How tech is changing the fashion industry

How tech is changing the fashion industry. Source: Shutterstock

Does fashion mix with e-commerce?

E-COMMERCE is on the rise in Asia and around the world, however, and it’s something that you expect will facilitate and fuel shopping — of every kind.

Whatever a customer needs, popular e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Lazada can provide. But can they really?

Despite the rise and phenomenal growth of these platforms in the region, some boutique and labels owners are wondering if fashion can really mix with e-commerce.

At the Lazada 2018 E-commerce Seller Conference in Kuala Lumpur recently, Tech Wire Asia caught up with Pestle & Mortar Clothing Founder and Pencil Produce Group CEO Hugh Koh who said that e-commerce platforms are great for reach, but sometimes do make it challenging to showcase yourself as a premium fashion brand.

The sentiment, of course, was shared by several other sellers at the conference and by e-store owners in Singapore, Hong Kong, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

One of the biggest challenges for fashion labels currently leveraging e-commerce platforms for reach is differentiation.

“Log on to any e-commerce platform in the region, look for shoes, and you’ll be bombarded with similar looking shoes — they look similar, are priced similarly, and chances are, they’re being procured from the same factory in China no matter who is selling them on the platform,” said one footwear manufacturer from the Philippines struggling to differentiate himself in the online marketplace.

His products, although competitively priced, are handmade and he’s convinced they are more durable than those shipped from China — but how do you establish and highlight your brand in the men’s formal footwear market — where “everything” looks more or less alike?

Koh, whose fashion brands were born in the digital age, has chosen to build some brick and mortar stores to showcase his products. “Fashion is something people want to see and feel,” he said briefly before suggesting that it depended on the brand, their phase of evolution, and their needs. And he’s quite right.

E-commerce offers great exposure and reach sans bias, which makes it great for new brands looking to test the waters and gauge interest in their products.

In the long run, however, it might just turn out that fashion truly doesn’t mix with e-commerce. Surveys suggest that customers see shopping for clothes, particularly for high-end fashion, as an experience, and it is this insight that is saving the malls in the US and high street retail in the UK. Perhaps it’ll be something sellers learn in Asia too.