The fashion industry, fueled by rapid technological advancements, embraces an ever-evolving array of new looks, styles, and trends.
The fashion industry soars to new heights with expected annual growth of 9.36% by 2027. Undoubtedly, technological development has sped up this process.
As a result, many businesses are embracing digital technology and aligning their sales strategies with growing consumer expectations. Customers seek a coherent online shopping experience, although physical retail outlets continue to be valued.
While many consumers still prefer to shop in person, social commerce gained huge popularity. However, it seems that delivering fluid omnichannel experiences will become important as 73% of e-commerce consumers report using various channels during their customer journey.
Other pressures on retailers come from more conscious consumerism, sustainability, a lack of brand loyalty among shoppers, and logistical concerns around sourcing goods and materials.
While analyzing these changes to predict the future may seem futile, it is possible to observe transformations in the fashion industry and adjust the actions accordingly.
In this article we will try to answer the question of how the fashion industry will look like in 2030 to uncover the biggest fashion trends by customers and manufacturers alike.
Consumer Behavior and Trends
In recent years, there was a massive growth in ecommerce that left us with a new approach to online shopping. Virtual try-ons, personal bot solutions and social commerce have popularized and changed consumers’ expectations.
Nowadays, customers expect personalized experiences and to be rewarded for their loyalty. According to Accenture 48 percent of consumers expect specialized treatment for being a good customer. Moreover, 33% of customers abandoned a business relationship because of insufficient personalization.
Consumers have more information available and they research the products they want to purchase thoroughly. They use social media, influencers recommendations, or browse through the reviews.
- 54% of users research products on social media.
- In 2021, nearly 70% of online shoppers read at least one customer review before making a purchase.
This shows how much the fashion industry is already heavily reliant on digital tools. In fact, we believe that the use of digital tools will only become more widespread and sophisticated over the next decade. New technologies will be pivotal in the industry both from the standpoint of retailers and consumers.
Trends in 2030
Technological advancements and evolving consumer behaviors are set to shape the way businesses operate and interact with their target audiences. Here are some key trends that are expected to dominate the business world in 2030:
Personalization has become a priority for consumers demanding faster, multi-channel experiences tailored to their preferences.
Retailers are now able to deploy better tools and technologies to process data faster and gain deeper, real-time insights into how customers shop. With businesses collecting more and more detailed data about consumers, their needs, and behaviors the shopping experience can be more tailored.
Big brands such as Amazon, Microsoft, or Google have led the way by incorporating machine learning technology to help deliver more personalized shopping experiences.
These solutions can provide consumers with more tailored product recommendations, personalized product re-ranking, pricing and communication. Automating these processes via machine learning can potentially lead to greater insight into the customer shopping journey.
This also gives more niche businesses the opportunity to reach very specific audiences with a more personalized offering. It also enhances business performance by improving conversion rates.
However it’s vital for brands not to over personalize. According to a Gartner study, Brands that cross the line with personalisation are three times more likely to be abandoned from shopping by customers.
It may be due to consumers becoming more conscious about their privacy online and are wary of sharing too much information with brands. While customers continue to crave personalized experiences, it’s important that brands are conscious of how they use these data.
Social media and communities as a sales channel
The social commerce market is rapidly growing. Between 2022 and 2023 it grew by over $300 billion and is expected to reach around $2.9 trillion by 2026 worldwide according to Statista insights.
With such a massive growth different platforms want to jump to the opportunity selling online can bring. This resulted in social media platforms adopting ecommerce solutions now collectively called social commerce.
The youngest generations turn to social media to buy products. Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to search for, interact and purchase through social media rather than go for search engines and branded websites.
These changes to consumer preferences resulted in a shift in how retailers approach social sales channels. According to The State of Social Media Investment Report, almost half of retailers stated that social media selling is a key priority in their future strategy.
To achieve this retailers will need to discover how their audiences engage with them on social media and the best ways to enhance the in-platform experience.
Insider Intelligence forecasts that consumer retail spending via chatbots will hit $142 billion by 2024. Compared to $2.8 billion recorded in 2019 we can see that this trend has grown tremendously and isn’t going to stop.
Personal AI or Robot shopping assistants are intelligent systems designed to provide shoppers with personalized and tailored experiences, both online and in physical stores. These solutions play a crucial role in guiding customers throughout their shopping journey, aiming to boost customer engagement, foster loyalty, and ultimately drive sales.
Bots can be a huge help at every stage of the customer journey from product discovery to post-purchase support. For example, bots can act as virtual stylists, offering fashion advice and helping customers put together outfits.
Or, they can guide customers through the shopping process by providing real-time stock updates, recommend alternative options when products are out of stock, or offer size and fit information to assist customers in making decisions.
An example of a personal assistant is Mercari launched Merchat AI. Through conversational experience, this virtual assistant helps customers find the right products they are looking for and creates a richer shopping experience.
