The Coresight Research team attended MAGIC Las Vegas 2018, one of the most comprehensive trade shows covering men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, accessories and footwear, held August 12–15. Here are our key takeaways from the event:
- “Purchase-activated fulfilment” is the next generation of manufacturing.
- Microfactories are not just for on-demand production; they are being used in the sample room.
- Alibaba.com, the company’s B2B platform, helps individuals to find and source products globally, at all price ranges.
- The footwear market has returned to growth, fueled by the “sport leisure” and “fashion” categories.
- Innovative alternative materials are driving footwear designs.
The Coresight Research team attended MAGIC Las Vegas 2018, one of the most comprehensive trade shows covering men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, accessories and footwear. The event also features education programs where industry experts share insights and information on global industry trends in topic areas including manufacturing, sourcing, branding, technology and sustainability.
Our team attended sessions led by industry experts and met brand owners to discover the newest trends and products. Here are our top-ten takeaways from the event:
1. “Purchase-activated fulfilment” is the next generation of manufacturing. On the panel, “Innovations: Movers and Shakers: The Endless Aisle Concept for Fashion,” Bill Grier, CEO/CTO, Apparel Made For You (AM4U, Inc.), a California-based company that is pairing the disruptive technologies of purchase-activated and demand manufacturing, asked, “Why don’t we sell first, then build? That way we can create products that people want.” Grier created a virtual endless aisle where consumers can take advantage of virtual inventory. Grier designed the virtual aisle concept as a temporary opportunity for a retailer around a themed event, such as back to school, for example. An endless aisle can be built in 15 minutes. Grier said that a warehouse of 100,000 square feet of inventory will fit on 1 terabyte of data to showcase in a virtual showroom. Grier suggested that this takes the guesswork out of what customers want and will help to eliminate overproducing. It also promotes better designs.
2. Microfactories are not just for on-demand production, they are being used in the sample room. Microfactories are expanding beyond the on-demand format that most people associate them with, and brands and designers are using them as part of sample rooms or even for small production runs. The microfactory allows for full-service pattern layout, printing, cutting and sewing, all in one small designated area.
3. Alibaba.com, Alibaba’s business-to-business (B2B) platform, helps individuals to find and source products globally, at all price ranges. The platform currently has over 10 million active buyers from over 200 countries. Sara Ma, Global Marketing Director, Alibaba.com, presented at “Global Trends, Fashion & Apparel Industry,” a session on how Alibaba is connecting businesses on its B2B platform, Alibaba.com. Ma presented an overview of Alibaba.com, a global cross-border marketplace platform whose roots are in sourcing and helping small and medium-sized entrepreneurs to find companies and manufacturers. Today, Ma said that Alibaba’s mission is still the same as when the company was first founded, and that sourcing remains the company’s heritage. However, many consumers may not be aware of its Alibaba.com services, as they are more familiar with its customer-facing businesses Tmall and Taobao. Alibaba.com’s platform aims to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to find and source products that they are looking for, within a price range that is manageable. Ma said that one of the main goals of Alibaba.com is to alleviate the friction points that individuals have when they are trying to find products, and to provide opportunities and choices for individuals when they are looking for products by removing global barriers and price barriers. The ultimate goal is for individuals to be able to buy, build, create and launch their own brands or businesses. Alibaba.com has over 10 million active buyers spanning 40 major categories in over 200 countries and regions.
4. The footwear market has returned to growth, fueled by the “sport leisure” and “fashion” categories. In the “Mid-year Market Review: Five Themes Defining Footwear & Beyond” in 2018,” Beth Goldstein, Executive Director and Industry Analyst, NPD Group, said the total footwear market has reached a new peak in annual dollar volume of $70.7 billion, as of June, 2018, and is growing at 4% year over year compared to the prior year. All footwear categories are more positive than last year, and the two categories comprising the most growth include “sport leisure,” which includes sneakers, and “fashion.”
5. Innovative alternative materials are driving footwear designs. In the “Mid-year Market Review: Five Themes Defining Footwear & Beyond in 2018,” Beth Goldstein, Executive Director and Industry Analyst, NPD Group, said that the pace of innovation is picking up in footwear, and that footwear brands are using alternative materials to drive innovation. For example, startups are testing mushroom fibers and food waste to produce wearable fibers.
