WHAT TO WATCH
Three issues the industry will keep its eyes on in 2019. By Sheena Butler-Young and Madeleine Streets
THE SUSTAINABILITY CONNECTION
For several years, brands like Allbirds and Brother Vellies — which made sustainability a part of their mission from the start — have enjoyed marked success. But momentum among fashion and footwear players to be more ecoconscious received its second wind in 2018, with big names including Gucci, DVF, Coach, Michael Kors and Donna Karan all taking the pledge to ditch fur. Fear around global warming and a need to please Gen Z and millennial customers’ demand for social responsibility will likely drive more fashion brands to place a heightened emphasis on being ecofriendly in the new year.
A PERMANENT HOME FOR TEMPORARY SPACES
Pop-up stores continued to thrive in 2018 as brands sought to create physical interactions with consumers minus the strain of a 10-year lease. These stores double as publicity and as a testing ground for permanent locations, with brands able to sample neighborhoods and formats. In 2019, more pop-ups are expected to turn permanent as landlords look to convert short-term leases to long-term, while retail concepts that house a revolving suite of pop-ups will provide homes for the more experimental installations.
RAMPING UP SOCIAL
Megaretailers such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods stepped deeper into politics this year, with both firms taking a public stance on gun control following the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February. Toms founder Blake Mycoskie also joined the conversation, vowing last month that his company will put considerable financial backing behind ending gun violence. In addition to Nike throwing support behind Colin Kaepernick, whose anthemkneeling was perceived as having a political connection to the first amendment, its CEO in October took a public stance against the repeal of a 30-year-old Oregon law that limits the use of state and local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Similar to sustainability, as younger consumers continue to demand activism from brands, 2019 will likely see more firms supporting social causes.