Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Patsy Perry guest contributer talks about the Drapers Fashion Summit
Patsy Perry, Deputy Programme Director of the MSc International Fashion Marketing, attended the Drapers Fashion Summit 2010 conference in London on 16-17 November. The conference kicked off with a keynote presentation from Carl McPhail, CEO of UK fast fashion retailer New Look, and moved on to a series of presentations and discussion panels with some of the UK fashion industry’s most influential and key personalities. In terms of the consumer angle, the main focus was on how the fashion industry can harness new technologies of the digital revolution to drive growth and capture the hearts and minds of consumers in a sector beleaguered by downward price pressure. Although internet sales of electronics and books have recently plateaued, fashion e-commerce is a big growth sector and is set to increase by 350% over the next 10 years. Multi-channel retailing enables retailers to capture tech-savvy, time-poor customers and with the advent of ‘click-and-collect’ services, also generates extra revenue by driving halo sales in store. Mobile internet use is set to eclipse desktop commerce within the next 5 years, and innovation is driven by the Middle East, the Far East and Sub-Saharan Africa, due to their lack of fixed line infrastructure. The 3G smartphone era has led to a shift in consumer behaviour – a new breed of ‘always online’ consumers that want 24/7 choice and access irrespective of the platform they are interacting from. In terms of sourcing, after a decade of price deflation, 2010 saw the culmination of many adverse factors which increased costs and uncertainty of global apparel sourcing. The evolution of China from a production economy to a consumption economy has led to a reduction in factory capacity: while China used to export 80% of its cotton output, in 2010 60% was used for domestic consumption. Therefore price and quality factors have now been overtaken by buyer concern for capacity. Furthermore, the ‘Foxconn effect’ and concern over global sourcing ethics has led to the doubling of the basic wage in China, which has had a knock-on effect in the garment industry as well as pushing up prices in neighbouring countries. Finally, in terms of graduate employability and the question of how can the fashion industry employ more graduate talent from UK universities, the overriding message was that there is a need for intelligent, professional people who can contribute to the industry. However, universities teaching vocational subjects such as fashion (whether design or marketing) need to make sure they are up to speed with new developments in the industry, whether that is multi-channel retailing, social media marketing or global sourcing trends, so that graduates entering industry are able to hit the ground running. It would appear that there is great value in fostering university-industry linkages for vocational degree programmes in particular, whether that is achieved through industry visits, guest speakers, work placements or work shadowing opportunities.
Posted by Mark Timmins at Tuesday, December 07, 2010