After nearly two years of disruption, the global fashion industry is finding its feet once again. After facing several challenges such as supply-chain issues, patchy demand, and persistent pressure on the bottom line, companies are doing their best to return a profit in 2022.

Changing category landscapes, new digital tools, and frontiers as well as advances in sustainability present opportunities that brands and retailers need to tap into, to grow in the year ahead.

The major themes of 2022

What will the major themes that will shape the fashion economy in 2022 be? Amid the challenges that the pandemic brings and given its unpredictable progress, the imperative for brands will be to secure their recovery. At the same time, they must adapt to evolving consumer demand and ensure they take the opportunities offered by new digital frontiers. As sustainability becomes a more urgent concern, brands need to ramp up their efforts to reflect customer values in their strategy and function. Finally, brands need to find new ways to attract the best and brightest tech talents as cybersecurity will be near the top of the agenda in 2022.

More specifically, there is no doubt that the perpetual flourishing of online business models became a longer-term trend that accelerated during the pandemic. Brands that want to stay ahead of change, must invest in hyper-interactive digital environments and e-commerce tools and platforms. In 2022, companies are expected to seek fresh approaches to online creativity and commerce, with nonfungible tokens, gaming “skins,” and virtual fashion edging closer to the mainstream. In the past year, some brands have already expanded into the digital “metaverse,” rolling out virtual stores, gaming, and digital events. In the next 12 months, these efforts will intensify, as in-app social commerce plays an increasingly important role.

New consumers are more conscious than ever, making sustainability a dominant priority in the fashion agenda. They want to know where materials come from, how products are made, and whether the people involved are treated fairly. In response, more and more companies are expanding their sustainable practices and working to boost these throughout their operations.

As digital applications are becoming more and more popular, fashion brands need to invest more in the protection of their systems, partners, and customers. Cyber talents will be highly wanted while brands will need to find effective ways to attract and retain employees. These are important as they play a significant role in a brand’s perception and interaction with the final consumer. Authenticity and employee well-being will be more important than ever.

Still facing a complex mix of challenges and opportunities, the fashion industry must work hard and systematically to unlock growth the year ahead. Digital progress, sustainability, and supply chain will be among the top priorities for decision-makers who will have to deal with consumers’ evolving needs and focus intently on the bottom line.

Source: The State of Fashion 2022, a report by McKinsey and Co and the Business of Fashion.

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