On the look out: Apparel industry trends for 2017

With global sales in the apparel industry expected to exceed $1.4 trillion this year, it’s important to note the apparel industry trends for 2017 that could impact this figure.

By 2025, it is anticipated that the size of the global apparel market will grow to $285 billion in the USA, $440 billion in the EU and a staggering $540 billion in China. Retailers looking to grow their own business in this sector simply have to look at how they can change and adapt themselves in 2017 in order to keep up with the market.

The following are our own predictions for what retailers need to look out for in the apparel industry in 2017.

apparel trends for 2017

1. Menswear sales will continue to increase.

From 2011 to 2014, menswear sales increased by 264% and it is expected that by 2019 menswear sales will reach $40 billion globally. This is much higher than in previous years, as it is estimated menswear clothing sales totaled around £9.49 million in the UK in 2009. There is quite clearly a growing demand for more extensive menswear ranges and it is something that apparel retailers and manufacturers need to watch out for. Retail marketing agency Boutique@Ogilvy have found that 94% of American men would say they have a “defined sense of style”, showing that men are paying much more attention to trends than they have previously done.

To accommodate this, retailers need to look at their own menswear offerings, if they indeed have any at all, and look to capitalise on the increasing desire in the market. Mens shopping behaviours are changing, with more impulse buys and longer time spent browsing, and retailers need to key in to this. Creating menswear-only social media channels would be an excellent marketing tool, as different approaches are needed compared to promoting womenswear. Different types of image and varying sales approaches have better results with men, and retailers in 2017 should develop more targeted social media.

2. More ecommerce shops.

It has been found that customers who use mobile devices will spend on average 8 times more than those who only visit bricks and mortar shops. Whilst bricks and mortar shops are still booming, in 2017 we may find that more retailers are looking to improve their websites and ensure they are fully optimised for mobile browsing/purchasing.

It is expected by 2020 that online clothing sales will account for 28.8% of the UK’s online spend, which is a huge percentage considering the range of services and products being sold online daily. This could encourage more entrepreneurs to set up online clothing websites or could even push struggling physical retailers to move digital and take full advantage of the growing market. There are many benefits to going digital rather than physical, such as less left-over inventory, lower costs and potential for a more personalised service.

3. Quality will become more of a priority.

If something is being sold online, there is a chance that there is a review for it somewhere. This means that customers are no longer simply buying something because they like the look of it, now they are getting more insight in to the quality of the product and its usability. Retailers like Topshop have review sections for each of their products, where customers who have purchased the product can leave their review for others to read – whether positive or not. Quality will become much more of a top priority for shoppers in 2017, with more independent research being carried out in to if the product is worth the money.

This could potentially prove costly to some retailers, as they will need to meet this demand for better quality in order to maintain custom. One method of improving quality is by reshoring manufacturing, where the production of the goods is moved back to where the brand is based. Being closer to the manufacturer means that a retailer has increased control over the manufacturing process and can therefore ensure better quality. Personalisation is also a strong way to improve quality, as the customer could feel as though they are getting a better product.

4. Personalisation will become more popular.

The customisation of products for individual customers is due to become even bigger in 2017. With brands like Burberry and Topshop offering in-store customisation and monogramming, more and more retailers are realising the monetary potential of personalising products for their customers. Brands like Fame and Partners offer a service of dresses and other garments that can be completely customised according to your height, size and personal taste – providing customers with clothing that feels unique to them.

Retailers should look at their own potential for personalisation with both their products, their website and the way in which their customer can shop. As explored in our piece on retail trends for 2017, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence will make complete customisation of services possible in the future. But, for now, since personalisation is determined best by analysing customer data, retailers should look to digital to improve – product recommendations specific to a customer can generate more sales. Personalising your website homepage, like Very have done, will guide your customer through your website more personally and seeing the products they like straight away could lead to more impulse buys.

5. Vietnam will become a bigger player in manufacturing.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has now become synonymous with sourcing in Vietnam, with reduced tariffs becoming a lucrative prospect for the manufacturing-heavy country. Amongst the 12 pacific-rim states who signed the agreement, President-elect Donald Trump has stated that one of his first actions following his inauguration in January will be to back out of the deal. However, with the recently negotiated free trade deal with the EU, Vietnam can continue to grow in the industry and become a big competitor for manufacturing giant China.

The TPP would have made it imperative for the country to introduce worker protections which would have undoubtedly lead to the formation of workers unions for the 2.2 million people employed in the sector, where higher wages could have been bargained for. Vietnam currently has lower wages than those offered in China, resulting in lower prices for retailers. This, coupled with government incentives to increase foreign exports such as duty-free imports of raw materials, could see more retailers looking to the South-East Asian country for supplies.

These are our picks for the top apparel industry trends for 2017 – what will you be looking out for?

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