After two years of pandemic, how have high fashion and luxury fared?
N.D.: 2022 was a very positive year for the fashion industry; indeed, the first semester saw 25% growth in turnover, the highest for the last 20 years. This growth is mainly driven by exports, especially to the United States and South Korea. Expectations for the third and fourth quarters are very uncertain, mainly due to the conflict in Ukraine, rising energy prices and the commodities crisis. However, this uncertainty is by no means slowing the sector’s renewal, especially as concerns sustainability and technology.
Meantime, fashion moves on: what direction is it taking and through which channels?
N.D.: In general, the pandemic would appear to have accelerated certain aspects of the sector’s development. Our Observatory has divided these into three main categories: on the one hand, increased attention to the theme of sustainability, on the other, the technological evolution of brands and the search for new voices to communicate companies’ values.
As regards sustainability, the lead was given by the European Commission, which set 2030 as the deadline for transition towards abandoning Fast Fashion to embrace a more sustainable and circular model; in this connection, we have seen the birth of Recommerce platforms on the market – that is, recycling and resale of clothing – and ever more brands are now interested in this market slice.
And how does the Metaverse intersect with high fashion?
N.D.: High fashion, by its very nature, is one of the sectors most prone to innovation and that is why it was one of the first industries to take off on the Metaverse, if only because dressing is one of the first needs of virtual avatars. Video gamers represent the most involved audience. It is no coincidence that these platforms – including Roblox and Fortnite – are the ones that were the first to be contacted by brands and numerous collaborations have been set up.
Is there a focus on a different public to that traditionally interested in high fashion?
N.D.: Yes, more and more the fashion world is looking for value communities and therefore new voices, new influencers, far removed from those to which we were accustomed. Communities and people closer to values and commitment, farther away from lifestyle and pure commerce.
And where do podcasts come into it?
N.D.: Brands now need to be able to talk about themselves. No longer are they simply a salesplace; they need channels through which to talk about their tradition, their history and their values. More and more, they are a community that considers its customers less as buyers and more as a source of brand testimonials.