2018 in Retail: The Year in Review

Updated: Feb 18, 2019


Last month, we looked forward to the top three trends that are predicted to shape retail in 2019. However, 2018 was itself a year of great change for brands in retail and luxury: digitalisation, the rise of luxury streetwear, retail store reinvention… the list goes on. In this month’s article, we highlight 3 stand out trends.



Luxury Streetwear is King

Never has streetwear been embraced so wholeheartedly by luxury fashion brands than in 2018 with the appointment of Virgil Abloh as the men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton earlier this year. This move by a luxury titan signals the serious recognition these brands are giving to Generation Y’s and Z’s who eschew the traditional gloss of catwalks, preferring the cool, the authentic and the innovative. A key driver of the streetwear hype is the desire for a real community and affiliation in a highly virtual and digitalised age, which luxury brands are tapping into by introducing streetwear philosophies into their templates. However, to remain successful, luxury fashion will have to continue to find ways to create and maintain this community beyond ‘drop’ marketing.


Sharing Economy Heats Up

Many new fashion-tech companies have either popped up or reached new heights in 2018, but the growth of the sharing economy stands out in particular. In fact, CNBC named Rent The Runway the 9th most disruptive company in the world in 2018, in league with giants such as Uber and SpaceX. Will this shift represent the end of ownership in retail? While a shared wardrobe might give customers never-ending variety, the emotional attachment often associated with clothing and the business model’s logistical issues cannot be ignored. The global online rental market is forecasted to reach $2 billion in 2020, although this represents a fraction of a $821 billion apparel market. It thus remains to be seen how much more traction the sharing economy can gain in the coming years.


Influencing Means More Business

Influencers and Key Opinion Leaders have been around for a long time but 2018 has seen an acceleration in this industry’s growth: Instagram’s influencer economy was valued at $1 billion in 2018 by Mediakix. While prominent influencers with millions of followers are well-positioned to engage with prominent brands, micro-influencers (with thousands instead of millions of followers) also present an opportunity en-masse. Brands like Fashion Nova have done particularly well in this space, giving free clothing to micro-influencers with at least 1,000 followers for using the @FashionNova handle. The result? Together with all its other marketing efforts, the brand has now more social media exposure than H&M and Zara combined.


Written by Charmaine Leong


Charmaine is a fashion-tech and luxury enthusiast currently reading the Masters in Management 2019 and participating in the Walpole Programme. In addition to gaining a BSc (Hons) in International Fashion Management at the London College of Fashion prior to LBS, she also has experience in digital consulting, merchandising and fashion-tech incubator projects with Microsoft.

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