’s and Modcloth are adopting virtual dressing rooms and bringing the technology mainstream. Using AR to virtually try on items helps consumers stay more confident in their purchases and reduces return rates by 36%.” There is also space for fashion designers in the metaverse to craft digital outfits for avatars as this alternative universe evolves and expands.
Shopping online has become a big phenomenon especially during the pandemic and many local entrepreneurs capitalised on carrying their businesses online. Future trends dictate an even more interesting digital experience. Local fashion designers can explore the opportunities for digital sizing and shopping for their clients. According to Forbes, “The most successful fashion brands of the future won’t just make their clothing available online—they will also create an immersive digital shopping experience with things like virtual fit or sizing tools.”
Considerations for the Future of Fashion
The fashion industry is considered to be one of the largest contributors to waste, and so as the world becomes more aware of the effects our habits on the environment, the issue of sustainable fashion is necessary. There has been an upsurge in online purchasing for a while from mass production companies, but interestingly there is a noted decline globally in these types of habits.
Forbes records in a 2020 article titled The Fashion Industry is Ready for a Makeover that there is a fortunate shift in the industry where people are becoming less interested in fast fashion and are now moving toward slower-paced fashion. The article noted that “Nearly 50% of fast fashion retailers have reported a recent decrease in customer purchases as consumers look for brands that take a stand for the environment.” Jamaican entrepreneurs known for custom designs can capitalise on the opportunity that this environment is creating, for their slow -fashion, bespoke items to dominate the fashion industry.
Another notable consideration for the future of fashion and technology is how much technology can be used to inform data on consumers and their behaviour. Senior Contributor for Forbes Magazine, Blake Morgan said “The benefits of using data in fashion are numerous: from only producing pieces consumers will actually wear to reducing waste and connecting the right consumers with pieces they will enjoy. Data also helps brands run more efficiently, giving them room to innovate and balance supply and demand.”
Deloitte mentioned in a 2018 article called Digital Transformation – The Ultimate Challenge for the Fashion Industry that digital clienteling is another perk of the digital age in the fashion industry. Deloitte says “Digital clienteling (including leading-edge processes, analytics, technological developments in Digital Marketing, Commerce and Sales & Service platforms) is delivering a personalised customer experience across multiple channels – and ultimately improving conversion rates and revenues”.
In a recent JBDC ‘In Concert’ forum held by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Mrs. Laura Lee-Jones pointed out, “The future generation in fashion must know that technology is going to become even more integrated into what we do and any student that is coming in now has to understand that it is not just creativity and passion that is going to set them apart but they have to consider how technology is going to help them build their brand.”
Entrepreneurs within this field are at an interesting point in history, where there are opportunities galore to scale up their businesses using technology and the digital world. The JBDC supports the development of the fashion industry through its Incubator & Resource Centre located at 76A Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston. Fashion and Product Development experts provide a range of services to designers. The location also houses a fashion incubator which is currently being renovated to provide a more modern space in which designers can create masterpieces read for the global stage. To learn more, visit the JBDC’s website at www.jbdc.net.