Is Fashion Retail Dead?

The question every fashion professional is asking themselves right now – is retail dead? Online shopping has been on a steady rise for the last 20 years, and traditional retailers are closing down their stores. We’ve seen well established brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel, Guess and JCPenny downsize their number of stores and even closing out for good. Is it the end of an era or a transition period to something new and improved?

While stores are closing down, German Online Retailer Zalando just presented an expected 22-24% increase in revenue after 2017’s first quarter. Swedish online retailers like Nelly and NA-KD are showing similar results. Numbers are clear – consumers are turning to the online stores.

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Landing page at 

So, what’s to gain from shopping online? The obviously pros are access and availability. Thanks to the Internet your physical location does no longer dictate what you can access. As long as you can pay for it the latest Gucci it-bag is yours no matter where you live. Furthermore you no longer need any kind of transportation, or even a pair of legs for that matter, to shop for fashion. I would almost go as far as to say that online retailers have democratized fashion.

However there is the question of fit and feel. If you don’t have the possibility to try on a pair of shoes in the store before you buy them, how will you know if they fit your feet? Most online retailers describe their products in-depth and provides all possible measurements but there’s still something special to experiencing the hand-feel of a garment. Because of this online shopping will evidently create more returns than in-store shopping and all shipping back and forth is another torn in the side of our planet.

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From Business of Fashion interview with Farfetch

Are we too lazy to visit a physical store? Can our planet handle the amount of returns online shopping creates? Is there a third option? Temporary pop-up stores are becoming more popular. America online brand Everlane is one of the brands using pop-ups and events as a platform to meet with their customers wile maintaining a strong online presence. Furthermore British online retailer Farfetch presented The Future Retail Experience just the other week. Maybe retail isn’t dead; maybe it’s just transitioning into something better.


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