Among the industries being most disrupted by COVID, demographic shifts, the rise of convergent commerce – and yes, supply chain disruption – is the fashion industry. Add the rise of Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter influencers, and digitization of both shopping experiences and products, and it’s never been more important for brands to both track (and create!) new social trends and experiences.

Beyond just social listening, brands need a plan to understand what their audience is really saying, spot patterns – and new ideas for innovative products – and anticipate what will happen next. They need to plug into critical emotions and brand associations, and be aware of how messages are viewed in different communities or even platforms like the metaverse.

Below are three areas where social data and an AI-enabled consumer intelligence platform can help fashion brands stay on trend.

Aligning With Social Values

The most successful brands today are those that acknowledge their role as much more than simply offering a product. In light of more consumers (seven in ten globally) saying they tend to buy brands that reflect their personal values, it’s no surprise that fashion brands are often at the crossroads of issues like social justice, inclusiveness, and even the human rights, salaries, and welfare of their workers.

Often social media is the channel where the next fashion statements are explored. But it’s also where messages are debated, corporate policies are lauded or lampooned, and the next emerging or alarming trends are discovered. Some example topics we’ve explored using our Topic Modeling tool include negative sentiment about cultural appropriation (think Kim Kardashian’s “Kimono” clothing line that later became “Skims” due to backlash online), as well as positive embraces of size and gender inclusivity (think Rihanna’s underwear and lingerie brand Savage X Fenty).

Promoting Sustainability – and Finding the Next Trend

As the effects of climate change are becoming more visible, consumers are demanding change from their favorite brands and fashion houses. Over the years, the sustainable fashion has become one of the crucial themes in the industry.

From revelations about certain brands burning their clothes, to luxury brands going fur-free, often the seeds of boycotts or expressions of support start on social. The brands that spot these trends earlier, and build in social intelligence into their VOC, branding, and product innovation efforts have a leg up. We see this with forward-looking companies like Patagonia, Levi’s, Stella McCartney, and Anita Dongre which are in-tune with their consumers, and are responding with greener choices from using recycled ocean plastic to reducing carbon emissions in their supply chain.

When we analyze the online conversations about fashion and sustainability using our Topic Modeling tool, it’s interesting to see topic clusters not only around recycling, or alternative materials, but also certain brands that are being called out for their production methods or approaches are more/less sustainable.


Preparing for New Digital Frontiers

The rise of digital experiences and environments such as the metaverse, along with digital items like NFTs have changed the ways that fashion houses will operate and function. This shift into the digital world has created unexpected and unconventional collaborations between fashion brands and gaming companies, such as The Fornite x Balenciaga or Gucci and Roblox collaborations.

Many of the industry’s leading fashion brands have been increasingly engaging with NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, as gaming and digital fashion have come to the forefront. Brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Burberry have already got a piece from the pie. As digital fashion becomes more and more popular it is very important for insights and marketing professionals to follow industry trend setters and see how digital properties evolve. It is still early days, as our friends at Forrester have noted, but not too early for fashion-forward brands to offer virtual sneakers, test market in-game boutiques, and even grab “real” estate for their next metaverse mall.

So, what does the future hold? No doubt fads will come and go, but consumers will be even more plugged in to what their brands represent. Monitoring real-time consumer feedback and analyzing social data is crucial to survive in this digital-meets-analog marketplace.

Want to learn more about how you can use our AICI platform to keep up with trends and stay ahead of changes in the fashion and luxury space? Click here to set up a demo.