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The Urgency of Digitalisation: Provoking Positive Change

For the first time in living memory, the world around us is facing global shut down. Though different governments, communities and companies are dealing with COVID-19 in their own way, it is clear that no matter where we are in the world, we’re in this together. In this uniquely unfamiliar climate, companies are being forced to find new ways to operate daily, sustain business and continue growth – and it needs to happen fast. Social distancing and public lockdown are driving companies towards digitalisation. Fashion brands must now work quickly to find digital solutions tailored to their specific needs. As productivity in the fashion industry is feared to decrease, due to retailers closing their stores, buyers skeptical to purchase stock and factories struggling to produce merchandise, brands must digitalise in the most innovative manner to create, show case and retail their work.

At VOCAST, we personally know the benefits of digitalisation in the fashion industry and we strongly believe that our industry can continue to flourish despite present challenges. COVID-19 offers a glimpse into the future. It is speeding up a process that is already happening. The internet, social media, globalisation are already forcing fashion brands to find ways to aid brand discovery, drive demand and push products globally with small teams and limited resources. In a time where everyone is forced to stay home, having a digital showroom, and other digital processes in place, it suddenly becomes obvious to everyone how they will excel. By having a global reach, a high degree of automation, 24/7 opening hours and low costs, they are not affected by lock down.explains Jens Hamborg Koefoed, VOCAST Co-founder. 

The statistics below show that VOCAST’s customers have maintained high levels of image bank visitors and downloads despite the current state of affairs. This indicates that social isolation is not affecting image bank activity negatively, but rather that digital processes remain stable in uncertain times.

 

Global Reach During Social Isolation

The most evident benefit of digitalisation is global reach and accessibly. In other words, having instant access to resources from anywhere in the world that are available at anytime of day. During this period of social isolation, companies must maximise their global reach, especially whilst the availability of their employees is so high. Factors such as lack of commuting time and the desire to fill days at home with purpose, has resulted in increased availability for many people. Therefore, digital solutions must be used by fashion brands to maximise the asset of time availability and convert it into a positive force: productivity. The fashion industry is certainly embracing the fact that digitalisation can provoke change in a positive way, but brands must urgently keep working to find new digital solutions if they want to be successful in the current climate.

 

Industry Insights

The Business of Fashion (1) has been addressing this issue and predicts that as businesses begin to close offices and employees work from home, specialised digital platforms catering to the fashion industry will be set to grow. Forbes (2) comments on why it is vital that digital service providers help drive innovation, improve service levels and performance, reduce costs and enable companies to execute more quickly on critical projects. According to Forbes (2), it is because digital solutions have proved to help companies achieve business objectives and create more value in customer and employee experiences. Rather than being apprehensive about how working habits and comforts will inevitably carry on changing during this pandemic, Vogue Business (3) has noticed how fashion brands are finding new methods to not only preserve their local reach, but grow their global one due to digitalisation. Methods such as joining e-commerce platforms, live-streaming sites and social commerce apps.

 

Copenhagen Fashion Week: Pioneers in Digital Fashion Solutions

Closer to home, the Danish fashion industry has been pioneering digital solutions since before the outbreak of this pandemic. For the Autumn Winter 2020 season, Copenhagen Fashion Week launched their first Digital Runway in partnership with VOCAST. The Digital Runway worked as a digital extension to the physical event. Runway looks and backstage photos were shared shortly after shows and presentations, letting attendees revisit, review, share and publish the collections. Importantly, it allowed those who did not attend the shows to take part in the event by having access to see and review the looks.

Copenhagen Fashion Week’s initiative towards increased service and global reach was possible through digitalisation. The audience was not limited to the physical attendees of fashion week. It was maximised to all relevant profiles around the world. Global buyers and press contacts were able to view shows almost as if they were present at the event without the monetary or time cost of travel. Danish fashion brands were able to tastefully present their collections to the entire world without partaking in the communication manually. Furthermore, the Digital Runway gave the actual attendees of the shows and presentations the opportunity to enjoy and immerse themselves in fashion week through their eyes, not their phones. An interesting twist in how digital solutions can make us more present as global consumers in our local community.

Statistics from past seasons show how Copenhagen Fashion Week’s reach expanded during the AW20 fashion week due to improved implementation of digitalisation. The graphs show that the amount of downloads doubled from the SS20 fashion week as well as amount of users which increased by 120%.

 

Global Fashion Week Cancellations: Change is Now Upon Us

Over the past few weeks, several designers have cancelled their shows across global fashion weeks including New York, London, Paris and Milan. As of last week however, these prominent fashion weeks have either been cancelled or subjected to change. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (4) has now cancelled the official presentations of New York Fashion Week: Resort 2021. Additionally, The Business of Fashion (5) has reported that London Men’s Fashion Week, and both Paris Men’s and Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week have been cancelled. All three fashion weeks were due to take place this summer. Moreover, Vogue (6) reports that Milan Fashion Week will take place in September and will combine both women’s and men’s fashion weeks together. The hope for the industry is that these closures will provoke positive change, not crush creativity. With the correct digital solutions and hard working innovative minds, it can be possible to continue sharing design around the world. In Copenhagen, we have already seen how our city is pushing forward digitalisation during fashion week. But, now that the world is rapidly changing, fashion brands across the globe are being forced to find new ways to share their work with audiences. The fashion week experience may not only be changing this summer, but also in the coming seasons. Brands will inevitably need to adapt to this, and creative digital solutions could be an answer.

References: Photo credit: Copenhagen Fashion Week image bank. (1) Business of Fashion. Retrieved March 25th. Online The Fashion-Tech Companies Getting a Boost As Covid-19 Takes Hold (2) Forbes. Retrieved March 25th. Online. Companies Moving To Digital At Scale (3) VOGUE Business. Retrieved March 26th. Online. China’s e-commerce proves resilient under Covid-19 (4) CFA. Retrieved March 30th. Online. An Important CFDA Message on NYFW Men’s and Resort | News | CFDA (5) The Business of Fashion. Retrieved March 30th. Online. London and Paris Men’s and Couture Fashion Weeks Cancelled, Milan Men’s Week Postponed (6) VOGUE. Retrieved March 30th. Online. Men’s Fashion Week and Couture Week Are Canceled in Paris, Milan to Combine Men’s and Women’s Fashion Weeks in September

Georgina is the Lifestyle Researcher for the US and UK Market at VOCAST, responsible for both American and British fashion and lifestyle research. Along with her work at VOCAST and studies at Copenhagen Business School, she is passionate about conscious fashion reform in the industry.

Laura is the Customer Success Consultant at VOCAST. Pursuing her passion for digital marketing and PR, she leads project onboarding, guides clients to improve their communication strategies and is responsible for the fashion and interior research in the Danish market.

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