After co-founding Rent the Runway in 2008, Jennifer Fleiss helped scale the fashion e-commerce brand to a $1.7 billion valuation as of its 2021 IPO. She shares here her predictions for the fashion industry--and which fads entrepreneurs need to take seriously.
How is the fashion business going to change in the next year?
A lot of retailers are not doing that well--consumers are losing interest in fast fashion because of sustainability and quality issues. But on the flip side, tools like Shopify are opening up the industry for more diverse and innovative brands to get started. And, on the topic of sustainability, I think we're going to see the fashion industry implement a carbon tax and try to discourage consumers from making wasteful and costly returns.
The next decade?
Web3 and the metaverse will be more familiar to people, so I'm very bullish on that. Wearing digital clothing in the metaverse, or even on a Zoom call, will be commonplace very soon, as will metaverse fashion shows and fashion NFTs. And we'll see more mainstream fashion brands launch digital lines.
What else are you bullish on?
Text and conversational commerce. As digital fashion creates more data about consumer preferences, and A.I. technology improves, we will be able to shop with voice assistants. Imagine telling your Alexa, "Hey, I need a dress for my friend's 40th birthday." Your voice assistant will be able to ask you a couple of questions to narrow down your options, remember your preferences, and order outfits for you.
Where can entrepreneurs make an impact?
I think last-mile delivery in particular needs some help. It's not easy to integrate with most third-party tracking systems. I also think we need more automated outsourcing solutions for customer service, because it's a really valuable conversion tool that brands often neglect. And I think influencer marketing should become more plug-and-play, like with Facebook ads. We don't need agencies. We need a tool, where you can say, "Here's what I'm selling and want to pay"--and have it give you the best influencers for your demographic and price point.