An overview of five topics that caught our eye this year and why they matter to Unmade. Stay tuned for deep dives on each headline.
Since the start of COVID-19, the fashion industry has been struggling with managing inventory in the wake of shifting consumer demand, macroeconomic uncertainty, and unpredictable global events that are massively impacting supply chains. The result of this is that many of the largest global brands are sitting on significant inventory and have relied on extreme discounting throughout the holiday season to meet financial targets.
If the past few years have taught us anything it’s that fashion’s supply chains need to evolve and at Unmade we’re excited to be part of that evolution building the future of on-demand manufacturing.
Pickleball has been a hot topic this year in sports. It’s the fastest growing sport in the US and many of the world’s top athletes are investing in Major League Pickleball teams. The growth of the support creates a massive opportunity for apparel brands to quickly achieve a market leadership position. Sportswear giants like Nike and Adidas have not released specific collections and the sport has yet to find its style. The pickleball apparel market is expected to see incremental growth of $680M over the next four years, representing a substantial opportunity for sportswear giants or niche players to become the apparel leader.
The sportswear market generally requires agility to keep up with unpredictable demand from fans and athletes alike. Design processes need to be quick and supply chains need to deliver when demand for specific gear or fanwear is at its peak. This is why Unmade’s solution focuses on agile products which are templated versions of core products that can enable users to easily apply a curated set of customisation options to ensure any design created is both on-brand and production ready.
Earlier this year, Nike struck a deal with Fanatics to manufacture college sports apparel and grow its share in the collegiate apparel market. The college sports market in the US is massive, the fans are loyal, and it's not unusual for a game to draw in crowds larger than many professional leagues. The 2021 decision that allowed college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) has resulted in growing demand for customised college fan gear.
Collegiate apparel is a substantial and exciting market and we’re happy to be part of it through our teamwear business where we work with some of the largest sportswear companies to enable on-demand replenishment for college bookstores across the US.
It’s not unusual for apparel brands to consider themselves technology companies as opposed to fashion brands. Data has become fashion’s biggest driver and rather than designing clothes, fast fashion giants rely on trend-prediction models to determine what styles to produce. AI and machine learning are making their way into the design process and digital tools are becoming increasingly important to support creative teams.
Unmade was built on the belief that technology is needed across the design to production process to bring fashion’s supply chains into the 21st century. Digital tools are required to streamline and automate processes to bring supply closer to demand and reduce overproduction across the industry.
The rising importance of sustainability in fashion has resulted in the need for brands to find alternative sources of revenue in order to grow while controlling the amount that they are producing. This has resulted in the influx of resale and rental platforms and brands trying to take advantage of circularity as an alternate business model. Another model that is on the rise is paid / tokenized memberships as the new loyalty. Paid membership offers perks like discounts, early access to products, and the opportunity to profit off the value of the membership increasing.
This represents the beginning of an evolving fashion industry and the shift towards brands producing less and is aligned to what we are trying to solve at Unmade by making the industry more demand-driven. Coupled with alternate revenue models, brands have a growing opportunity to reduce production and still take advantage of growth opportunities.