To ensure that shopping assistants accurately fulfill their role, it is important to provide consumers with a realistic experience. This is where the incorporation of UX writing and natural language processing methods becomes crucial. By leveraging these techniques, businesses can apply the appropriate tone of voice and ensure that the shopping assistant aligns with the user's cultural context.
By developing and adopting emotionally intelligent AI companies would be able to improve customer trust, accessibility and personalization processes. This will be possible by designing conversational flows and scenario-based training that will help AI understand different emotional situations and use appropriate and empathetic language.
A great example of empathetic communication can be found in mental health support software Woebot Health.
Virtual try-ons are a great way to encourage customers to engage with a brand without ordering a physical item. This trend is expected to grow at an annual compound rate of 25.2% between now and 2028 and reach $15.43 billion.
Most virtual fitting rooms work using AR by scanning a person’s body with a webcam to create a 360-degree 3D model. Virtual try-ons can also be powered by artificial intelligence. AI uses algorithms and machine learning to calculate the shopper’s measurements and create a full-body 3D model. The model is combined with radio frequency identification (RFID) that scans the products a shopper wants to try on. Then the technology overlays the scanned products on the 3D model.
A great example of virtual try-on can be found in eyewear company Warby Parker. Their app not only allows customers to try on different frames but also analyzes face shape and skin tone to help make the purchase.
Prada also adopted virtual try-ons and uses augmented reality and computer vision technologies to help customers see how exactly the clothes would fit them.
By leveraging virtual try-ons, retailers can offer customers a realistic preview of how the products would look on them, helping to mitigate the uncertainty associated with online shopping.
Virtual try-ons serve as a powerful tool to address the challenge of returns, which continues to pose a significant hurdle for fashion ecommerce retailers with a return rate exceeding 24%. Virtual try-ons not only have the potential to reduce the number of returns but also contribute to reducing the costs associated with them.
Netguru's Virtual Dressing Room is a solution that allows users to visualize how the clothes will look on them just by including their measurements and a photo of their face. The concept was born out of the pressing need in the fashion industry to reduce returns while increasing conversions.
Businesses can also benefit from operating more sustainably by reducing the amount of waste that comes with the increased returns.
Big players such as Google joined the trend recently, by also focusing on the importance of customers’ cultural, racial and sizing preferences in virtual try-ons to reflect their own. This aims to help the right outfit easier, faster and improve customer satisfaction overall when shopping.
Smart mirrors are another 2030 fashion trend on the rise. Retail giants such as H&M and Ralph Lauren are among the companies to have already adopted this innovation.
Smart mirrors are an extension of virtual try-ons, allowing customers to instantly change from one outfit to another without leaving a fitting room. Similarly to VTOs, smart mirrors are using RFID that helps identify the chosen product and ultimately, complete a purchase. The technology also allows customers to pick the product from an online library and try it on.
Smart mirrors allow customers to easily customize the size or color of items while trying them on. This streamlines the purchase process, eliminating the need for staff to scan each garment. As a result, staff can focus on other tasks. Fewer physical interactions with products also reduce the likelihood of damage.
Smart mirrors eliminate the need for physical storage space in stores, optimizing logistics and reducing costs.
Smart Clothing with Wearable Tech
Smart clothing refers to clothes that have been enhanced with technology to provide additional features. Smart clothes use advanced textiles with interwoven circuitry, implement sensors or use additional hardware that provides smart functionality.
KPMG states that we can expect smart clothing to:
- Warm and cool us when needed
- Be personalized and self-designed
- Change color
- Track our sports performance
- Collect medical data
A great example of smart clothing are Sensoria Smart Socks that can detect which part of your feet experience most pressure during your run and can send this data to a smartphone app.
Another example is limited-edition smart shoes created by Pizza Hut. Equipped with embedded technology, users could simply press a button on the shoe to place an order. This innovative approach showcased Pizza Hut's dedication to integrating technology into fun and distinctive customer experiences.
While smart clothing hasn’t been widely adopted and it’s still in the experimental phase, we can expect it to develop as the market is projected to grow and reach USD 5.3 billion by 2024.
Another trend that is much more popular than smart clothing is wearable tech such as smartwatches or VR glasses. Although augmented reality and virtual reality adoption is still in very early days, it’s definitely growing and is set to reach over 130M VR device users and over 100M AR users in 2027.
Digital fashion and the phygital experience
Digital fashion is a trend that is relatively new but it’s getting momentum. It uses virtual avatars and digital models to sell clothing and accessories. It allows customers to browse, try on, and purchase items online without leaving their homes.
Unlike in the physical world, in the metaverse designers are not limited by fabric availability or physical constraints, enabling them to create unique and imaginative designs.
The development of technologies like 3D printing, AR and VR has made digital fashion a viable and immersive experience, allowing customers to virtually try on clothes from the comfort of their homes or computers.
