Last but not least: during the fourth ’Masterclass’ session presented by Denim PV and SPORTSWEAR INTERNATIONAL product innovation and how to respond to consumer expectations was in the focus of the conversation.
On stage, denim expert Fabio Adami Dalla Val, head of R&D at M&J Group and formerly at Denim companies such as Freshtex and Itaclab, talked very bluntly about what has to happen in the industry.
Here is the essence of his views on...
"It's hard to say if in the future consumers will spend more on luxury items or on mass market products. So far, at least in Europe and North America, apparel is dominated by the idea of wearing the 'right' look, no matter to what expense of the environment or society. This behavior needs to change."
"Currently we count about 7 billion people on earth. Around 2 billion of them are able to consume. So what will happen if in about ten or twenty years the rest will also be enabled to consume in that same way we do and requests jeans for low prices? In terms of pollution and resources it will be dramatic, so we need to find a solution."
"I see three main groups of consumers worldwide: there are the ones in developing countries that appreciate and long for brands and if possible want to buy them to show they can afford it; then in the Western world there is a majority that puts the price on top, which will for sure last another 10 to 20 years; and then you have the ones that are looking for long-lasting products. Obviously, the latter will not cause problems in terms of environmental matters."
"Customization will for sure be a topic for consumers but not in the sense of going into a store and choosing a different rivet or back pocket stitching. Instead, we have to get used to the idea that the buying experience will completely change - not only because of new technical devices but also because of the factors behind. For example, voice control will become much more important, the same goes for data and the increasing access to get information. In the end, there will stand a consumer who will make his own product."
"The only way to cope with the rising demand of product is to increase efficiency. In the last 50 years, basically nothing has changed in the way we produce and sell apparel, it's still the same business model. Imagine! It's absolutely due to think over processes in the fashion industry to create higher efficiency."
"It's the brands that decide if sustainable products will become standard. They need to start and then consumers will follow. The best example is sandblasting: from one day to another two world leading denim and apparel brands stopped buying sandblasted jeans, and that was basically it - sandblasting was banned. The same could work for the use of Permanganate-it kills people, but it's still in use, even though there could be alternatives. Why is it still in use? Because the brands don't want to spend more on alternatives. Denim producers already offer sustainable products, consumers are also ready for that offer, but the brands are not."
"There is often the aspect that consumers might not want to spend more on a sustainable product. The thing is: don't ask the consumer to pay more. Why can't we cut margins within the whole value chain, mainly on the wholesale level? It's overdue the business model in fashion is redesigned. Is the value chain ready for that? Well, it has to be, we cannot waste any more time."
"We don't need more regulation by governments to make sure eco and social standards are respected. What it needs is the top ten fashion players in the world to agree on one common standard in sustainable and fair production. They have more power than any government."