With so many changes constantly happening in many fields, we can’t help but wonder what does the future of our fashion look like? Perhaps not the most pressing question at the moment given the current political climate but still work asking considering the UK fashion industry contributes £20.92 billion to the UK.
With the reveal of some well-known high street stores closing down, what will the fashion industry look like in the next 10 years? In the past 6 months retailers from House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, New Look and Debenhams have announced the closing down of multiple branches within their companies and of course we are just as shocked and concerned as you are.
Marks and Spencer are set to close over 100 stores by 2022 as part of a radical restructuring plan. Expressing that the 100 stores to be closed were classed as ‘low performing’ and are struggling to compete with similar brands on the market. The closing down of stores has shown an increase in customers in their other stores nearby, however, the jobs of 626 employees are now under threat. With the employees of all the closing stores, redundancy is an option but only after some consideration to move to other branches. With so many jobs at risk, where do the new fashion graduates stand at creating their future through these brands?
House of Fraser is another store to shut 31 of their branches due to being classed as the ‘underperforming’ stores. By the end of the year, they will reduce the chains UK stores count to just 28 and are set to sell a significant stake to the Hamleys boss, C. Banner. New Look was another shock closure, considering it’s much younger audience compared to the other brands, it questions which factor is actually causing these closures? New Look are considering the closure of 60 stores due to their struggle competing with similar high street fashion chains. Announced as ‘poorly performing,’ they have announced their struggle to repay the money they owe, resulting in the closure of their stores, which is already underway.
These high street brands have been known as upmarket outlets and have sustained the standing of their stores for a long time but are rapidly declining with the rise of technology. Online only stores are on the rise with progressing chains like Misssguided, Prettylittlething, Boohoo and Misspap taking over due to the ease of online shopping. The market for online shopping is growing at a remarkable rate and last years statistics revealed approximately 87% of UK consumers now buy fashion products online.
Online shopping isn’t the only form of technology to send these more traditional shops into closure, with more chains now using technology to their advantage in store. Zara recently unveiled a pioneering new digital store concept at Westfield Stratford City. They have a dedicated online area, automated order collection points, self-checkouts and mobile payment systems. With the attempt of trying to integrate store and online platforms, it appears they are also keeping at the top of the high street chains to avoid the fall New Look has had. Wanting to pick up something you ordered online? You can now just scan the QR or pin code given to you in your email receipt and take it to the pickup point where a robotic arm works behind-the-scenes to organise packages and deliver them to customers in seconds. I knew the robots would take over one day.
What will this mean for the upcoming designers? The future is looking digital so as you build your fashion brands and retail empires, bear in mind that the future is digital and still changing every day.