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Fashion’s online innovators will inspire you to push your digital designs into the future

The best brands are using personalized, authentic, multichannel activations to capture new consumers.

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Fashion has always reflected the culture at large, and that’s just as true in the time of emerging technologies. Between virtual garments, gamified shopping experiences, and artificial intelligence-powered websites, brands on the cutting edge of tech are poised to reshape the fashion world as we know it—and digital designers should take note, too.

Today, a brand’s success depends on how quickly it can keep up with all the mediums—AI, AR, VR, and web2, and web3—competing for our eyeballs and attention. Artificial intelligence and data-driven business models are helping brands offer personalized services for every shopper, enhancing the brand experience and, ultimately increasing sales. Brands are adopting omnichannel approaches—including better eCommerce experiences and unique digital activations—that are essential in capturing new audiences, especially younger shoppers.

As digital technology and the opportunities they offer continue to evolve at breakneck speed, the best brands will adapt with them. “The next generation of shoppers will be much more comfortable with making purchases via virtual engagements,” says Christie Shin, associate professor and the coordinator of creative technology & design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “Fashion brands that do not take online strategies seriously will not be a part of the future of fashion.”

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Reimagine your site’s eCommerce experience

Recent eCommerce trends echo Shin’s prediction. Online shopping isn’t new, but it's big. Six out of every ten shopping journeys begin online, according to Think with Google, an online resource of digital trends and marketing data. This is why a brand’s website requires more care and innovation than ever.

“Too often, eCommerce retailers treat their sites as a static entity—but they require innovation, consideration, and curation,” says Allegra Poschmann, design director of Pact, a creative studio that works with brands like Glossier and Nike.

Poschmann suggests up-leveling the standard ‘you may also like’ grid with a more personal ‘pairs well with’ feature, or bundling commonly purchased items together, which both cuts down user decision fatigue and maximizes average order value (AOV), adding, “quality is more important than quantity when thinking through bundling.”

Create avenues for customer connection

Glossier, the poster child for millennial pink and a DTC beauty behemoth, now sold in Sephora, was an early adopter of this customer-centric approach. Founder Emily Weiss described the strategy as “emotional commerce.” Referring to the brand’s focus on building a shopping platform that forged a strong brand identity, voice, and user trust, while limiting product choice, Weiss described it as building “a breadth of connection, and not a breadth of product.”

The brand was one of the first to introduce web features that made it easier and more intuitive to purchase products that are a tough sell online. It introduced a shade finder that helps users find the right foundation by uploading a selfie (now commonplace—Rare Beauty offers 48 shades to choose from in its shade finder).

The brand’s physical stores were oriented toward online connection, too. They weren’t just shops. They were Instagram-friendly immersive experience centers, with mirrors that read affirmations like “you look good” beckoning visitors to post their IRL experience online and create user-generated content.

Now, Glossier’s omnichannel experience has become an industry norm. Consider the jewelry brand STUDS. After a client’s first experience in one of their physical ear piercing centers (which also have mirrors with a social-ready message: “hey, stud”), the customer relationship continues online.

“After that bond is forged, clients return to the STUDS website, again and again, to purchase new jewelry seasonally, or for major milestones in their life,” says Poschmann, who worked on designing this holistic customer journey for the brand. “This type of symbiotic relationship is something I think companies will continue to model as a new era of DTC emerges.”