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Fashion brands must ‘surf the tsunami’ of new technology or face being left behind – according to a luxury industry roundtable at Think Tank: An Industrial Workshop for the Luxury Fashion Industry, held at MIP Politecnico di Milano, Italy recently.

The roundtable concluded that the immediacy of social media and picture sharing at runway events means that a six month retail availability delay is no longer viable for fashion brands.

Alessandro Brun, director of the Master in Global Luxury Management at MIP Politecnico di Milano, says, “The entire fashion industry is about to be reconfigured. Social media is transforming the world of luxury into an open-access arena. Trends like the rise of the ‘see now, buy now’ business model, where fashion items are immediately put on sale after runway shows, are creating new types of product, design and consumer. If fashion companies don’t embrace this change, they will struggle.”

The panel, led by Professor José Teunissen from the London College of Fashion, found that with a sharp fall in conspicuous consumerism, successful luxury brand management now relies on creating a synergy between the customer and the product.

Brun adds, “In the fashion sector, the concept of the designer as an artist is outdated and through the use of online technology, the customer is coming closer to brands than ever before. In a recent campaign, Nike used 3D technology to reduce prototypes not only resulting in huge savings and reduced impact on the environment - this increased the company’s performances by shortening development times and enhancing merchandising decision-making. Innovation such as this will lead the way in the future of fashion.”

The panel also agreed that this means companies will have to change the way they operate.

“The effects of this shift on things such as supply chain operations remain unclear” says Brun. “But what is clear is that the businesses that introduce innovative production processes to fill demand more efficiently will emerge as the industry leaders in the coming years.”

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