Newsletter |  Nov. 12 2021

Newsletter | Nov. 12 2021

In our last newsletter we discussed what’s affecting the footwear industry currently. In this newsletter we’ll have a look at what may affect the footwear industry in the future. Here are three companies aiming to disrupt the fashion apparel industry:

  • Rent The Runway - a clothing rental service changing the way consumers buy apparel.
  • Wannaby Inc. - a software company changing how footwear is marketed online.
  • Dress X - a fashion company that sells no physical products.

"Rent, Don't Buy Clothes"

Rent The Runway (RTR) is a subscription-based clothing e-commerce site, that recently had an IPO of $1.3 billion. RTR is going straight for women’s closets and trying to change the way apparel is owned. RTR has two sides for consumers, one selling customers a subscription plan that allows users to rent a limited number of items per month.  The other, selling designer clothes at discount much like the re-sale market.  

Currently, the company is only offering designer clothing and handbags. The guess to why RTR isn’t in footwear, is that it just may not be as lucrative to rent shoes. This is probably due to higher wear and tear from footwear as opposed to clothing. However, we’ll see if the company decides in the future to move into renting out footwear.  

How it's future affects the industry:

 As of July 2021 Rent the Runway had 97,614 active subscribers. While it doesn’t seem like the norm to rent clothing as of now, $1 billion in funding could surely make some waves to change consumer behavior. However, the company is still operating at a loss. Like most other tech companies, RTR’s valuation and focus is on growth. Depending on RTR’s growth, we may see a shift in retailers and wholesalers do business.

On the retail side, this change in consumer behavior might reduce sales for dresses and accessories. RTR’s model of “rent for the event” will impact bridal and prom retailers more heavily. On the flip side, with more consumers willing to adopt a subscription rather than buy—it may provide retailers with another form of revenue.

On the wholesale side, this change to consumer behavior may provide a new way to market and also sell. Allowing customers to try on and rent clothes can generate new followers for the brand, which would have otherwise been dissuaded by the price point. For sales, the online clothing rental market is a possible new sales channel for wholesalers and designers to sell their clothing.

"A Changing Room, But Online"

Wannaby Inc. is a software company that allows website customers the ability to virtually try on shoes. Most notably, they've collaborated with Gucci and Reebok to create AR shoes.Their app, Wanna Kicks, allows any user to try on hard-to-find sneakers straight from their phone.

Before, if you wanted to see what’s new, you'd have to physically walk into stores to browse their new arrivals. Now, consumers can browse from the comfort of their own home. From brick and mortar to e-commerce, we’re seeing another change in how products are marketed. This next move in online marketing is the push for augmented reality or AR.

How it's future affects the industry:

As of right now, the tech with AR to market footwear products is very lackluster. To judge AR’s effectiveness at marketing, we should pay attention to the eye-wear industry and their adoption of AR. Currently, eyewear like glasses and goggles have the better AR for products—this in part due to the existing software behind facial recognition. Still, even in the eyewear industry, using AR to market products is in the early adoption stage. 

For now, product photographers will keep their jobs. The future where fashion companies will need to hire 3D designers to market their products is still far away. However, as AR becomes more realistic and if it becomes an industry staple, AR will become another added cost to doing business online. 

"Digital Clothes"

Dress X is a digital fashion brand pushing for sustainability and reducing waste, by only selling their products digitally. First, customers buy an article of clothing or shoes from Dress X and send in a picture. Then customers are given their altered picture of themselves back wearing the digital apparel.

While Dress X is a brand, it’s also an online shopping platform for various digital designers. In the current climate of NFTs and crypto-currency, it looks like digital fashion isn’t too far-fetched. But for the digital fashion industry to take off, it’s going to take a lot more changes in how people interact online.

How it's future affects the industry:

Currently, the concept is rooted in the fact people engage online with photos such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Also, consumers are becoming more mindful of reducing fashion and textile waste. Digital fashion’s sustainability argument might just be what conscientious customers are looking for.

Imagine a world where consumers can either A. buy the physical product to own vs. B. buy a digital copy of the product (most likely at a fraction of the cost) to be transposed onto a picture of them. A future world where retailers license designs for digital apparel and designers create avant-garde digital clothing. That might be the future of apparel, depending on how digital fashion gains traction. The future is possible yes, but plausible? maybe. 

Nonetheless, all these stories are for the future. We’ll have to see what the future holds and how technology changes the landscape of the apparel world. 

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