Fresh from checking out some of the world's best fashion shows, Marie Claire's creative director and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia talked to a stylish South by Southwest Interactive audience last week during a session called "Style Goes Viral: The Future of Fashion."
Garcia was joined by Randi Zuckerberg, the founder of Zuckerberg Media and sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Both shared their thoughts on how social media has been changing the traditional fashion industry, from democratizing high fashion to changing the ways designers and retailers connect with customers.
Garcia told the audience that designer Alexander Wang recently teamed up with Samsung to crowd-source designs for a limited-edition bag. Wang will create a one-of-a-kind print inspired by sketches and photos from a select group of people who will produce images using their Samsung's Galaxy Note II smartphones.
"We're living in exciting times where the sky is the limit," Garcia said.
Garcia and Zuckerberg forecasted that the future of fashion would probably include trends like more customization of everything from shoes to apparel. Zuckerberg said already more fashionistas are looking online for one-of-a-kind pieces on websites like Etsy. And Zuckerberg said it's possible that women who shop at fast fashion stores like Zara or H&M would be willing to spend more on fashion if they could have access to online wardrobe rental sharing.
Garcia says she attends endless runway and fashion shows so that she can translate the information for readers and give advice such as what to wear for your first day at a new workplace. The companies that will emerge as the leaders of fashion's future, she said, will be able to offer shoppers fashion solutions through technology.
They praised brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton for pushing the boundaries online while still creating a buzz that brings shoppers into their brick-and-mortar locations for specialized items.
With the rise of e-commerce, companies have had to shift into creating a unique store experience, Zuckerberg said. Stores can no longer compete with the convenience and speed that e-commerce brings and "sooner or later, retailers will have to change," Garcia said.
But does that mean the end of brick-and-mortar stores? Not exactly. Garcia said the reality is that America still has a strong mall culture.
"We still like to shop together, kids still like to hang out at malls and families still gather there on weekends," Garcia said.
Zuckerberg said mall shopping in the future could become more of a showroom experience.
Already popular among the do-it-yourself crafter community, Pinterest also has grabbed the attention of the high-end fashion world. Garcia pointed out that Pinterest's visual communication approach translates to Pinterest users spending more than Facebook users.
"You can get very inspired," Garcia said. As an early Pinterest adopter, she shared that her office is full of all kinds of physical boards -- for inspiration and shoes. "For me Pinterest is like crack cocaine to an addict. Communicating visually is just so powerful."
So rather than chasing trends, shoppers are figuring our their own personal styles and companies are experimenting and navigating the ways they can reach customers in a digital age.
"Everyone is a personal brand online," Zuckerberg said.
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