Fashion is taking a creative turn and while head stylists still lead design teams, Paris Fashion Week is no longer what inspires their creative direction; Artificial Intelligence (AI) is.
With social commerce on the rise, social planning, social browsing, and social validation cannot be ignored. These all have an enormous impact on consumer purchase behaviour. This paradigm shift comes with its struggles, however, in particular for brands and retailers. It’s hard to predict what styles will be loved and what won’t be until, too often, it’s too late. Retailers must plan and order styles ahead of a brand-new season. Manufacturers must be notified. Shipping needs to take place. And let’s not forget that marketing and promotions need to be in motion, too. This all takes time and resources, and brands that don’t get it right could lose out on an entire season of sales. Not to mention they may struggle during the next season if they do not rebound with a solid comeback.
Generation Z has set a new tone of expectation for the fashion industry.
The shift from brick and mortar to eCommerce was a relatively simple one compared to this ‘in progress’ wave of transformation. Brands were able to mimic what took place offline, online. Though the customer experience portion was largely impacted, social commerce requires a next-level makeover to both its customer experience aspect alongside the baseline strategy.
Your shopping experience, powered by the work of algorithms
By definition, social commerce is the purchase of goods and services through social media platforms. This has become a popular method because its easy, appealing, and, most notably, powered by the work of social media algorithms.
An algorithm can perform tasks like remind you about what you were looking at and what’s still in your cart. AI, on other hand, can learn how to perform a task, suggest personalised recommendations, provide a unique shopping experience to each and every individual it encounters and predict what clothes, shoes, and accessories you’ll be interested in viewing moving forward. This is what makes an individual algorithm different than Artificial Intelligence.
AI is the combination of multiple algorithms that work together to achieve a goal. It is coded to learn to perform a task, and the learning component is integral to the process.
AI and retailers
So how does this help retailers? Retailers can use AI to predict trends that will last versus ones that are short-lived fads. It removes the guesswork, which helps retailers determine what they should concern themselves with. This is extremely important in today’s world, given that sub-sectors of fashion, like fast fashion, have become aggravators of a fast-moving trend cycle, ones we’ve never seen move more rapidly than in the 21st century.
AI also helps manufacturers and the entire fashion supply chain. Its ability to analyze trends, provide individual recommendations to each individual user, see what sticks, and then based on all this – predict what next season’s trends should look like is a miracle. And best of all, AI’s ability aligns with the value-based attributes that Generation Z is known to hold.
Why AI technology and Gen Z are a match made in heaven
It is widely known that the fashion industry, in its current form, contributes to 10% of global carbon emissions. Its footprint on our globe is big and fast fashion is only contributing to this growing problem. While things must move at a faster pace to get a handle on the situation, Gen Z’s are known for their uncanny ability to demand change and then have change follow. In other words, they are working to create change that will benefit us and the planet
Generation Z is the most ethically conscious demographic. They care about sustainability, and activities like responsible investing matter to them. They are the demographic of the future, and they know it, which gives them a lot of power.
A great example of this is how high-luxury fashion retailers like Tiffany and Louis Vuitton entered the metaverse to stay attuned to the likings of Generation Z over the course of the past year.
Where AI comes in is in its ability to help shift the fashion industry towards a more sustainable model while also allowing Generation Z to continue having a wide range of options.
AI, the glue that will hold the fashion supply chain together
If we look at the fashion supply chain, it is fragmented and disjointed and AI can bring together each segment by helping each participant understand how they can contribute collectively, for example, to an upcoming season. If AI can predict what will likely be popular in the Winter of 2025, designers, manufacturers, and retailers can all work together to select materials and textiles, their colors and fabrics, and likely get styles as close to the expectations of consumers as possible. Expectations that are predicted by AI, of course, and ones consumers didn’t know they had until the new styles ended up being released.
What this does for the supply chain and the environment is reduce dead stock. The waste that piles up every season due to unwanted styles or discrepancies in communication between supply chain participants. Transparency can revolutionize the way the industry operates. Much is being brought to light around the issues the fashion industry is facing, but AI and technology can play a big role in fixing them – and fast.
A win-win situation for retailers and consumers
Gen Z is also the first group of digital natives. Their reliance on and trust in tech is higher than any other group. AI is muti-use and multi-audience. It serves an equal amount of benefit to retailers and the supply chain as it does to consumers. Consumers are still given choice and a wide range to choose from, but now they are customized and tailored choices inspired by none other than themselves and their closest friends group.
Recent data indicates that 98% of that those that fall into Generation Z demographic own a smartphone and on average, they use them approximately 4 hours a day. The endless cycle of preferences and intel shared with the fashion industry will only help to curtail issues caused by the lack of transparency and continuous guesswork.
Generation Z expects each wave of new fashion trends to be bolder, bigger, and better. They represent ~40% of global customers and as they enter the employment market, their demands will only. The Fashion industry needs to be ready for the coming changes and can greatly benefit from the help of artificial intelligence. The industry must be ready to make investments into new technology and throw out outdated processes and methodologies. Today, AI is no longer a fantasy or a myth of the future. It is a critical player that can play a role in all aspects of the shopping experience, and the breakthrough of AI in this industry can empower retailers, manufacturers – the whole supply chain, and its consumers.
Jamil Ahmad is the co-founder and chief business officer of Fashinza, an AI-driven B2B marketplace and tech-enabled global supply chain platform for fashion brands, retailers and manufacturers. Under his leadership, Fashinza expanded globally across six countries including the United States, Canada, UAE and India.