2016 has been a volatile year for the global economy and its politics, with terrorist attacks, stock market crashes, Brexit and the US election. All of these things have a huge effect on the fashion industry, with masses of changes happening in the market at every level. Overall growth has slowed, which has caused many fashion brands to totally re-think their strategies. Whats more, our increasingly digital-focussed lives, the globe has become smaller than ever, and the industry are under increased pressure to communicate in a more transparent way. Photos by Dominic Martin.

 
I’ve gone over important fashion news from around the world over the last 12 months, and thought I would round up some of the top headlines to give a quick overview of 2016. Firstly, technology has had a very obvious impact on fashion in several ways. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making their way into the industry, from the growth of snapchat, to 360 photography and video, to interactive visual merchandising. Whats more, improving technologies in manufacturing mean that 3D printing and advanced textiles are becoming more common and with increased demand from consumers. 
 
Secondly, big luxury brands like Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger have been taking queues from high-street stores like Zara and Topshop by introducing see-now buy-now fashion shows, starting a movement called fashion immediacy that interrupts the traditional fashion calendar thats existed for decades and is at its most stubborn in Paris, arguably the world’s fashion capital that seems to be losing some of its power as demand for couture and haute couture for the aristocracy is depleting.
 
Finally, for me one of the most important trends this year has been the increased customer awareness of ethics within fashion.  From recognising theft of intellectual property-as you may have seen hundreds of headlines about brands stealing the designs of independent fashion designers without credit or royalty, to the popularisation of the #shoplocal and #shopsmall movements, with more and more consumers realising the enrionmental and social impact of fast fashion, sustainability is a key issue in 21st century fashion, and brands simply cannot ignore that anymore.
 
 
And whats next for the industry? A recently released Business of Fashion report, The State of Fashion 2017, suggests an overall growth in the industry, as well as predicting 10 main market trends for 2017:
 

 

1. INTENSIFYING VOLATILITY
Volatility is the new normal. Geopolitical instability, terrorism, Brexit, and stalled trade deals will all increase a pervasive sense of uncertainty in the global economy.
2. CHINA’S COMEBACK
China’s fundamentals, including growth of the middle and upper classes, remain strong and the government’s new fiscal policies are expected to improve conditions in 2017, but uncertainty remains.
3. URBAN ENGINES
City-based strategies trump country-based strategies: a new class of rapidly growing wealthy cities in newly influential markets are becoming central to the evolution of fashion.
4. SHREWDER SHOPPERS
Working harder to keep up with smarter shoppers: “always-on” consumers are becoming ever more sophisticated, more technology-driven, and harder to predict.
5. GENERATION CORRELATION
Opportunities to serve the young and the old better: fashion companies should consider how to fine-tune and diversify the way they approach both retired and millennials consumers.
6. THE WELLNESS DIVIDEND
Feeling good is the new looking good: more fashion players can start profiting from the wellness movement rather than competing with it.
7. CHANGING THE RHYTHM
Disruptions to the fashion cycle: expectations set by the faster pace of fashion and consumer desire for instant gratification must be addressed to deliver fashion immediacy.
8. ORGANIC GROWTH
Investing more to nurture local clientele: 2017 has the potential to be the year of organic growth based on deeper relationships with existing clients rather than geographic, channel, and store network expansion.
9. UPSTREAM TECHNOLOGY
Digital innovation goes behind the scenes: digitisation is a key to supply-chain efficiency, lower procurement costs, and enhanced sourcing opportunities.
10. OWNERSHIP SHAKE-UP
Emotionless reappraisal of brand portfolios: fashion conglomerates can be expected to further intensify their focus on big brands, creating space for other brands and industry outsiders such as private equity and family owners to acquire targets. 
 
Overall, the fashion industry is, by nature, a rapidly changing world. To keep up with it, even on an amateur student level like myself, is constant and exhausting, but vital to understand all the issues and events that effect it in order to form authentic, informed opinions, something I believe is crucial to writing a fashion blog that people trust. I don’t always write super serious posts about fashion like this, as of course there are countless websites that cover fashion news extensively, Business of Fashion being my personal favourite (and it has free professional membership for students!). Checkout the full State of Fashion report here.
 
I’d be interested to know what you think of fashion bloggers; should they be informed on the national and international fashion industry? Should fashion bloggers have received a respectable fashion education or worked in fashion themselves to be able to write critically about the industry, and to inform and advise other eager fashionistas? Or is it simply a matter of opinion and passion?
 
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx 
 

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