Executive Summary: Textile Customers 2026

2b AHEAD Trend Study Textile Customers 2026

* Technology is changing products and customer needs in textiles, fashion and apparel

* Erase the terms "standard" and "mass market" from your vocabulary: Clothing and customer dialogue will be individualized

 * Customer needs will be widely differentiated and can be divided into nine new segments, each with different customer communication- and sales needs. Each segment will require a specific customer approach, and our study describes this new market in detail

 * Omnichannel management will be the core element of every clothing company and will join customer dialogue and production.

* Providers who recognize this high level of individuality with regard to all touchpoints, points of sale, and products will position themselves as future-proof.

 * The first new business models are already satisfying changed customer needs and are attacking established players. The transformation has begun!


The trend-research experts at the 2b AHEAD ThinkTank have published a new trend study on “Textile Customers 2026” which analyses the influence of progressive digitalization on customer needs in textiles and its impact on the points of sale, textile products and fashion, and value-added chains of textile companies.


The transformation goes deeper than anyone expected: Even customer expectations for products are being changed by digitalization; within a few years' time, many customer segments will expect individualized clothing to be the standard. And what's more: Even after the purchase, products will likely adapt to changing circumstances – adaptive products will become commonplace. The value-added chains of textile companies are poised to take a massive innovative leap in order to fulfil the requirements of tomorrow's customers. The race for customer interfaces is on.


The networking of people and smart devices, paired with intelligent sensors and smart forecasting, are constantly leading to new communications channels, contact points, and data types. Customer trust is increasingly shifting away from providers and towards digital assistance systems and digital agents. An efficient management of these channels and contact points will be decisive for the success of companies, and will also transform organizational structures, business models, and even products. This is true in textiles as well. In addition, traditional providers – established, successful fashion and apparel brands – will see themselves confronted with increasing international competition, as well as entirely new types of competitors. Apart from familiar providers such as Ebay, Zalando, or Outfittery, more and more attackers will force their way between textile firms and their customers. Pinterest, Telekom, and IBM, for example, naturally consider themselves as players in the textile market. 


The textile company of the future will organize itself around customer communication; omnichannel management, which goes far beyond today's multi- or cross-channel approaches, will be the core. Providing and maintaining communication channels alone will not be sufficient in the long run. The real need is for intelligent networking and the real-time synchronization of the various channels and internal processes. Customer needs will differ significantly

for each of the segments. A differentiated approach to different customer groups thus becomes essential – an approach that, from a sociodemographic perspective, greatly exceeds traditional segmentation models. 


This is not a study about fashion trends or next season's trend colors. Neither does it outline any calculations of the average monthly budget of fashion customers, as this would simply not be possible for a forecasting range of ten years. Do not put your trust in any white paper that promises reliable numbers for the medium-term future; this precision is an illusion. Instead, this trend study examines future solutions and customer needs that can already be seen today. The study furthermore develops ways to show how you – as an entrepreneur – can use this knowledge in order to succeed in textiles.


The trends described in this study are to be understood as long-term aids for strategic orientation. Be sceptical of trend studies which forecast that your industry will completely change overnight. This is nonsense. The present study invites you to shape the future. Be encouraged to develop new approaches to the future by conducting manageable pilot projects in order to enter new business areas and acquire new customers, while also generating more profit than is lost by that existing business. Your success in doing this – or lack thereof – will decide whether you will number among the winners or the losers of today's trends in 2026. 


Download this Executive Summary in PDF format free of charge


Thanks to our cooperation with s.Oliver , we are able to provide the study to you free of charge. Please don’t hesitate to contact us or our study partner if you would like to use the results of our study to evaluate your strategy. We would love to help!

We wish you an inspiring read … and a great future!




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