When it comes to 2021 predictions for the fashion industry Flora Davidson says: “There is no doubt 2020 was an unusual year – the myriad of Covid-related challenges has made it an exhausting and unpredictable time for many in the fashion industry. What is clear for 2021 is that the fashion industry and supply chains can’t continue to operate in the way they were able to before”.
The Co-Founder of SupplyCompass continues: “This is the year that the industry will be forced to change – to look ahead and make real progress towards circularity and digitalisation of processes. Those who resist change and wait for the ‘return to normal’ may risk not being around long enough to see it. What has been a positive shift during this past year is we’ve seen a greater appetite for experimentation and trialling of new things”.
Focusing on “taking the headache out of managing production and making it easier for brands and their manufacturers to work faster and more effectively together“, Davidson predictions are centred on working smarter, with a particular emphasis on improving and streamlining communication and collaboration. Davidson explains: “My bets are on a significant growth in the adoption of fashion-specific cloud-based SaaS. For example, cross-functional workflow tools to drive collaboration and efficiencies, tools driving greater supply chain traceability and transparency, and software that will enable brands to achieve shorter lead times and greater agility”.
On a mission to transform the fashion industry, by making sustainable sourcing and production easy and cost-effective for brands and every player in the value chain, Davidson’s three predictions for 2021 are:
PREDICTION 1: The rise of fashion-specific collaboration and communication tools
Working from home seems here to stay, and teams are increasingly working remotely from anywhere in the world. The stratospheric growth of cloud-based communication and project management tools like Slack, Zoom, and Click-Up are indicators of a shift in how teams successfully operate and communicate remotely. 2020 spotlights the challenges of the typically informal communication methods and manual product development and production process across the fashion industry. Many ways of working relied heavily on being together in person. As businesses have realised the importance of effective and streamlined communication, I predict a key trend in 2021 will be the adoption of fashion and supply chain specific communication and workflow tools.
PREDICTION 2: Working smarter
Many fashion brands have had to scale back on resources while operating at the same level (if not harder). This means many teams are burnt out. 2021 will be about working smarter and empowering teams to do more with less. I predict we’ll see a rise in fashion teams implementing fashion-specific workflow tools to support more efficient ways of working if they’re continuing to operate at a high level. Why fashion and production-specific? Because there are documents, structured processes and approvals that need to be tracked and recorded, which can’t be done effectively on zoom, Slack, WhatsApp or email.
PREDICTION 3: Tech to drive more significant human connection between brands and their suppliers
With global travel continuing to be difficult this year, fashion brands will continue to be unable to visit their factories in person. This could be a challenge for businesses, as strong supplier relationships are foundational to supply chains’ success. A company must continue investing in existing manufacturer and supply chain relationships, working collaboratively with them to find better, more effective operating methods – like implementing new tools together with partners. This year I predict teams will use more video calls, voice notes, and emojis to facilitate closer human connections; without these tools, the brand/supplier partnership can risk becoming a more transactional relationship without meeting face-to-face. Already last year, we saw brands and factories do video tours of their factories and live zoom feedback sessions.