6. Department stores and brands will become entertainment creators, and create movies and TV shows with their own fashions as part of the shows. Keith Hoover, President, Black Swan Textiles, a panelist on “Innovations: Movers and Shakers: The Endless Aisle Concept for Fashion,” said that apparel companies and department stores used to be a source of entertainment. “Bloomingdales used to be the most entertaining place to go because it was unlike any other place you could shop.” Today, clothes shopping has become somewhat like grocery shopping, and the process has become mundane and routine, and and-commerce has cataloged the process and has further taken the fun out of it, he said. Hoover predicts that department stores and brands will get involved in creating content for TV shows and movies, and the fashions will be included in the shows. This will go beyond just product placement, but will be the next generation of retail—where stores are in the entertainment business.
7. In order for brands or retailers to adopt digital technology, they will have to feel some pain first. Participants on the panel, “Innovations: Movers and Shakers: The Endless Aisle Concept for Fashion,” agreed that the apparel industry has not seen any significant change or advancement, like most other industries, and that when it comes, the change will be dramatic, comparing it to the invention of the car in terms of how profound the change will be. Panelist, Bill Grier, CEO/CTO, AM4U, said that brands will not adopt the technology until they feel the pain in terms of the bottom line, because right now, unless there is an impetus to change, most brands are too concerned about trying to meet deadlines.
8. Alibaba launched “Source Now” on Alibaba.com as a way for individuals to quickly locate product suppliers by simply uploading a photograph. Sara Ma, Director of Marketing, Alibaba.com, presented Alibaba’s, “Source Now,” a platform where users can take a photo of any item that they are interested in, and using the Alibaba.com app, are able to immediately see the manufacturers that are available to source the item. Ma demonstrated the ease of use on stage. A member of the audience took a photo of a dress, and Source Now provided a list of available suppliers. The technology is available today, and the search capability can be used with any item. The Alibaba.com app also provides language translation for suppliers and merchants if necessary. The app also features a financing option, offering the ability to “buy now, pay later,” with up to $150,000 in credit financing.
9. The fanny pack, which gained popularity in the 1990s, is back on trend. The fanny pack was seen styled at MAGIC and worn through belt loops, across the body and was also available in higher-end textures and lower-end styles. The infamous fanny pack, the fabric zipper pouch secured with a zipper and worn around the hips or waist, was seen everywhere at MAGIC. Contemporary apparel brand CELLO was giving away its soft acid-washed fanny pack with a wide nylon belt and oversized click closure. Conference participants were seen sporting and styling CELLO’S fanny pack in various ways—with the belt worn through the belt loops, worn traditionally around the waist, carried as a purse over the shoulder and even worn over the chest (as shown below.) British fashion brand Ted Baker showed its high-end fanny pack belt worn atop a silk dress. Sales associates at “On the Twelfth” wore holographic metallic fanny packs in their exhibit booth. The trend was everywhere!
10. Reducing production lead time through digital garment development was a hot topic throughout the MAGIC trade show. Sourcing at MAGIC provided opportunities for brands and retailers to see advances in digital design and development. Sourcing at MAGIC hosted a microfactory on the exhibit floor that demonstrated the capabilities of producing a knit garment, from design to production. Digital Apparel Micro Factories can create apparel on-demand and in a short period of time. The technology on display at MAGIC included machinery from EFI, Optitex, EFI Reggianni, Klieverik, Zund and Eton System.
Tukatech, founded in 1995 by Ram Sareen, offers a suite of apparel technology solutions, including 2D pattern design software, automated marker making software, garment plotters, spreaders and cutters. The company has over 650 digital avatars that are real avatars’ bodies. Brands and retailers were able to stop by the company’s booth and see its 3D body scanning technology as well as the digital design process in motion. Additionally, there were emerging companies, such as Polyrendr, at MAGIC. Polyrendr has offices in California and China, and is a virtual showroom connecting buyers and brands. All of the solutions are digital; the company only needs a tech pack to create the virtual showroom. The brand, Frilly, is currently using the brand’s technology.