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A Fashion Week look at an on-trend McKinsey report

Runways around the world have been set ablaze during the first Fashion Week shows of the new decade, so it feels like a perfect moment to take a look at an on-trend McKinsey publication: “The State of Fashion 2020: Navigating uncertainty.”

A collaboration between our Apparel, Fashion & Luxury Practice and the Business of Fashion, a leading publication for fashion business intelligence, the report surveyed over 290 global fashion executives to develop a research-driven point of view on the state of global fashion.

“Through our extensive database of fashion companies,” says Achim Berg, a McKinsey senior partner and co-editor of the report, “we’re able to analyze and compare individual companies’ performances against their peers by category, segment, or region.”

Here’s a look at companies that exemplify some of the report’s top forecasted trends for 2020—all of which include McKinsey alumni among their ranks. (In addition, Business of Fashion founder and CEO Imran Amed was a member of our firm from 2001-2006.)

Sustainability first

It has become clear over time that the global fashion industry consumes massive amounts of energy, generates pollutants, and creates waste. This year, fashion players have recognized the need to take meaningful action while facing up to consumer demand for transformational change.

Global Fashion Agenda

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Thomas Tochtermann, Vice-chairman (McKinsey 1983-2014)

“GFA’s role is advancing the sustainability of the fashion industry through thought leadership and convening power,” says GFA Vice Chairman Thomas Tochterman. Since 2009, the forum has organized the annual Copenhagen Fashion Summit that convenes the fashion industry, multilateral organizations, industry associations, and political decision-makers to find common solutions to implement social and environmental sustainability.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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Andrew Morlet, CEO (McKinsey 1999-2003)

Alum Andrew Morlet is CEO of the ten-year-old charity, which has helped put the circular economy on the agenda of decision makers across business, government, and academia. In May 2017, Make Fashion Circular was originally launched as the Circular Fibers Initiative at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit to foster collaboration and innovation in creating a new textiles economy.

Inclusive culture

Consumers and employees are putting increasing pressure on fashion companies to become proactive advocates of diversity and inclusion. Increasingly, companies will elevate diversity and inclusion as a priority, embed it across the organization, and hire dedicated leadership roles.

Chanel

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Pauline De Bertrand Pibrac, CFO and Development Officer (McKinsey 2007-2012)

In 2019, the 110-year-old French luxury house hired its first-ever global head of diversity and inclusion, Fiona Pargeter. Since then, Chanel has taken several measures to signal its willingness to change. Among them are the appointment of the brand’s first openly-transgender model, Teddy Quinlivan, who has become the face of Chanel Beauty and its championing of women in film.

Next-gen social

As traditional engagement models struggle on established social media platforms, it will be key for players to create attention-grabbing content and deploy it on the right platform for each market with a call to action to maximize the return on marketing spend.

Burberry

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Johnattan Leon, Strategy Director (McKinsey 2010-2013, 2015-2017)

In a desire to entertain and connect with new and younger consumers around the world, the British luxury fashion brand has launched several campaigns that stretch beyond traditional channels. Among them are its first online game called B Bounce on Burberry.com and its monthly product releases called ‘B series,’ which are sold exclusively on the brand’s Instagram, WeChat, Line, and Kakao channels.

Material revolution

Fashion brands are exploring alternatives to today’s standard materials, with a particular focus on more sustainable substitutes. We expect R&D will increasingly focus on materials science for new fibers, textiles, finishes, and other material innovations to be used at scale.

Patagonia

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Ben Stewart, Head of eCommerce, Patagonia Provisions, Inc. (McKinsey 2008-2010)

Guided by its mission to “save our home planet,” the American outdoor clothing and gear company has supported grassroots activists working to find solutions to the environmental crisis for nearly 40 years.

Some of its initiatives include its one percent self-imposed tax, which is donated to the preservation and restoration of natural environments and its Worn Wear refurbished clothing line.

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