Our relationship with products is changing. In a world of limited resources “newness” won’t be as important as people move away from trends and towards longevity, spending more on fewer, better quality items and prolonging the life of the products we own.
The anti-trend trend
The growth of the slow fashion movement is a great example of our lust for longevity. Tired of chasing flash-in-the pan trends and wasting money replacing poor quality garments, we’re seeing consumers’ reassess their disposable consumption habits and instead, limit their purchases to high quality, long-lasting goods.
“A fabulous beautifully made jacket is not going to disappear out of fashion next year”, says the premium British designer Amanda Wakely.
Fashion brands like John Lewis recognised this sentiment last year with their ‘Modern Rarity’ collection, which boasts of high quality, durable materials and timeless design to last a lifetime.
This desire for quality and durability needn’t be viewed as a threat to brands, but rather an opportunity. Instead of encouraging consumers to buy more, there’s an opportunity to shift focus to investing in quality and post-purchase care. This means offering cleaning or repair services to help consumers maintain their items for longer. Brands already in this space include Patagonia with their gear-fixing workshops; HOLYSTIC, a professional sneaker laundry in Singapore and Denham Tokyo who offer jean aftercare, including air drying at the perfect temperature for two days for added “crisp”.
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One start-up living and breathing these values is ‘Buy Me Once’ – an ecommerce platform that only sells products or brands that are built to last or offer lifetime guarantees / free repairs. The site serves as a quick cut-through to ethical consumers who only want to see sustainable products. Brands featured include Le Creuset, Tweezerman, and Manufactum, whose website states “our products are made from materials of the highest quality, they function well and will outlive any trend or fashion”.
Disposing of throw-away culture
Outside of fashion, IKEA is also getting in on the act. It accepts that people will be buying fewer items and that they’re already passing on items they are finished with. Already, there’s a huge market in second hand IKEA items on eBay, as well as people selling “hacked” products and things like replacement covers that prolong the life of a loved item – and cost almost as much as the original.
IKEA is shifting its focus to “more transactions per item” by creating products that are circular by design.Launching in February, ‘DELAKTIG’ designed by IKEA and Tom Dixon, is a sofa you can customise and adapt to your changing lifestyle. Expect to see more modular designs and replacement parts on offer from the Swedish giant, meaning you could replace the worn out arms on your IKEA sofa rather than just throw it away
Another brand operating in this area is Coyuchi who offer a subscription service for sheets – renewing returned items for secondary sale, and Mud Jeans who offer a similar service for jeans.
So what does this mean for brands? Consumers are on the quest for quality and durability, and brands can facilitate this by producing goods made to last a lifetime (and communicating this via proof points – like the materials used and the craftsmanship put into the product). To maintain a strong customer relationship in a world where consumption is dwindling, tapping into the currently underserved post-purchase care aspect of the consumer journey will help brands to differentiate themselves and ultimately build lifelong bonds with their customers.