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Get a Glimpse of the Future: Fashion and Apparel Industry Trends for North America

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Get a Glimpse of the Future: Fashion and Apparel Industry Trends for North America

28 Nov 2023

Aptean Staff Writer
A fashionable shopper smiles confidently with her bagged purchases over her shoulder.

Staying ahead in the fashion and apparel industry requires more than just a keen eye for style. You need to know what's coming and be prepared with the right processes, systems and strategies to not only survive as a brand, but thrive.

2024 looms on the horizon, promising both challenges and opportunities for executives steering the course of North American fashion and apparel brands, but what exactly can you expect to navigate?

Here, we'll give you a glimpse of the six trends shaping the future of the industry and reveal some of the most compelling statistics from our Fashion and Apparel 2024 Trends and Outlook for North America research. You can also download the full report to get an up-close look at the findings.

Trend No. 1: Anticipating Growth, Brands Leverage Automation To Scale Efficiently

Despite facing external pressures, including higher operating costs and shifting regulations, fashion and apparel companies are growing—and optimistic that will continue. Brands surveyed enjoyed good results in 2022, with an average 8.5% increase in revenue, and nine in 10 expect further revenue growth in 2023.

In order to position themselves for success, brands have embraced technology as their ally, with a notable 60% increase in the automation of production processes. This surge in efficiency is not just a numbers game; it's a strategic move linked to revenue growth. Brands utilizing product lifecycle management (PLM) software and electronic data interchange (EDI) reported a substantial 1.9% higher year-over-year revenue growth.

The message is clear: automation drives growth. For brands lagging in the automation race, the risk of falling behind the competition is palpable—more than half of fashion and apparel business are already automating key processes to streamline and manage production.

From automating fashion design with PLM tools to optimizing production with shop floor control (SFC) software, the goal remains the same: end-to-end efficiency to streamline operations.

Trend No. 2: Digitally Mature and Using Flexible Cloud Setups, Brands Now Look Toward Artificial Intelligence (AI)

With many businesses in your industry reaching a level of maturity in digital transformation, the spotlight shifts to the next frontier. After reaping the benefits of digital transformation, the outlook for 2024 includes brands continuing to shift to the cloud and the promise of AI-driven efficiency and insights.

A staggering 74% of fashion and apparel organizations have embraced or are in the process of adopting cloud ERP with more and more businesses following the trend of transitioning to the cloud. Notably, brands that started or completed cloud migrations experienced superior financial performance in 2022.

The true game-changer, however, lies in the realm of AI, with over three-quarters of organizations exploring its potential and 38% already implementing AI solutions. From AI-powered demand forecasting to robotic production automation, the applications are as diverse as they are impactful.

AI should be a serious consideration for brands aiming for sustained growth. Before diving into the world of AI, ensure your business has the digital systems and integrations in place to unleash its full potential.

Trend No. 3: Brands Remain Committed to Customer Satisfaction and Experience

In the fashion and apparel arena where trends are fleeting, one constant remains—the importance of customer satisfaction. To keep pace with your competition in 2024, your business will need a resolute commitment to not just meeting, but exceeding customer expectations.

Our research reveals a laser-like focus on customer experience, with 70% of brands using customer relationship management (CRM) systems and 69% adopting business intelligence (BI) tools to track shifting consumer patterns. What’s more, 55% leverage PLM systems to bring new designs to market swiftly and satisfy rapidly evolving consumer demands. In this age of digital dominance, this accelerated approach has become not just a strategy, but a necessity.

One challenge that your business must overcome, though, is creating a truly integrated tech stack. Some 30% of respondents said that the complexity of integrating their software systems was a barrier to achieving their goals. That suggests that those who are looking to take their digital transformation to the next level may want to consider working with a single solution provider that offers multiple tailor-made solutions that integrate seamlessly.

Trend No. 4: Facing Staffing Issues, Organizations Pursue Outsourcing and Efficiency

The human element is the heartbeat of any industry, and in fashion, securing the right people is a perennial challenge. For 43% of fashion and apparel businesses, the struggle to hire and keep skilled staff is limiting growth.

As we step into 2024, brands are not just confronting staffing issues—they're strategizing to overcome them. The preferred approach is strategic outsourcing with 74% of brands increasing outsourcing in 2023. Power of technology in this arena is also evident with 64% using it to prevent knowledge loss and 53% automating tasks to enhance productivity.

Technology is not just about automating tasks; it's a catalyst for workforce empowerment. Going forward, you can unlock the potential of your staff by investing in training and reskilling programs that help your employees leverage the solutions that make up your tech stack more fully.

Trend No. 5: Businesses Deploy a Wider Range of Tactics To Overcome Supply Chain Disruptions

In 2022, the fashion industry witnessed the seismic impact of supply chain disruptions. Fast forward to 2023, and the challenges persist. But brands are not just weathering the storm; they're deploying an arsenal of tactics to fortify their supply chains and ensure smooth sailing.

Our research showed that apparel businesses made an effort to implement new strategies this year to better manage their supply chains. Those organizations that were more proactive in addressing supply chain challenges also enjoyed greater revenue growth compared to peers. Actions include enhancing visibility, forecasting and production scheduling capabilities with technology.

It's clear that as we stride into 2024, continuous evaluation and improvement in supply chain strategies will be imperative for many businesses.

Trend No. 6: Industry Leaders Undertake Sustainability Initiatives for Brand Image and Growth

Sustainability is not just a buzzword—it's a strategic imperative for fashion and apparel leaders. And beyond meeting regulatory mandates, it is a powerful tool for enhancing brand image and driving growth.

Nearly nine in 10 organizations in your industry are actively pursuing sustainability, with focuses on efficiency improvements, lower risk and competitive advantage. The benefits extend beyond the boardroom as sustainability initiatives in fashion resonate with younger or more environmentally conscious consumers—helping enhance your brand image.

That’s critical, as Fashion’s Finest found that 79% of Generation Z shoppers say that sustainable fashion is important to them, and that cohort represents 40% of consumers worldwide. In order to capture your share of this demographic and market, your brand will need to keep sustainability among its top goals.

Download Fashion and Apparel 2024 Trends and Outlook report

Take Your Brand to the Next Level With a Trusted Partner

With fashion trends always posed to change on a whim, your business must be ready to navigate industry waters with agility while maintaining operational efficiency—and your technology stack can be your compass. As we gaze into 2024 and beyond, the challenge is not just adapting to change, but thriving in it.

Aptean, a proven leader in digital solutions for the fashion and apparel industry, stands at the forefront of empowering brands to be Ready for What's Next, Now®. Our suite of industry-specific, cloud-based solutions can enable your business brands to anticipate market trends, adapt to changing preferences and leverage digital transformation for success.

Our success stories are not just testimonials; they're a testament to the transformative power of industry-specific solutions. From Johnny Was to ADPL and Grand Forest, Aptean has been the driving force behind measurable performance improvements for many apparel businesses.

As we stand on the precipice of 2024, the call to action is clear: embrace automation, unlock the power of AI, elevate customer experience, empower your workforce, fortify your supply chain and make sustainability a growth driver. With Aptean as your partner, the future is not a challenge—it's an opportunity waiting to be seized.

To explore these trends in more detail and learn more about how leading brands are embracing sustainability and revolutionizing their operations through cutting-edge technologies, download Aptean’s full report: Fashion and Apparel 2024 Trends and Outlook for North America.

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