Did we get it all wrong, could DIY fashion, and not digital fashion, be the future?

By Alma Fabiani

May 6, 2020

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Previously, I’ve been the first one to claim the many positives of digital fashion. From its minor impact on climate change to the many ways it could help reduce clothing waste, digital fashion has always been the number one saviour for the fashion industry and therefore, in my mind, the future of fashion.

While not everyone stuck at home has been delving into the crafty world of do-it-yourself (DIY) fashion, new gens certainly have. Could DIY fashion, and not digital fashion, be the future of the fashion industry?

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on the fashion industry. Designers and big fashion brands have been forced to rethink their whole production strategy, and some have struggled to quickly adapt to this new normal. But the situation has also proved to be a new source of creativity.

As Lucy Maguire explained in With Gen Z under lockdown, DIY fashion takes off for Vogue Business, “By tapping into the creative energies of a new generation, brands can build a new kind of customer relationship with potential for the long term.” This doesn’t mean that Prada has encouraged customers to cut their own patterns and create their own iconic Prada headband, but more that brands have resorted to DIY ways in order to interact with their customers.

Instagram tutorials and challenges were marketing strategies that, until recently, were mostly used by smaller brands with minor reach. But since the coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to stay indoors, bigger companies have started using these marketing strategies, too. For example, Alexander McQueen, Dior and Ganni are three brands that encouraged their Instagram followers to participate in different crafty challenges, such as embroidery customisation, sketch or style home shoots.

New gens have clearly stated their desire for uniqueness, and what better way is there to offer it to them than by teaching them how to apply creativity to their favourite brands’ garments? Furthermore, new gens have a strong affinity for ethical brands—upcycling is something that they expect from brands.

Clearly, Dickies saw an opportunity in selling and giving away its deadstock fabrics. As Maguire wrote, this aimed “to establish connection with a burgeoning audience that, in lockdown, is looking for hobbies.” Speaking to 22-year-old Bianca, I asked her about her shopping habits and whether she values ethical brands and the message they promote: “I definitely do care and I try to shop as sustainably as I can. For instance, I tried to not shop at Amazon during quarantine and see if I could buy the things I need locally.” As for DIY fashion, Bianca shared that as much as she wished she could create on her own, she is “incapable of using my hands but did ask my mum to make me a bag from an old pillowcase.”

But what about digital fashion? Is it going out the window? While some might believe the crafty way is the only option for a sustainable future, the Institute of Coding (IoC) proved them wrong in its new three-part IG TV series. In the third episode titled How Can Digital Tech Make Fashion More Sustainable?, Karinna Nobbs, founder of A Hot Second, shares her experience with tackling the issue of the lack of sustainability in the fashion industry and how tech can be a solution.

Screen Shot spoke to Nobbs about digital fashion and what relief it could offer the fashion industry: “We really need to think about how we can make digital fashion more accessible to diverse and forward-thinking digital natives. They’ll no doubt be the ones at the coalface of these changes, so we need to remove some of the barriers to entry in order for it to truly progress.”

Could the COVID-19 crisis accelerate the fashion industry’s shift to digital fashion, as it has done with DIY fashion? Nobbs certainly thinks so: “100% yes, as both brands and consumers look for alternative ways to experience fashion whilst having a more minimal impact on the planet. So now more than ever is the time to encourage the next generation of fashionistas and show the various opportunities that lie in digital fashion. With COVID-19 creating an accelerated shift into digital, we’ll see an even higher demand for coders, software engineers or programmers from all backgrounds, with a specific eye for fashion.”

That being said, it is highly unlikely that DIY fashion will fully replace digital fashion. It seems that we’re entering a new era in fashion where both will coexist and create the well-needed shift the fashion industry needs.

New gens are crafting a new approach to consumption. DIY fashion lets them create and participate in the process, while also offering brands the opportunity to deal with deadstock fabrics and to appeal to the younger generation. Meanwhile, digital fashion has the potential of teaching consumers a more sustainable approach to fashion and its infinite possibilities.

