It’s hard out there for a fashion brand.
First, there’s the changing consumer that we keep hearing about—especially the discerning millennial shopper flipping the script on the kinds of products she wants, and how she wants to buy them. She’s always on her smartphone, scrolling through Instagram, inspired by the style of an endless array of bloggers showing off seemingly infinite wardrobes. Brand marketing isn’t quite as effective with this consumer as it would have been even a decade ago.
Then, there’s the topsy-turvy retail market itself. New direct-to-consumer brands are muscling in on turf long dominated by veteran brick-and-mortar department and specialty store chains that have been shuttering shops by the thousands. There’s the hand-wringing over the future of the physical store and what a shopping experience could and should be.
On top of that, sustainability is taking its place at the table in conversations about how brands should be designing products, transporting them through the global supply, building eco-friendly stores and more. Though corporate social responsibility in apparel once could have been seen largely as greenwashing, companies across the fashion spectrum are making concerted efforts to pivot toward a far more conscious future.
Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, who cut his teeth consulting for luxury powerhouses including LVMH, Kering and Chanel, believes fashion brands searching for the way forward sometimes don’t know where to begin and could benefit from expert guidance, both on the brand and provider sides. He launched the ReMode conference, taking place this November 13-14 in Los Angeles, to address the modern needs of a fashion industry in transition.
Today’s fashion brands face increasing complexity in adapting to an evolving market and discriminating customer, Hurstel said. ReMode will explore just how much the new ways of consuming and experiencing fashion—including areas like personalization and transparency—have impacted the way that brands operate. Not just the way they sell products, Hurstel explained, but how they can regain control of their relationship with customers.
The inaugural ReMode conference is divided into four content pillars. ReThink is centered around consumer insights and innovative tech driving new experiences. At ReMarket, attendees will learn about marketing, sales and retail strategies that will lay the foundation for success across the myriad channels and touchpoints that inform today’s non-linear path to purchase. How to attract venture funding, creative approaches to financing and more shape the ReInvest track.
ReMake, the fourth content pillar, will explore the latest ideas and developments in wearables and fashion tech, sustainability and smarter product development. Sessions in this track will take a deep dive into how textiles and technology intersect, for example, and ways to “green” both packaging materials and the shipping factor in the supply chain, featuring speakers from Hanesbrands, Project Jacquard, Adriano Goldschmied, Fashion Revolution, Wearable X, Dropel and Le Souk.
Hurstel said sustainability is becoming a necessity in the apparel sector because leaders ranging from fast-fashion to luxury—including H&M and Kering—are making serious investments in modernizing their operations to address not only a fragile climate but also the industry’s shameful reputation as one of the planet’s worse polluters. Plus, he added, there’s a push from shoppers themselves to make better-quality goods that last longer, and brands like Everlane are moving forward with “radically transparent products” at prices affordable to a large group of consumers. The pressure is on for all brands, regardless of size or demographics, to step up and acknowledge that business as usual simply cannot continue. “Fashion brands are waking up to this,” Hurstel said.
The lineup of sessions and speakers at the ReMake track will be accompanied by a pavilion showcasing industry-leading suppliers of innovation and sustainability solutions. The pavilion will feature Le Souk, whose digital marketplace connects brands with mills and tanneries. Attendees can also receive a demo of Google x Levi’s Project Jacquard, the “first full-scale digital platform for smart clothing,” Hurstel said. On display will be EUVEKA, a new type of software-controlled mannequin that can rapidly morph into new measurements, enabling designers to use a single form for multiple body types and shapes. Others in the pavilion include ERP and PLM providers such as Centric Software, innovators like 19th Amendment, and sourcing experts like Sourcemap.
Overall, the goal of the ReMode event is to remind fashion brands that when it comes to sustainability, “they have to start somewhere,” Hurstel said. “They don’t have to be the best right way.”
If attendees walk away with a better understanding of what it takes to embrace sustainability and what efforts they can undertake to secure some “quick wins,” Hurstel considers that a great jumping off point. In bringing together thought leaders and solutions providers, ReMode strives to help brands build a relevant strategy that can position them for future, sustained success.
“It’s good to have an ethical mindset, but how do you execute?” Hurstel said. “What used to be just an interesting idea now is possible, thanks to technology.”