Throughout its history, fashion has been about a particular form of self-expression and autonomy. Unique and self fulfilling, drawing from its own period, place, and context to produce an aesthetic that elucidates the present moment in such a way as to highlight what might come next, fashion is not only about style but also about identity; it provides a way for the wearer to express through their clothes who they are at any given time. It is no surprise then, that as the world transitions to an increasingly hybrid mode of digital and physical engagement and experience, the fashion industry is one of the first sectors to embrace and be embraced by this new reality. 

Web 3.0 technologies are turning the virtual experience into a more human-centric one, moving away from the static nature of Web 2.0’s UX toward a more resonant and dynamic computing fabric, one where consumers’ identities, in the form of digital avatars, are more tangible and the experiences they have are more real. As a result, the way consumers virtually dress themselves has become more important and integral to their both online experience and everyday lives, and brands and retailers are taking notice. Both established fashion houses and newer, digital-first entrants are launching virtual-only pieces, and in some cases even whole augmented reality collections. Entire runway shows are being held virtually, and a bevy of online-only marketplaces are arising to serve the digital-first expectations of this consumer set, particularly those active within the NFT and blockchain communities. 

Advances in 3D modeling and innovative software platforms are allowing today’s designers to share their assets digitally. Rather than producing physical samples or swatches and flying from say, Milan to Los Angeles, digital showrooms provide creatives with the opportunity to share and showcase their virtually developed pre-production designs before having samples produced. Workers around the world are being upskilled to meet this new set of needs. Bespoke production studios producing goods and apparel on-demand, based on real-time consumer insights and feedback, are becoming more common, as the fashion industry at-large begins to deal with the societal and climate impact of maintaining excesses of inventory. 

Additional innovations are helping to push the fashion industry into a greener future as well, from “swap don’t shop” and shared-closet platforms that aim to reduce the problems inherent with fast-fashion and over-consumption, to carbon tracking tools that give insight into the impact of supply chains, and new methods of sustainable manufacturing. 

In this report, the PSFK Research team explores the solutions, tools, and technologies supporting the digitization of the fashion industry. To help our members better understand the early stages of transition in this exciting space, PSFK has identified 7 key trends behind the fashion and apparel industry’s pivotal shift.