The year that recently ended did not trigger the general upturn that everyone was hoping for. And the changes faced by the fashion & luxury industry seem (still) more contingent than structural. Given that 2021 was not what it should have been, what will happen in 2022?
There was 2020, which will, unfortunately, be remembered in the history books, and it is pointless to explain why. Then came 2021, which for a certain period of time (almost) gave the illusion that things could regain certain, different normality. But Omicron got in the way and so much for that. So, in the fashion and luxury industry (as in any other, for that matter) so much should have changed, but perhaps it didn’t, because everything is still the victim of an emergency fickleness that blurs the horizon. Brands and the supply chain have adapted to the critical situation, while waiting for the desired, as yet undecipherable, restart to make various projects structural. What should have been 2021, in short, was not, and now we are waiting for what will hopefully be 2022.
What should have been 2021
Let’s take the fashion and its representations. In other words, fashion shows. As NSS Magazine writes, its calendar “has only been partly rethought. Fashion has tried to rethink its priorities, finding new ways to entertain the public. The Balenciaga show and the collaboration with The Simpsons was good example of this process. This shows how the cross-media lever has strengthened its dynamics, progressively relegating to a corner that calls for a creative and productive slowdown invoked in 2020 by Giorgio Armani.
A call to which many adhered (in words), returning as soon as possible (in deeds) to spread out collections, defining them in new ways and manners. The “collaborations” factor, which we write about here, is an obvious example. The fashion of upcycling has undoubtedly exploded (as if it were an incredible novelty…), but this is what it seems to be: a fashion, a must or a startup business, not a business macro-model.
Hypervirtuality and fast fashion
There has been, in 2021, a boom in this much-discussed Metaverse into which (more or less) everyone is jumping, to the point where some are selling real estate or getting married in it. While superficially this hyper-virtuality might bring back memories of the Second Life bubble, from another perspective the value of luxury investments, including NFTs, calls for reflection in light of the knowledge that the question is always the same: will it last? Because, on closer inspection, it could be that it ends up like the many, educated predictions about the ruinous decline of fast fashion caused by very critical consumption in this new era opened by Covid. Well, it hasn’t. As NSS Magazine reminds us, “a study published by McKinsey in May 2021 showed that around 90% of what is produced is put aside”. In short, everything has changed, but nothing is different.
What will hopefully be 2022
Let us open ourselves up to hope here. Let us try to imagine what 2022 will be like. We do so by adopting the forecasts of Erwan Rambourg, one of the most authoritative luxury analysts. According to him, the pandemic crisis was a wake-up call for brands on several issues where they were lagging behind. For example online sales, local customer service, and environmental, social, and governance issues. In these areas, things would really change, to the point that 2022 could be a record year for luxury.
Perhaps the first of a decade, Rambourg ventures, thanks to the boost from female, Asian (particularly Chinese) buyers made their first approach to designer labels. “Luxury in 2022 should be both locavores and omnivorous. Locavore (as in local, ed) in the sense that the sector’s main clientele, Asians, has few opportunities to travel back to Europe or the United States.
Consumption should therefore remain predominantly local, at least until the end of 2022. Omnivorous in the sense that luxury should continue the consolidation of the big players. 2022, the Year of the Tiger,” concludes Rambourg, “should prove to be even more roaring with sales, margins and optimism. Luxury will go faster, higher, stronger, together”.
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