Digital is something very much present in the future of fashion accessories, jewellery and naturally in that of exhibitions. The reason lies in the public health emergency that has limited travelling, both to stores and the most important events. However, there is no dampening the vitality of this sector, increasingly oriented towards new alternatives in addition to its traditional instruments.
According to Istat, there was a 28.5% increase in e-commerce during the first six months of the year. There was a veritable boom of e-commerce during the lockdown and the channel will continue to play a major role in business, reaching much higher levels than the pre-pandemic age. Netcomm data reveals that 75% of those who buy on e-commerce websites never did so before the emergency. This suggests that a percentage of offline sales may permanently migrate to the digital world.
Digitalisation has changed the buying behaviour of consumers, influenced in particular by social media, an area that will require increasing investments in the future. However, the strength of the digital realm must be suitably blended with reality; in particular, as far as exhibitions are concerned, it is important to safeguard and nurture human values, which remain central.
But there’s more. In order to stay competitive, sustainability becomes crucial, in turn requiring a more responsible supply chain and greater recognition of the value of artisan tradition. The crisis has highlighted the direct link between the environment and health, inspiring a change in the mentality of institutions, companies and individuals. The "protection" factor has stimulated consumers to ask a series of questions: they want to know what they are wearing and whether they can trust it. Companies are shifting towards a new way of production, creation and industry generation, characterised by a greater focus on customer loyalty. Disclosing how a product or a garment is made to customers means greater supply chain transparency and traceability.
Reshoring will be the most significant structural change in the post COVID-19 world. This process is already under way and appears to be inevitable, if costly. Reshoring is an issue that has struck a chord in Italy, for example in the fashion world, as it is intrinsic to a short supply chain (simpler to control and manage), and above all, it encourages the leveraging of Italian production as a strategic aspect that guarantees certified, sustainable and high quality products.
According to the most recent forecasts by The Business of Fashion and McKinsey, "The global fashion industry (clothing) will see a 27-30% reduction in 2020, with the possibility of returning to a growth rate of between 2% and 4% in 2021. For goods like accessories, jewellery and beauty products, a 35-39% reduction has been estimated, with a possible return to a growth rate of 1% to 4% for 2021".
However, there is no shortage of reasons for discrete optimism. Positive signs are also emerging from beyond the European Union, where industry professionals are increasingly turning to in order to nurture relations and start the relaunch. According to the October 2020 survey by Confindustria Moda, a certain dynamism (in terms of received orders) is palpable in a number of strategic countries, like Germany and France above others and then China, the UK, South Korea and the USA.
So, will the future of bijoux and fashion accessories be traditional or digital? Sarin Block Bachmann, vice president of Reed Jewelry Group, reports a promising recovery in June for traditional channel retail. Louis Chan from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council notes how the digital realm, including technologies linked to automation and artificial intelligence, is increasingly vital and necessary for the entire jewellery industry.
Perhaps the key word here is flexibility. Because creative solutions are the winning ones and without a doubt, the answer to the future of the fashion accessory and bijoux industry lies in a blend of both.