London-based tech company Edited helps retailers make sense of big data, using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to inform better decisions across buying and pricing. Diesel, Boohoo, Topshop, J. Crew, Puma, Levi's, PrettyLittleThing and Boden are among its current roster of clients. We sat down with Grace Hill, Edited’s Director of Retail Strategy EMEA, in London to talk trends and consumer preference shifts.
How does Edited’s service work in a nutshell?
Edited gives access to a huge wealth of data across the fashion spectrum, from budget through to luxury. Not only are retailers able to check in detail what the competition is up to, but they’ll also get to see what’s happening at the more aspirational end of the market, which is interesting from a trend-perspective in particular. You can use Edited to really dig into niche areas, such as, say – the composition of men’s jeans, which in recent years has developed from 100% cotton to an increasing percentage of Elastane.
How can retailers go about identifying new trends themselves?
The fact that trend-spotting has moved beyond the catwalk is not new. Aside from looking at runway trends, retailers should monitor what’s happening on social media, finding out what retailers are standing by and shouting about in their feeds and communication in general. If you see aspirational brands pushing a particular style, and this is being adopted by the bigger fast fashion players, then it’s likely to be an emerging hit. A good way of finding out what sells well is to look at the styles with the most number of options available – this indicates that the trend trial has resonated with consumers.
And what trends would you say are emerging at the moment–particularly across the field of denim?
One of the biggest shifts that’s taken place is the broadening variety of fits made available to give consumers a better choice. The skinny is still going strong, most likely due to its undeniable comfort factor. Alongside this, looser leg fits are coming through, and the denim culotte is evidently an increasingly important part of the female consumer’s wardrobe.
What about the high-rise waist? Some trend forecasters predict the return of the low-slung, hanging-on-the-hip fit. Has this made a mark yet?
I would be surprised from a commercial standpoint if a significant portion of jeans would shift to low-rise – I see it as more of a trend-flavor within retailers’ wider assortments. In terms of big sales volume – customers continue to gravitate towards mid and high-rise waists.
What about sustainability–looking at the latest data, how concerned is the general consumer, and how have denim retailers and brands responded?
Sustainability is becoming a crucial topic for fashion retailers, especially for categories like denim, which has such a huge impact on the environment. In the UK alone, awareness was raised dramatically among consumers following investigative journalist Stacey Dooley’s BBC documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. We’ve analyzed denim in the UK market described by retailers as fair-trade, recyclable or containing organic and sustainable materials in their composition, and looking at product currently retailing (mid February 2019), we’ve seen a 63% increase year on year of sustainable denim across menswear, womenswear and kidswear.
How would you break down these sales – any particular winners, also in terms of brands at the forefront of green efforts?
While the majority of this growth is attributed to bottom-of-the-body products (jeans, skirts, shorts), there has been an uptick of 37% in outerwear from 2018. The key players in this market include Nudie Jeans, G-Star, Weekday, Stella McCartney and ASOS Design. 51% of sustainable denim sits within womenswear and 44% is menswear, while kidswear accounts for only 5%. This flags an opportunity for retailers as demand for sustainable fashion is increasing especially within millennials. Parents within this demographic will be looking to shop eco-friendly options for their children as well as themselves.
Have you noticed any interesting shifts in the dynamic between offline and online in terms of buying?
In the past, the consensus was that consumers shopped online mainly to stock up on basics. This is no longer the case; interestingly, we’ve noticed that a lot of our retail clients sell some of their craziest looks online. This is partly because they’re able to show these outfits styled in different ways – a very important part of the online purchase-process – using still life photography and video alike.