There's also a trend called phygital fashion which refers to the trend of incorporating digital elements into traditional fashion design. An example of phygital fashion can be an NFT pair of shoes that lives on the blockchain, but you can also buy an identical physical pair online tied to the NFT smart contract address and deliver it to your house.
As digital and physical worlds collide, Roblox comes with an interesting insight about the phygital fashion. They report that in 2022 11.5 million creators designed over 62 million virtual clothing and accessory items on Roblox. These designs reached millions of people all over the world and impacted how they express themselves. Almost half of Gen Z consumers expect brands and designers to offer extravagant fashion trends they can experiment with, which they wouldn’t otherwise try in real life.
It means, digital fashion is on a rise. In fact, brands like Gucci, Nike, Burberry, Karlie Kloss, Carolina Herrera have been a part of it for a while. However, there are also digital fashion designers that are creating clothes entirely online.
Digital individual craftsmanship allows the customer to be in the center of the creation process and can order what they’ve loved virtually right away in real life.
Another 2030 trend that we can already see emerging is sustainable fashion. Sustainability and an aversion to so-called ‘fast fashion’ have become more prevalent among consumers.
Customers expect companies to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and transparency around how goods are produced. A McKinsey survey revealed that two-thirds of respondents believe it’s important to reduce the impacts of climate change. A further 88% said they believe that more attention should be paid to reducing air pollution.
The knock-on effect for companies is that they need to adopt sustainable practices around the production of their goods. Fashion brands like Patagonia are leading the way when it comes to utilizing recycled materials in their clothing and encouraging shoppers to limit how many products they buy.
We can also see a strong trend of how the sustainable and organic wardrobe may look like in 2030. It would consist of:
- Plant-based leather alternatives
- Natural, sustainable, recyclable fabrics
- 60% second-hand clothing
- Product with detailed information on the sustainability of the supply chains.
Consumers become more and more concerned with how the clothes are manufactured. To provide customers with detailed information on the entire supply chain, companies such as Zara, Adidas, or H&M started to use RFID technology that collects data of identified products.
However, companies have no way to protect the authenticity of the information. A possible solution could be found in blockchain technology that transmits information by validating it by multiple users which makes data secure.
Another rising trend that goes against fast fashion is second hand clothing. This segment of the fashion industry seems to be growing. It’s predicted that second hand fashion will stand for 8% of all apparel revenue in 2025 compared to the current 6%.
Second hand fashion trend also indicates a strong need for a circular economy. It’s an idea that we should share, lease, reuse, repair, and recycle existing materials and products for as long as possible.
Empowering Inclusivity: Diversity and Size Representation
Inclusivity and diversity have become increasingly important in the fashion industry, with size representation and gender fluidity emerging as key factors.
With Generation Alpha (children born 2013-2024) becoming the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, in the upcoming 10 years this trend will be even more evident. And Alpha generation could account even for over 2 billion people ready to shop online.
Virtual Try-On with Generative AI technology will also accelerate the trend, where we may start to see more auto generated models showcasing styles that will reflect customer’s personal and cultural fit and look straight on e-commerce portals, or even with our own face and bodystyle.
By embracing size representation, the fashion industry can foster a more inclusive and diverse landscape that truly caters to the needs of all consumers.
Gender fluidity is a growing focus in the fashion industry, as brands understand they should be more accessible to all genders. An example can be the Zalando campaign called “Here to stay” that embraces diversity.
As Barbara Daliri, Zalando's Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing described, this campaign “is a celebration of values which are at the core of Zalando, specifically embracing diversity and inclusivity. These values and the stories of real people matter a lot to us and allow us to engage with our diverse customers.”
Brands that embrace gender fluidity can create more inclusive marketing campaigns, allowing more consumers that don’t identify with traditional schemas to express their unique identities.
The fashion industry is poised to undergo transformations driven by technology and innovations. Technological advancements will continue to shape consumer behavior and the way fashion is consumed. Online shopping, mobile commerce, and social media influence will remain prominent, and technology will continue to provide convenience and personalized experiences for customers.
Sustainability and ethical practices will become even more critical in the fashion industry as consumers demand greater transparency and responsible production. Fashion brands may go toward eco-friendly materials, circular fashion models, and ethical sourcing to meet these expectations.
The concept of digital fashion will gain traction, with virtual avatars and digital models taking center stage. Digital fashion will offer limitless creative possibilities, allowing designers to experiment with extravagant designs that defy physical constraints.
Personalization and customization will become popularized, as consumers seek unique and tailored experiences. From personalized recommendations to virtual try-ons, technology will enable brands to deliver tailored services at every touchpoint.
Furthermore, inclusivity and diversity will be at the forefront of the fashion industry. Brands will embrace diverse representation, cater to various body types, and promote inclusivity in their marketing and design strategies.
Overall, the fashion industry in 2030 will be shaped by a combination of technological advancements and market demand. By understanding and embracing these trends, fashion brands can cater to the changing demands and preferences of consumers in the future.