Retail in the Southern Hemisphere used to have an entirely different set of rules and consumer preferences. Are the Northern and Southern Hemispheres more alike than ever before?
For a long time, retail in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) had it pretty sweet. Thanks to geography and seasons, its niche market was largely unappealing to international retailers. Local retailers could watch their aspirational markets for trend inspiration and had between 6-18 months to interpret what they learned, where only the most successful trends were realized.
But, we all know things don't work that way anymore. Enter the internet and social media, speeding up trend turnover and giving consumers global access to the fashion world. Brands can’t afford to lag behind. Combined with international retail conglomerates imprinting themselves on every corner of the globe and squeezing out local designers, the SH was forced to evolve.
No longer the counter-season retail cousins. There are big changes in key markets like South Africa, Australia and Brazil that all retailers should know about.
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Australian retail is in the recovery position too. February sales for clothing, footwear and personal accessories rose 1.6% MoM and 11% YoY.
While the market is showing promise, it's not without its challenges. Its sluggish response to vaccination campaigns could set its progress back. Australia is 85% behind on its schedule, which could lag further after pausing the rollout of its primary immunization, AstraZeneca, due to blood clot concerns.
Okay, white sneakers may be a no-brainer. The data also points to the sexy dressing trend resonating in both hemispheres. Consumers don’t care where the influencer they follow on Instagram is from. They want the same trends they see their equals wearing around the planet. Check out some of the best performing top styles, all with variations of cut-out details.
There are pros and cons for SH retailers in this syncing of trends. SH consumers’ fast adoption of trends provides a great opportunity to spin frequent narratives around newness that will entice shoppers. But it also means international retailers are even more primed for directly speaking to what was once your local shopper.
That means retailers need to do one better by owning product direction, its positioning and its price point.
Brands to watch
The continent is also home to a blossoming scene of First Nation fashion designers who are championing Indigenous representation within the industry. 2021 will hold the first runway dedicated to these designers at Australian Fashion Week, showcasing looks from Aarli, Amber Days, Clair Helen, Nungala Creative and more up-and-coming talent.
The beach climate and the popularized images of supermodels like Gisele Bündchen and Alessandra Ambrósio have led to an uprising of brands designing for the majority that don’t fit the slim, white-European beauty standards placed on the region. Brands such as Unusual Brasil, Fudida Silk and Inserto are ones to watch as industry disruptors.
Thebe Magugu’s 2019 and Sindiso Khumalo’s 2020 LVMH prize win spotlighted South Africa as a global fashion hub. Specializing in luxury craftsmanship infused with heritage, Rich Mnisi is another local brand to look to for inspiration.
It’s going to take some smart strategic moves to truly capitalize from the shifts in SH retailers. However with the EDITED Market Intelligence Platform, retailers can take the guesswork out of their global product and pricing strategies.
We’re ready, are you?
With additional contributions by Katie Smith.
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