MII attended the Vogue Business Fashion Futures event last week alongside 300 industry thought-leaders, designers and startup founders to discuss the changes coming to fashion.
Here are our top takeaways from the event:
- Pilot fatigue is real.
During the discussions the same theme came up again and again. Brands are tired of piloting new materials – they want to scale up their use of next-gen materials across their collections but innovators aren’t yet in a position to do so and brands are finding it frustrating. Almost every panel mentioned this concept, so scale is clearly key when it comes to the success of next-gen materials. A surprise to the industry? Definitely not, but also worth remembering as we work to accelerate the material revolution – brands are very interested in using next-gen materials on a larger scale!
- Longer term commitments are needed.
A number of innovators mentioned their need for brands to commit to longer term contracts with them. This commitment, even just showing written intent, will effectively allow them to scale up their operations and be better placed to serve brands going forward. Unfortunately, brands are still buying their materials seasonally, which although common practice in the fashion industry, is difficult for smaller innovators.
- Factory partners are a key stakeholder.
Additionally, factory partners are key stakeholders for innovators to engage with. If they can get factories on board, it is much easier for projects to go ahead smoothly. Factory partners have concerns around next-gen materials and inks effectively integrating into their current systems and trying to convince them otherwise is difficult for innovators to do alone. The solution? Brands should speak with their factories about their intent to integrate next-gen materials into their products on a large scale, showing factories it’s an investment worth making to the future of their business.
- Next-gen materials are getting better but there’s still work to be done.
Getting up close and personal with some next-gen material swatches and products from innovators such as NFW, Uncaged Innovations and even the Mara Hoffman x Circ® dress really shows how next-gen materials have come along leaps and bounds over the past few years. However, during the discussions, Ganni mentioned that consumers are still keen to pay for calf leather as it’s perceived as luxurious. Although our research shows that 90% of consumers are open to purchasing next-gen materials, as an industry we still have some work to do to shift consumer perception towards perceiving these new materials as equally or even more luxurious than calf leather. Fortunately, collections from high end brands such as Gucci and Stella McCartney are likely to support this shift.
For more insights from the event, check out Vogue Business’ deep-dive article.