Millennials Disrupt The Fashion Game

As we continue to decode and keep up with an ever expanding, multi-channel retail landscape that’s largely innovating online–we find ourselves in the midst of a millennial driven retail disruption.

Social media has revolutionized the way we shop and millennials are leading the charge.  They are mostly creating and consuming the content on these platforms, ultimately holding the power to what’s seen and desired. In the process, they are less impressionable, less pack driven and better original thinkers whose preferences and interests are self-dictated.

“Our company must continue to re-evaluate our strategies on how we market and use social media as a tool to share our product and services,” says Barneys New York director of Client Services Robert Win, “the market is shifting and we continue to shift with it,” he concludes. This change in tact from dictating and instructing what to consume to taking cues underscore the shift in power and influence of millennials.

Influencers, largely a millennial demographic  attained such a high level of authority that they bring attention and move products in units that cannot be ignored. While Kylie Jenner can garner 2.2 million likes (never mind sales) on a Fashion Nova jeans posting, retailers are aware they cannot deliver on that level of engagement.  Influencers such as @songofstyle @camilacoehlo operate legitimate businesses based on their postings and eventual sell-through of products. They have a first hand look at what youth culture truly want.

So what motivates millennials to recommend and buy one brand over another? Its not so much about the brand as it is about the item. And social media drives millennials to make statements. If a desired item is out of financial range, they will work to buy that fire piece to mix with thrift store finds to create a look. They rarely go to department stores to buy clothes, preferring online shopping or thrifting. There’s also a growing tone of activism amongst millennials and their politics is increasingly informing their product purchases. They buy on principle, willing to take a stand for what they believe in.

How do we maintain some semblance of management and forecast on this mercurial group? The root of change in retail culture is ultimately music. Rihanna, Young Thug, Lorde and others dominating the music industry are the some of the largest influencers in fashion today. It’s all about energy and vibes, and music is what drives the audience to feel better and to dream. It drives the energy that people want to put out their, and a large reflection of that is how to dress.

While we may not be able to attract millennials at brick and mortar to the levels of previous generations, there’s still opportunities to lure them into physical environments. However those experiences must be dynamic and exciting and when broadcast online, has the potential to go viral.