24th October 2020
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The Fashion Jobs Of Tomorrow
What will they look like? Forecasting which fashion careers will reign post-pandemic.

Covid-19 hit most global industries significantly, and due to the fashion’s capitalist nature, it was particularly vulnerable. With clothing sales numbers plunged by more than 30% in 2020 or $2.5tn in lost revenue, the fashion industry has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak on every imaginable level; demand has decreased while production has ceased and retailers have closed. Darwinism has again infiltrated the fashion industry, and many firms are expected to go bust in the next 12-18 months. Even the luxury industry took a hit, even though it usually remains stable due to its affluent customer base. The fashion industry was already facing challenges before the pandemic. The McKinsey Global Fashion Index (MGFI) analysis found that 56% of global fashion companies were not earning their cost of capital in 2018. This resulted in the expansive closing of brick and mortar stores, the increasing demand from customers for complete transparency, and a shifting prioritization from profit to sustainability and social responsibility.

The fast fashion industry was significantly affected, with the cut back on spending hitting the supply chain as there was no demand to meet the supply. A collapse of sales led to brands and retailers breaking contracts, canceling orders, delaying shipments, and demanding unwieldy retroactive discounts from their suppliers. The consequences were being disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable in the supply chains, namely the millions of garment workers, who, with no social safety network, were at risk of being out of work. According to reports by Bloomberg, the dressmakers in Asia alone are estimated to lose out on $6 billion after pandemic cuts, with about 1,089 garment factories in Bangladesh alone have had orders canceled worth roughly $1.5 billion. In Italy, the pandemic pulled the last straw for the already fragile garment makers; they now call on Rome as they fear that this pandemic will finish them, as most suppliers have seen orders drop by around 40 percent. Faced with the necessity of translating fashion to a digital format due to travel limitations and social distancing measures, the British Fashion Council, Italy’s Camera Nazionale Della Moda, and France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture and de la Mode spent the months of lockdowns planning how to present a fashion show digitally. The result? Digital fashion weeks, video content, and 3D renderings of what fashion will look like in the coming seasons. So, how do we convey the same poetry and warmth of an in-real-life event digitally?

The future of the fashion industry following Covid-19 is uncertain as the pandemic has forced brands and businesses to make drastic changes to survive. These adaptations will not only affect business structures and operations, but they will have a notable impact on jobs and careers throughout the entire sector. Roles are evolving, traditional retail jobs are being made redundant, and one thing is clear: digitalization and technology is the future. This unforeseeable humanitarian and financial crisis and its repercussions and damages in the textile, footwear, and leather industry are estimated to affect for several years to come. Ergo, a new wave of jobs has emerged as we move to a model less dependent on physical samples, traveling, face-to-face meetings, and real-life presentations of the latest collections. Spending habits are changing, and roles are changing to match the rapidly changing consumer behavior. Below are eight of the new job roles we are speculating will gain importance and mirror the future of fashion.

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing roles have become very central to virtually every online business. From UX designers to SEO experts, they all play crucial parts in growing brand presence and sales. Those who work in marketing will also be responsible for tracking consumer trends and habits to inform strategies to boost revenue. Digital marketing jobs will expand as more businesses will shift to developing their online channels. Brands will need more measurable marketing tools to communicate directly with the end customer and evaluate the return on investment in their advertising campaigns. Digital marketing is hugely important in the future of fashion.

Data Scientists

Data scientists are in high demand among fashion companies, despite not being the typical go-to job for people interested in fashion. Nonetheless, companies such as Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, and J.Crew have already been relying heavily on this professional expertise, moving away from simple statistical analytics and using AI and deep learning to personalize recommendations at an individual level.

Brands are increasingly focused on anticipating and predicting what shoppers might be looking for before they start searching for it. Zara has, for instance, been using its team of Data Scientists to predict the quantity and type of clothing that will get sold in specific regions, which prevents unnecessary stock from piling up during the season, a typical task previously done by fashion buyers. Using statistical machine learning and other quantitative methods to gain data-driven insight into consumer behavior, Data Scientists help brands and retailers improve and optimize every aspect of their business, from seasonal color favorites to the fitting of the garments. The most common backgrounds for those interested in pursuing this career path are computer sciences and physics since they have the necessary combination of algorithms, mathematics, and pragmatism.

Sustainability Heads

Very few brands felt it necessary to invest in sustainability pre-pandemic, but we’re seeing a shift in fashion companies starting to prioritize more sustainable models at the core of their business operations. From how they manufacture their products to where they source their materials, more brands are hiring sustainability consultants whose function is to ensure that the company is on board with this new strategy as consumers are becoming more aware of the textile and leather sectors waste problem and the negative social impact on the manufacturing communities. People are becoming more conscious of their buying decisions and where they want to spend their money. The demand for companies to demonstrate transparency and measurable improvement in both the environmental and social impacts of their supply chains will be more and more critical.

