The uncertainty of COVID-19 has impacted the fashion industry in ways that will continue to accelerate transformation and drive innovation as retailers adjust to what’s next.

What are the emerging trends and challenges facing retailers as they are finding new ways of doing business? In Apparel 2025: What new business models will emerge? Deloitte’s Jean-Emmanuel Biondi, Paul Reiner, Karla Martin, Drew Klein, and Kerri Sapp offer compelling findings identifying and analyzing the most viable scenarios that will affect the global apparel industry and how to create strategies for success.

A tale of two trends: Customized apparel and alternative commerce models

  • Trend 1: Customized clothing (think monograms, tailoring, and personal shopping services) has long been popular, but newer technology is allowing customers to modify nearly every aspect of a piece of clothing. With ongoing health concerns limiting in-person shopping and a desire to increase inventory productivity, retailers could fully embrace customizable apparel in the near future.
  • Trend 2: Alternative commerce models for buying and using apparel have emerged, including curated subscription services, renting or purchasing used clothing, and buying directly on social media, all of which are becoming more appealing to trendy shoppers with limited disposable income.

Here’s what we’re seeing

If either of these trends become mainstream—depending on how each is adopted—one of four scenarios will likely emerge: continued trajectory, one-of-a-kind product, widespread usage options, and ultimate consumer choice:

apparel trend possibilities

Moving your retail forward

What do these global trends and possible scenarios mean for the apparel industry? The bottom line is that it’s crucial that companies consider a new way of thinking about the future and what are the most likely scenarios.

As more data begins to become available, companies can stay ahead of the curve by gathering insights and continuously asking questions like:

  • What do our customers’ behaviors suggest about their future preferences and needs?
  • How will my business need to operate differently in the likely future scenarios? 
  • Which road signs are most important for us to monitor? 
  • How can we best stay on top of these?

Looking ahead can help the retail industry craft savvy strategies for building the capabilities needed to succeed in the future landscape.

Learn more about the future of apparel and the potential implications.

Jean-Emmanuel Biondi is a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, servicing North American and European multi-channel and multi-brand retailers in the areas of strategic planning and enterprise transformation.

Paul Reiner is a managing director at Deloitte Consulting LLP. He has worked for over 25 years as an executive in, and consultant to, global retail and consumer product companies.

Karla Martin leads Deloitte’s Fashion Apparel and Footwear practice, with over 25 years of experience with consumer products clients and across retail value operations.