3 questions for ... Nelly Rodi

In 1985 she founded NellyRodi, one of the leading trends agencies. Today she devotes her energy to numerous mandates and duties. She is an Administrator for the IFM (Institut Français de la Mode) and EnsAD (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs); President of La Fabrique; and an Administrator for the Comité d’Echanges Franco-Japonais. She is also a Presidents’ Delegate for the Chamber of Commerce for Paris and the Ile de France. For the past 15 years she has served with Elizabeth Ducottet as Co-President of R3iLab, which, in December, presented a conclusive report on profiles of future fashion consumers.


Would you tell us about the R3iLab’s missions and objectives?

R3iLab stands for Réseau Innovation Immatérielle pour l’Industrie. It was founded around 15 years ago and brings together 3,500 manufacturers, primarily from the textile and garment sector. It is run, for the most part, by volunteers and is not attached to any organisation. Since the beginning, the DGE (Direction Générale des Entreprises) has granted us a budget to develop programs and to further our goals — boosting innovation and encouraging ideas for the future. R3iLab challenges and shakes up ideas to help us move away from traditional approaches. For example, we put together manufacturers and designers – professionals from very different backgrounds. We set up  contact between an industrialist specialising in knits and a furniture designer. We also organise meetings between artist-craftsmen and industrialists. Creating dialogue between these professionals isn’t obvious; the former are experts in one-of-a-kind pieces and the latter in series. In order to explore new ideas, we also organise meet-up soirées and travel-discovery events, such as the recent trip to MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Boston. Every two years this extensive program culminates in a large meeting where we present our vision of the market and future consumers. On 11 December 2018 we brought together 400 people in the big amphitheatre at Bercy to discuss the conclusions of our visionary project Mode & Textile Scenarii 2030. We created this report thanks to input from around 120 businesses. In 2018 we organised five meetings where we talked about difficulties in the industry, solutions to problems, the economic context, and other topics. An Editorial Committee was then formed to review this work and report on the major changes in consumption happening in society today.


In fact, could you summarise those conclusions, especially concerning the profiles of future consumers?

We are experiencing a change of eras: we’re moving from the era of consumption, even over-consumption, which has been in place for 20 years, to one of deconsumption, a word that kept appearing in our working groups. The numbers tell the story. Fashion consumption dropped by 2.9 percent in 2018. That’s the first time in 10 years that has happened. It’s a turning point in history. There’s another element that illustrates this evolution; in 2018, 31 percent of people bought second-hand clothing. And we’re seeing new behaviour, such as renting or allocating budgets for mobile phones and other subscriptions instead of clothing. These observations let us define four profiles for future consumers. The Impatient Consumer wants immediacy. He wants everything right away and, if he has to wait, he wants to know why and how. The Citizen is looking for transparency and traceability. He wants to know everything about what he buys to be sure the manufacturing conditions are perfect. We see this type of profile influencing the food industry today, and it will soon be the case for fashion. Then there’s the Human Consumer. He wants to know what’s behind the product and who are the men or women who made it. If it was made by a machine, he still wants to be sure there were real people who played a part in manufacturing. Finally, there’s the Creative Consumer. He wants to participate in the creative process through personalisation – he wants his say in the process. And of course, a consumer can be several or all of these profiles at the same time!


According to these studies and your perception, what are the major challenges the textile-garment-fashion and flexible materials sector will face between now and 2030?

It’s important to give these consumers the services they expect. The sector will also have to develop initiatives so each consumer can stay informed about their order’s manufacturing and be patient, like the bespoke shoemaker who sends his clients daily photos of each production step in their order. Professionals need to learn how to communicate – through photos and videos – about the processes as well as the people involved. Meaning must be given to the purchasing act. In fact, the essayist Gilles Lipovetsky says that if there’s no meaning, the fashion industry won’t survive. Additionally, and thanks especially to internet, manufacturers have an opportunity to get clients more involved in product development. Setting up these services goes along with bringing manufacturing back to Europe, and even better to France. And finally we have to invest in artificial intelligence, and France is running behind in this area. That’s why in 2019 we’re going to set up programs on this topic.