Retailers such as Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, and Galeries Lafayette are already highlighting products and brands that meet specific ethical or environmental criteria. Within the coming years, Selfridges and Zalando have gone a step further, committing to stop stocking products altogether if they do not meet ethical and sustainable standards. Additionally, from September, Amazon will mark its products with a winged hourglass to help its customers navigate their assortments and buy more sustainable products.

the future of fashion

Corporate Social Responsibility

Today, many consumers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, who market experts say are more likely to buy a brand that supports a cause, expect that brands not only have a positive image but are leaving a positive impact and act responsibly regarding philanthropy, environment conservation, diversity and labor practices, and volunteerism. The future of fashion will also look like corporate social responsibility, which, by definition, is the practice of sustainable development by delivering economic, social, and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. Brands now have the power to be transparent and accurately show what they are doing and the positive impact their work has on their focus area, such environment, and female empowerment within the supply chain. This communication is done mostly through social media, as these channels have become the vehicles that brands use to spread news, and it remains the most omnipotent and utilitarian tool for showcasing a brand’s CSR.

3D Designers, 3D Pattern Makers, and 3D Engineers

How can you put on a digital fashion show without models? Or create a product line with no actual fabrics or materials? Those are the questions facing fashion brands and design companies as the world adjusts to the realities brought about by the pandemic.

3D fashion design, 3D pattern making, and 3D printing engineering jobs were already on the rise before the pandemic. However, now, the fashion industry is forced to produce garments in shorter lead time due to travel restrictions and to limit the risk. 3D designs allow brands to test various ideas, fabrics, and colorways much more efficiently then when drawn by hand or 2D on software such as Adobe Illustrator or similar. Designers can also see how clothes hang or fit on a typical human form, without having to create an actual sample. This new working method will help companies reduce their waste in their product development process and be even more sustainable. 3D Pattern Makers can use the 3D designs to create the perfect pattern, which can be translated easily and more accurately with production, leaving less space for trial and error before the final product.

E-Commerce Personal Stylist

With the expansive growth of e-commerce, retailers have understood the potential making the shopping experience more personal for their clients, and the Personal Stylist role emerged from that need. Online retailers still struggle with offering tactility and personal assistance to their shoppers. Personal styling, whether it’s on an e-commerce platform or in real life, is still a skill that is heavily dependent on good taste, emotional intelligence, and the motivation to help people. This skill set, combined with algorithmic technology, has emerged a myriad of stylist-driven artificial intelligence businesses.

One of the pioneers and industry disruptors of the last couple years has been Stitch Fix, which, aside from its finely tuned algorithms, has become a success due to its stylists. The company employs around 4000 stylists who are algorithmically matched to each client for styling jobs, such as deciding the contents of the boxes customers receive and instrumenting the stylish and personalized experience Stitch Fix is known for by building personal relationships with clients, solving wardrobe challenges, and surprising and delighting clients with each fix.

Thread, founded in June 2012, has helped thousands of clients with styling assistance through online communication and a powerful algorithm. “As fashion and tech become more entwined, the role of a personal stylist has evolved to incorporate a more in-depth understanding of technology,” explains Shaunie Brett to BoF, Style Director of the personal styling website Thread. “My role is to help our software engineers and data scientists grasp how a stylist makes decisions so that they can apply this to our algorithm and make personal styling scalable for the first time.”

Not only the most tech-savvy platforms are hiring stylists to personalize the shopping experience, but also traditional retailers, such as Net-a-Porter and Nordstrom, are well known for its in-store stylists that curate looks for their more affluent customers, or Levi’s, who’s often looking for styling skills for their in-store sales associates.

All-Round Candidates

The future of fashion companies are increasingly looking for candidates who have an all-round background can take on multiple types of roles at once, such as running their social media channels while working on e-commerce styling or designing products and simultaneously take care of the supply chain and daily communication with the manufacturing partners. Roles in fashion are getting wider in scope and becoming more comprehensive as technology makes the various daily tasks and operations easier, creating room for professionals to venture into other fields and have a more challenging multidisciplinary job role.

While it is hard to find a single person who can do it all, companies increasingly want someone that can wear multiple hats within an enterprise. Even if the industry has resisted for the last few years, a radical digitalization and reformation are currently taking place, leaving room only for the most tech-savvy and adaptable to these changes. With experience in both creative, digital, and traditional retail, you will most certainly always have a job within fashion.