“We are now seeing the rise of DIY digital fashion, which is very exciting,” shared Nobbs. What’s certain is that the future of fashion looks promising—can we just skip forward?

Did we get it all wrong, could DIY fashion, and not digital fashion, be the future?


By Alma Fabiani

May 6, 2020

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Opinion

Digitalisation is the future of fashion and it is fast

By Maddy White

Sep 5, 2018

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Fashion

Sep 5, 2018

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Social media is an extremely influential part of our everyday lives. From Instagram to Snapchat and more, today’s fashion retailers are using these online spheres to encourage ‘fast fashion’: the quickest possible turnaround from design to manufacturer to consumer. And that’s really detrimental to our waste issue, isn’t it? Actually, not necessarily. Digitalising fashion is probably a crucial step to the survival of the sector, particularly in Britain.

The British high street is in peril; more shops are closing and many brands have gone into liquidation. This is due to several reasons, one being consumer spending has decreased and another is the rise of digital giants—like Amazon—who have entirely dominated the market. This trend aligns with the fashion industry too. Founded in 2006, online fashion retailer Boohoo claimed in their 2018 financial report to have 6.4 million users, up 22 percent from the previous year. The entire company had a pre-tax profit of £43.3 million for the year leading to February, which represented a 40 percent increase on 2017 figures, with revenue hitting £580 million, almost double last year’s £295 million.

The British high street is in peril; more shops are closing and many brands have gone into liquidation. This is due to several reasons, one being consumer spending has decreased and another is the rise of digital giants—like Amazon—who have entirely dominated the market. This trend aligns with the fashion industry too. Founded in 2006, online fashion retailer Boohoo claimed in their 2018 financial report to have 6.4 million users, up 22 percent from the previous year. The entire company had a pre-tax profit of £43.3 million for the year leading to February, which represented a 40 percent increase on 2017 figures, with revenue hitting £580 million, almost double last year’s £295 million.

The increased speed of fashion because of a digitalised process has enabled companies like Boohoo to reap massive benefits as proven in their financial report. Hundreds of styles are uploaded every day to the website, with likely just as many discontinued and sent to the sales page. The company reportedly sources 50 percent of its production from U.K. factories—a very high proportion, as for example ASOS produce around 3 percent of products in the U.K.—and distribute these garments from a central warehouse in Burnley. This is impressive as less than half a century ago, the clothing manufacturing industry in the U.K. employed 900,000 people, by 1999 this was down to 130,000 and now it is less than half. Companies like Boohoo are bringing textile manufacture back to the U.K. in a more innovative way.

Fast fashion also doesn’t have to mean cheap, however with examples like ASOS and Boohoo, the two seem to work in tandem. Fast fashion needs to be locally produced in order to make the production ethical, reduce air miles and at face value, be the fastest method. The process cannot be completed so quickly halfway across the globe; it is just not viable.

Despite the rise of fast fashion, this is an industry that produces waste, a lot of it, and consumers are more aware of this than ever. According to EDGE, a company that connects and supports emerging designers, about 15 percent of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor and it takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Surely though, creating products via fast fashion would only act as an antidote to the above? Retailers do not have to order products in large amounts, they can instead order smaller numbers, see how they are received and then purchase more. This is a more ethical approach to a potential overproduction problem. Yet, this doesn’t counter the idea that consumers could be ordering more clothing, therefore likely throwing them away more regularly.

Fast fashion that it ethically sourced and produced could be the U.K.’s chance to revive the textiles sector, which has been in decline for decades. There are many constraints however on implementing an ethical version of fast fashion and it is not what consumers might initially think. Fast fashion is reacting to trends, increasing production line speed, and not overproducing. ‘Fast’ could certainly be the future of fashion, as it offers huge opportunities like garments to be locally produced rather than being created and shipped from offshore sites. Utilising the internet, social media and collecting data enables a digitalisation of the fashion industry, which will only continue to grow as the high street fades and online giants soar.

Digitalisation is the future of fashion and it is fast


By Maddy White

Sep 5, 2018

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