Each term our Executive MBA (Fashion) business minds take an in-depth look at the fashion industry and wider issues that are having a knock-on effect on supply chains, management, cultural changes and technology. The latest panel discussion brought experts from ES Magazine, EDITED and academics to explore trends and adapting to them in the industries fast-cycles.

Are trends adopting to consumer buying behaviour or are brands leading the way? Image: Lynda.

Are trends adopting to consumer buying behaviour or are brands leading the way? Image: Lynda.

Without a doubt, fashion is fast, global and ever-changing. The development of fashion trends, their production and distribution are no longer constrained to twelve-month lead times. The development of technology and free trade has fuelled the supply of product whilst consumerism has matched this with demand increases.

Research suggests that fashion is accepted by the consumers and is one of the strongest drivers to influence and motivate their intention to buy and adopt new products (Rahman, 2014). This makes the identification of viable trends to match this opportunity a business imperative. However, with the rise of social media and the empowerment of the consumer who really is in the driving seat of the relationship between brand and its customer?

Supporting this panel discussion, the EMBA at London College of Fashion was joined by EDITED, the industry standard tool used by fashion retailers to ensure that their product ranges, pricing strategies and trends are in tune with market demand. Their practical demonstration of trend adoption followed by a panel discussion with invited guests turned into a lively debate.

The panel comprised:

  • Karinna Nobbs was a visual marketer by trade, moving into academia by accident when she realised how addictive researching and teaching about fashion could be. During her academic career, she has lectured in more than 25 institutions, plus spoken at 87 conferences across 19 countries. Fashion is an industry which completely fascinates her, as its dynamic, unpredictable and global nature means it is an intriguing challenge, both to understand and research. Similarly, technology, the digitalisation of our economy and our lifestyles, and its relationship to fashion is another subject of passionate investigation.
  • Kristina Mills is an experienced strategist with a career history in the apparel and fashion industry. Within her role as Retail Strategy Director, she is responsible for identifying use cases and implementing training programs across my account base and proving ROI of the product to key strategic contacts. Key to her role is the adaptation of key EDITED features to multiple teams and retail organisations from across the world and integrate the platform into their internal processes by ensuring excellent training and understanding of how EDITED can aid users in their decision making.
  • Maurice Mullen is the Head of Fashion and Luxury at London Evening Standard and ES Magazine. Mullen has been an important figure in fashion publishing for nearly 30 years and is also on the advisory board of the British Fashion Council. He is a founder member of the UK chapter of Fashion Group International and an honorary member of ‘The Industry.’ In 2015, Mullen starred as himself in the documentary series The Successors that featured the top members of the global business industry. He a regular contributor to industry events and is a keen champion of London College of Fashion.
The EMBA panel discussing trends and consumer patterns in the industry.

The EMBA panel discussing trends and consumer patterns in the industry.

Commenting on the evening James Clark, Course Leader, EMBA noted that the breadth of the panel and the seemingly endless potential of trend analysis had ensured that the discussion was varied and often contentious. He was particularly struck by how the discussion moved toward the future direction of the retail fashion industry and the question of whether the existing buying and merchandising structures are still fit for purpose.

EMBA student Aashima Joshi also spoke to us after the panel discussion to reflect on what was discussed, she told us:

The panel discussion about whether trend adoption and consumer buying behaviour is consumer or brand led started off with a very crisp and on-point presentation by Kristina Mills of EDITED. It was extremely relevant and upbeat with the current climate of the fashion industry; deeply insightful in terms of how trends are translated from the ramp to the shelf, how colour palettes are explored and absorbed, from couture to high-street and the likes. She, along with the remaining panel members engaged in how the current industry trends have shifted from top-down/bottom-up, to this circular-rhythmed cycle of trends – how we are in a constant rotation of fashion that works during a certain era for a certain crowd and comes back in a slightly different form, gaining more attention and capturing other segments of the market, all based on carefully listening to the real needs of the consumer. Hyper-personalisation is the forecasted trend of the near future and brands need to be far more careful of what dialogue they create with their target audience, and most importantly – how.

In line with the above, a certain something that stood out for me personally was the statement made by Silva Hrabar – “you need to have two things: Magic and Logic”. It made complete sense to me as to the primary ingredients for what works and is successful in today’s highly volatile fashion environment. All in all, it was a deeply engaging and informative panel, giving us extensive industry insight and a 360-degree perspective of this expedited industry we are in.

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