The Fashion Jobs Of Tomorrow
What will they look like? Forecasting which fashion careers will reign post-pandemic.

Covid-19 hit most global industries significantly, and due to the fashion’s capitalist nature, it was particularly vulnerable. With clothing sales numbers plunged by more than 30% in 2020 or $2.5tn in lost revenue, the fashion industry has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak on every imaginable level; demand has decreased while production has ceased and retailers have closed. Darwinism has again infiltrated the fashion industry, and many firms are expected to go bust in the next 12-18 months. Even the luxury industry took a hit, even though it usually remains stable due to its affluent customer base. The fashion industry was already facing challenges before the pandemic. The McKinsey Global Fashion Index (MGFI) analysis found that 56% of global fashion companies were not earning their cost of capital in 2018. This resulted in the expansive closing of brick and mortar stores, the increasing demand from customers for complete transparency, and a shifting prioritization from profit to sustainability and social responsibility.

The fast fashion industry was significantly affected, with the cut back on spending hitting the supply chain as there was no demand to meet the supply. A collapse of sales led to brands and retailers breaking contracts, canceling orders, delaying shipments, and demanding unwieldy retroactive discounts from their suppliers. The consequences were being disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable in the supply chains, namely the millions of garment workers, who, with no social safety network, were at risk of being out of work. According to reports by Bloomberg, the dressmakers in Asia alone are estimated to lose out on $6 billion after pandemic cuts, with about 1,089 garment factories in Bangladesh alone have had orders canceled worth roughly $1.5 billion. In Italy, the pandemic pulled the last straw for the already fragile garment makers; they now call on Rome as they fear that this pandemic will finish them, as most suppliers have seen orders drop by around 40 percent. Faced with the necessity of translating fashion to a digital format due to travel limitations and social distancing measures, the British Fashion Council, Italy’s Camera Nazionale Della Moda, and France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture and de la Mode spent the months of lockdowns planning how to present a fashion show digitally. The result? Digital fashion weeks, video content, and 3D renderings of what fashion will look like in the coming seasons. So, how do we convey the same poetry and warmth of an in-real-life event digitally?

The future of the fashion industry following Covid-19 is uncertain as the pandemic has forced brands and businesses to make drastic changes to survive. These adaptations will not only affect business structures and operations, but they will have a notable impact on jobs and careers throughout the entire sector. Roles are evolving, traditional retail jobs are being made redundant, and one thing is clear: digitalization and technology is the future. This unforeseeable humanitarian and financial crisis and its repercussions and damages in the textile, footwear, and leather industry are estimated to affect for several years to come. Ergo, a new wave of jobs has emerged as we move to a model less dependent on physical samples, traveling, face-to-face meetings, and real-life presentations of the latest collections. Spending habits are changing, and roles are changing to match the rapidly changing consumer behavior. Below are eight of the new job roles we are speculating will gain importance and mirror the future of fashion.

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing roles have become very central to virtually every online business. From UX designers to SEO experts, they all play crucial parts in growing brand presence and sales. Those who work in marketing will also be responsible for tracking consumer trends and habits to inform strategies to boost revenue. Digital marketing jobs will expand as more businesses will shift to developing their online channels. Brands will need more measurable marketing tools to communicate directly with the end customer and evaluate the return on investment in their advertising campaigns. Digital marketing is hugely important in the future of fashion.

Data Scientists

Data scientists are in high demand among fashion companies, despite not being the typical go-to job for people interested in fashion. Nonetheless, companies such as Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, and J.Crew have already been relying heavily on this professional expertise, moving away from simple statistical analytics and using AI and deep learning to personalize recommendations at an individual level.

Brands are increasingly focused on anticipating and predicting what shoppers might be looking for before they start searching for it. Zara has, for instance, been using its team of Data Scientists to predict the quantity and type of clothing that will get sold in specific regions, which prevents unnecessary stock from piling up during the season, a typical task previously done by fashion buyers. Using statistical machine learning and other quantitative methods to gain data-driven insight into consumer behavior, Data Scientists help brands and retailers improve and optimize every aspect of their business, from seasonal color favorites to the fitting of the garments. The most common backgrounds for those interested in pursuing this career path are computer sciences and physics since they have the necessary combination of algorithms, mathematics, and pragmatism.

Sustainability Heads

Very few brands felt it necessary to invest in sustainability pre-pandemic, but we’re seeing a shift in fashion companies starting to prioritize more sustainable models at the core of their business operations. From how they manufacture their products to where they source their materials, more brands are hiring sustainability consultants whose function is to ensure that the company is on board with this new strategy as consumers are becoming more aware of the textile and leather sectors waste problem and the negative social impact on the manufacturing communities. People are becoming more conscious of their buying decisions and where they want to spend their money. The demand for companies to demonstrate transparency and measurable improvement in both the environmental and social impacts of their supply chains will be more and more critical.

