The Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit is approaching in June, and License Global is chatting with speakers about the event, the licensing industry, life after lockdown and more.
We spoke with Gabrielle Sims, licensing head, FatFace, about fashion, licensing, excitement for B&LIS and other topics.
License Global: What are the dominant trends in the U.K. fashion space now, and how are consumers approaching the category as lockdowns ease?
Gabrielle Sims: Understandably, through the pandemic, consumers' needs and perspectives for fashion changed. Consumers took comfort in loungewear as we were told to stay at home. Our day-to-day lives were completely disrupted. The experience of living through a government-imposed lockdown changed our position on practically every part of our lives and not just fashion.
The desire to purchase fashion for the top half of the body, in particular, was apparent ¬– a shift due to a nation forced to communicate through video conferencing. Additionally, consumers were drawn towards comfort (as the world outside turned to turmoil); consumers wanted to feel safe and took refuge in comfortable clothing as the main driver to purchase. Casual wear, activewear and sportswear saw strong increase in interest unsurprisingly as more and more people started to review their health and well-being as we became a nation obsessed with fitness stars such as Joe Wicks, who became a household name.
I honestly do not believe this fashion trend towards casual will change any time soon and a new relaxed way of dressing may be with us for the foreseeable future. However, as lockdown gradually eases, it will all be about multi-functional clothing. These items will be built to last, classic and effortless styles, versatile pieces and lots of layers with oversized pieces like boyfriend jackets as we move into the next phase of restrictions easing.
I also feel like consumers will be looking for longevity in their clothing purchases. These pieces will last as the consumer mindset is now more on our planet and sustainability than ever before. I feel like our wardrobes will scale down as a result. Emphasis on "less is more," a move towards decluttering and recycling (which we are seeing a lot of retailers gearing towards) which can only have a positive impact on our environment, especially as we are a nation that throws away unwanted good quality wearable clothes (350,000 tons each year apparently).
With restrictions easing, there will be no doubt be a desire to dress up again. That feeling of finally getting glammed up and a desire to shake off the shackles may see a spurt in retail purchases.
Lastly, I believe consumer habits will always be subject to change, especially as they react to global events and change habits and behaviors. As the last year and a half have shown, life can be unpredictable, and events can unfold quickly, thereby forcing change. Consumers have so much information and content at the touch of a bottom that brands and retailers who are nimble, able to implement change and direction with speed and precision will benefit the new world that we now live in. It's exciting. Change can be good, particularly when the net outcome is positive. We must remember this and move with it and not against it.
How do brand collaborations work into your strategy for 2021?
Collaborations will always have a place in our branded strategy. It is a great way to diversify and add value. However, collaboration is not about a quick win for us. We have long-term partners that we have worked with for many years and will continue to work with, for example, The Princes Trust.
For us, it is about the right partnership, ensuring what we do works for both brands and delivers something meaningful and inspiring for our customers. Our customer and their brand journey are key for us.
How is sustainability something of a focal point for Fatface and a wider business necessity in fashion?
Sustainability has always been something that FatFace has been extremely conscious about. The journey is ongoing and one that FatFace is committed to.
In terms of fashion (actually, this is relevant to all categories), sustainability has to be on every retailer and brand's radar, in fact, a priority for us all.
Coming out of a global pandemic has increased people's desire to shop locally and support the community. I feel like there will be a more considered purchase on every level, something that has longevity. The throwaway fast fashion may be something of the past. I believe recycled, reused and or re-buying of fashion items will have a big surge. Charity shops included. We even see this move in the luxury market, where second-hand and rented pieces are becoming even more popular.
Added to this, consumers are becoming more informed. They will want more clarity and transparency from brands and retailers on their sustainable aims and claims than ever before, so third-party verification and labeling will be important. Consumers want bigger environmental commitments as well as social and political values; let us not forget this. It has been an impactful year of events and I believe overall this will have a positive knock-on effect on how we move forward.
Why is B&LIS an important event for the licensing industry this year?
Navigating through a year like no other and in a forever-changing environment, we will continue to face challenges and opportunities across all sectors.
This is a fantastic platform to share as an industry to get advice, insight, thoughts and inspiration. It's so refreshing and inspiring to support and help our industry on this journey. I'm honored and thrilled to be taking part, not only to contribute but also to learn and be inspired by others.
What are the topics you will be addressing during B&LIS?
I love retail therapy, so there is no better time than now to discuss this. So I'm going to briefly share my thoughts and ideas on how licensed brands/products can impact the reinvigoration of the high street and, more generally, what opportunities there are in bricks and mortar.
Be sure to register here for the virtual Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit, being held from June 9-11, 2021. To learn more about the panel FatFace will be participating in, "Cross-Industry Strategy Brainstorm: Bringing the In-Store Experience Offering to Life for Current and Future Consumers," click here and check out Day One.