Tmall says it will publish a series of data-driven forecast reports to help fashion brands stay on-trend in China’s fast-evolving consumer landscape and ultimately create fashion trends.
The Alibaba Group-owned B2C shopping platform announced the data initiative during the recent biannual Shanghai Fashion Week festival. The announcement comes as brands increasingly feel pressure to stay nimble in the face of the rapidly changing tastes of Chinese consumers.
“Today, we are capable of identifying trends. But in the long-term future, we hope together we can create trends,” Jessica Liu, Tmall Fashion and Luxury president says. Tmall says it also plans to bring to market 500,000 items every year — all designs created based on its trend forecasts.
Tmall says it will compile long-term reports, extending at least six months out, that offer trend predictions for upcoming seasonal releases and category information that allows brands to strategise for specific products, such as handbags or footwear.
The e-commerce website says that for “brands looking to thrive in today’s hyper-fast fashion cycles, Tmall will provide monthly ‘fast-react’ forecasts that predict trends three months ahead.
“We hope to enable our brand partners to develop products which meet the desires of consumers and see them debut more on-trend items on our platform,” says Liu. And in return, “we will provide them with sales and marketing channels that cater to different consumer segments, helping boost their conversion rates, while strengthening their influence as trend-setting brands.”
Tmall will leverage Alibaba’s extensive artificial-intelligence technologies, including image and pattern recognition and natural language processing, to read trends in real-time. The trends will be drawn from Alibaba’s consumer analytics and insights from third-party partners, including brands, fashion media outlets, universities, textile authorities, such as Première Vision Paris and The Woolmark Company, along with fashion trend-forecasting firms, such as Paris-based Promostyl.
Pierre Lequeux, the Greater China representative for Première Vision, which specialises in trend forecasting for everything from textiles to fabrics, says Alibaba and fashion authorities such as his share the common goal of bringing clarity to clients on upcoming trends.
“[We] look forward to partnering with Tmall to enable Chinese fashion brands through deeper and more-comprehensive insights and help them stay abreast of local and global trends,” he says.
Tmall created a sample report for the spring-summer 2019 season in collaboration with Alimama, Alibaba Group’s digital-marketing platform, with the report offering general information about Tmall’s fashion-conscious consumers, highlighting four core buyers on the site: ‘Earthy minimalists’, ‘the rebel’, ‘the weekender’ and ‘future-forward stylists’.
And in case you’re wondering, according to the Tmall trend report, it predicts the dominant short-term trend of, “a mood board bringing together visual elements that reflect characteristics of the ‘earthy minimalists’ consumer group.”
This translates into those who appreciate simple tailoring and natural fabric and colors, oversized suit jackets, straw totes for women or pinstripe suits for men, Tmall says. The ‘rebels’, of course will pursue the opposite with loud colours and bohemian styles. For this group, Tmall predicted that colourful tie-dye patterns would make a comeback, along with pop art-inspired creations that mix graphics of food with textile prints.
“It is this kind of insight and analysis upon which brands could make strategic decisions about the China market,” Tmall adds.
Oh, and don’t throw away those jogger pants, as Tmall forecasts jogger pants as a trending item for the season, especially for consumers that fall in the ‘rebels’ category.
Tmall also said it’s aiming, over the next three years, to help 1,500 partner brands increase their sales and market share within a specific consumer group it classified as “fashion-forward and trend-conscious.”
The small group has significant spending potential, as it accounted for a fourth of the total gross merchandise volume for apparel on the site last year, Tmall says. Tmall didn’t disclose the size of the group, but said it is mostly made up of young consumers between 18-24 years old, with more than 62 per cent of them based in China’s most-developed cities.