Retailers such as Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, and Galeries Lafayette are already highlighting products and brands that meet specific ethical or environmental criteria. Within the coming years, Selfridges and Zalando have gone a step further, committing to stop stocking products altogether if they do not meet ethical and sustainable standards. Additionally, from September, Amazon will mark its products with a winged hourglass to help its customers navigate their assortments and buy more sustainable products.

the future of fashion

Corporate Social Responsibility

Today, many consumers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, who market experts say are more likely to buy a brand that supports a cause, expect that brands not only have a positive image but are leaving a positive impact and act responsibly regarding philanthropy, environment conservation, diversity and labor practices, and volunteerism. The future of fashion will also look like corporate social responsibility, which, by definition, is the practice of sustainable development by delivering economic, social, and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. Brands now have the power to be transparent and accurately show what they are doing and the positive impact their work has on their focus area, such environment, and female empowerment within the supply chain. This communication is done mostly through social media, as these channels have become the vehicles that brands use to spread news, and it remains the most omnipotent and utilitarian tool for showcasing a brand’s CSR.

3D Designers, 3D Pattern Makers, and 3D Engineers

How can you put on a digital fashion show without models? Or create a product line with no actual fabrics or materials? Those are the questions facing fashion brands and design companies as the world adjusts to the realities brought about by the pandemic.

3D fashion design, 3D pattern making, and 3D printing engineering jobs were already on the rise before the pandemic. However, now, the fashion industry is forced to produce garments in shorter lead time due to travel restrictions and to limit the risk. 3D designs allow brands to test various ideas, fabrics, and colorways much more efficiently then when drawn by hand or 2D on software such as Adobe Illustrator or similar. Designers can also see how clothes hang or fit on a typical human form, without having to create an actual sample. This new working method will help companies reduce their waste in their product development process and be even more sustainable. 3D Pattern Makers can use the 3D designs to create the perfect pattern, which can be translated easily and more accurately with production, leaving less space for trial and error before the final product.

E-Commerce Personal Stylist

With the expansive growth of e-commerce, retailers have understood the potential making the shopping experience more personal for their clients, and the Personal Stylist role emerged from that need. Online retailers still struggle with offering tactility and personal assistance to their shoppers. Personal styling, whether it’s on an e-commerce platform or in real life, is still a skill that is heavily dependent on good taste, emotional intelligence, and the motivation to help people. This skill set, combined with algorithmic technology, has emerged a myriad of stylist-driven artificial intelligence businesses.

One of the pioneers and industry disruptors of the last couple years has been Stitch Fix, which, aside from its finely tuned algorithms, has become a success due to its stylists. The company employs around 4000 stylists who are algorithmically matched to each client for styling jobs, such as deciding the contents of the boxes customers receive and instrumenting the stylish and personalized experience Stitch Fix is known for by building personal relationships with clients, solving wardrobe challenges, and surprising and delighting clients with each fix.

Thread, founded in June 2012, has helped thousands of clients with styling assistance through online communication and a powerful algorithm. “As fashion and tech become more entwined, the role of a personal stylist has evolved to incorporate a more in-depth understanding of technology,” explains Shaunie Brett to BoF, Style Director of the personal styling website Thread. “My role is to help our software engineers and data scientists grasp how a stylist makes decisions so that they can apply this to our algorithm and make personal styling scalable for the first time.”

Not only the most tech-savvy platforms are hiring stylists to personalize the shopping experience, but also traditional retailers, such as Net-a-Porter and Nordstrom, are well known for its in-store stylists that curate looks for their more affluent customers, or Levi’s, who’s often looking for styling skills for their in-store sales associates.

All-Round Candidates

The future of fashion companies are increasingly looking for candidates who have an all-round background can take on multiple types of roles at once, such as running their social media channels while working on e-commerce styling or designing products and simultaneously take care of the supply chain and daily communication with the manufacturing partners. Roles in fashion are getting wider in scope and becoming more comprehensive as technology makes the various daily tasks and operations easier, creating room for professionals to venture into other fields and have a more challenging multidisciplinary job role.

While it is hard to find a single person who can do it all, companies increasingly want someone that can wear multiple hats within an enterprise. Even if the industry has resisted for the last few years, a radical digitalization and reformation are currently taking place, leaving room only for the most tech-savvy and adaptable to these changes. With experience in both creative, digital, and traditional retail, you will most certainly always have a job within fashion.

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