After a difficult couple of years, the fashion industry is finally finding its feet again. McKinsey expects global fashion sales to reach between 103 to 108 per cent of 2019 levels in 2022. This sudden boom may be easy to handle for large companies, but it could prove difficult for smaller fashion brands who need to quickly adapt to high volume sales.
2022 will be a massive test for smaller brands, especially those built over the pandemic. As the industry recovers, new trends will emerge that can change how fashion companies will operate, and many will need to scale or fail.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the clothing inventory management trends you should watch.
4 2022 trends that may impact your clothing inventory management
Logistics and supply chain issues
Despite many industries returning to “normal”, supply chain issues still hamper recovery efforts. They are partly fuelled by staff shortages in the logistics sector, caused by the more infectious COVID-19 variants. While logistic companies are trying their best, these shortages will likely persist for a while. Even as staffing levels return to normal, there’s going to be a huge backlog to work through.
We then need to consider the effects of Brexit, which has caused mass chaos to an already stressed logistics industry in the UK and Europe. Increased red tape, enhanced cross-border checks and a large amount of uncertainty has made it difficult to get supplies quickly and at a reasonable cost.
Unfortunately, the issues don’t stop there. Even if the logistics sector was operating as expected, the apparel industry faces a shortage of raw materials.
Much like the computing industry, which has seen a hugely damaging chip shortage, the apparel industry is struggling to obtain the basic materials required to keep its output high. Mass COVID outbreaks in Vietnam brought apparel production to a grinding halt during Summer 2021, disrupting the entire industry.
These issues have created an incredibly tough situation for any business in the fashion industry. Every issue results in higher costs for materials, shipping, and manufacturing. That’s why it’s essential to have an inventory and order management system that can give you a complete overview of your current stock and production processes. Keeping a close eye on how logistics and supply chain issues affect your business can help you make smart shifts to keep you in the game.
Fast fashion has become an integral part of our society, offering an easy and affordable way for people to access the latest fashion trends. Fast fashion brands such as H&M and Primark are staples of almost every major city globally, serving millions of customers every day. Unfortunately, this has created a major environmental problem, especially in the world’s poorer areas.
The fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And fast fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world and causes massive amounts of water pollution.
The UN estimates that a single pair of jeans requires a kilogram of cotton. Producing this amount requires about 7,500–10,000 litres of water. To put that in perspective, this works out around the same amount of water an average person would drink in a decade.
The most popular types of jeans present even more issues. Fabric dyes often drain into natural water sources with devastating effects on aquatic life and drinking water. Tight jeans are also packed with elastane material that provides stretch but is derived from plastic, which reduces recyclability.
Levi Strauss & Co released a report in 2015 that estimated that a pair of their iconic 501 jeans produced around 33.4kg of CO2 during the garment’s life span. That’s around the same emissions produced by the average car on a 69-mile trip.
It’s easy for consumers to separate themselves from the environmental issues involved in fast fashion. Many are unaware of the effort and materials it takes to create garments on a mass scale. Those who are aware and want to change their buying habits don’t have many sustainable options. This means that businesses within the fashion sector need to take notice and lead the charge towards a more sustainable future.
To help tackle this crucial issue, apparel companies should consider investing in sustainable initiatives, such as:
- Textile recycling programmes
- Increasing the use of recycled textiles in the production of new garments
- Actively finding ways to reduce carbon footprint and emissions, such as improvements to their logistics
- Offering products made from more eco-friendly fabrics and materials
- Create labels that incorporate traceability into your clothing, letting consumers know how each item was made and how it moved through the supply chain (which requires you to be able to track that product journey)
Changing wardrobe needs
Usually, the apparel industry dictates the latest fashion trends. The pandemic disrupted this pattern as consumers focused on comfort over style. But as we leave the lockdowns behind, customers are looking for guidance. After two years of sweatpants, customers are keen to find brand new styles to revamp their look.
Innovative brands can use this as an opportunity to start fresh and create brand new trends we haven’t seen before. They can break the seasonal cycles and introduce something new to the industry that focuses on sustainability and affordability.
Of course, there is a risk involved in breaking away from the traditional styles, but there are ways to manage that risk. Inventory management software (like Workhorse) can help businesses keep track of their stock levels and produce valuable insights into how your customers respond to new product lines. Those analytics will help guide your product strategy, allowing you to refine your brand in a way that fits with the post-pandemic lifestyle.
Fashion is digital
The Metaverse is coming. Our quest to improve every aspect of our lives with digital tools is quickly coming to its natural conclusion: a fully digital world. We’ve had a couple of years of practice when it comes to leading a digital lifestyle. While our IRL wardrobes have become less important, digital fashion offers a way for people to flaunt their style on a digital platform.
Shifting to the digital fashion space will be a tough challenge for most fashion companies, but as demand increases, so does accessibility. There are already several ways for brands to digitally display and sell their products.
Digital fashion isn’t a new concept. For years it’s been a staple of many popular video games and social media websites. However, the preparation for the Metaverse has expanded digital fashion into the mainstream.
The Metaverse will give everyone their own customisable avatars that perform digital jobs and attend digital events. This busy virtual lifestyle requires different clothes, and that’s where fashion companies can get involved. Many believe that digital fashion could take over people’s need for real clothing as silly things like psychics and reality no longer bind designers.
There are few examples of three letters creating as much discourse as NFTs have. Emerging from the cryptocurrency boom, NFTs are quickly taking over the art space. Love them or hate them; they’re a big business opportunity right now.
Karl Lagerfeld has seen great success with its NFT rollout. Each limited drop has sold out within seconds, proving that the fashion industry can experience lucrative results from NFTs.
It will surprise no one to learn that video game sales experienced a massive boost during the pandemic. Extended periods of being forced to stay home left many with little else to do but level up their favourite characters and hone their gaming skills.
This presents another opportunity for the fashion industry.
“Skins” have been big business in gaming for many years. The ability to customise a player’s character has led to enormous profits for gaming companies such as Epic Games. Their key title Fortnite made a staggering $50 million from one set of skins.
While most apparel SMBs won’t be working with Fortnite, there’s still plenty of opportunity in the gaming industry. Working with game developers is a great marketing opportunity for fashion brands. Not only can digital sales increase a brand’s bottom line, but it also allows you to advertise to a market of nearly 45 million people in the UK alone.
New trends require new solutions.
To ensure you don’t get left behind, you need an inventory management system that supports your business and adapts to your needs. Workhorse can provide just that.
Our configurable software platform is designed to help small businesses with inventory and order management. The entire platform is composable and module-based, so users can take what they need and leave the rest.