The Digital Revolution: The Role of Technology in Transforming Fashion Design, Branding, and Marketing

Submission deadline date: 31 July 2024


The cost-of-living crisis has put further pressure on brands’ supply chains and their ability to appeal to consumers who have increasingly less disposable income. This is in addition to a decade that has seen physical retail stores struggling, with commercial vacancies on high streets higher than ever (Journal of Retailing, 2022). The Centre for Retail Research estimates that since the start of 2018 alone more than 386,000 retail jobs will have been lost in the UK (Deloitte, 2021). This highlights the imperative for retailers to reconsider their physical store strategies and focus on in-store design in order to create more immersive, phygital experiences for customers.

Technology is pivotal way for retailers to enhance aspects concerning their design, branding, and marketing. The latest technology is enabling brands to reach consumers more directly that ever before (Journal of Retailing, 2022), thereby dramatically changing the way that brands communicate with consumers (Pizzi & Scarpi 2020). Yet, with increasingly advanced technologies coming out each year, coupled with the shortening of technology life cycles, retailers need to constantly reimagine their strategies to remain competitive in a rapidly changing environment. As consumers have become used to interacting with new technologies, they leave their favourite brands with no choice but to implement them in order to keep up with the competition (Boardman, Henninger & Zhu, 2020).

This intense competition means that online fashion retailers must offer a superior online shopping experience than their competitors (Kaushik et al., 2020). This places more pressure on creating compelling retail websites and omnichannel experiences. In online and social commerce, consumers are unable to inspect products physically, therefore having to make purchase decisions by looking at online images, reading product descriptions, and then using their imagination (Li et al., 2019; Hjort et al., 2019). The inconsistency between purchased products and expectations is an essential manifestation of product dissonance (Powers & Jack, 2015). This is increasing the likelihood of consumer returns which is having a significant negative affect on the environment. Furthermore, such product inconsistency can cause significant damage to retailers and brands (Li & Choudhury, 2020). As a result, further research is needed to investigate how ecommerce and social commerce can be more effective and reduce the high rate of returns.

With new social media channels coming out all the time brands need to ensure that they are on the ones that appeal to their target market and that their content is engaging. Livestreaming on social media is becoming more commonplace, enabling brands to increase consumer awareness whilst also driving sales (Journal of Retailing, 2022). The future of social commerce has many potential avenues, such as incorporating Augmented Reality and voice search in order to enhance consumer experiences (Chrimes et al., 2019). Brands can also use social platforms to embed gamification to appeal to consumers’ desire for personalisation, self-expression, and playfulness online, aspects that have increased since the pandemic (Chen et al., 2022). Whittaker et al. (2021) show that gamification can even be used for sustainability marketing and in encouraging more sustainable consumer behaviour but research into wider demographics is still needed. Indeed, Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010 approximately) are now growing as a consumer force. Not only do they have their own spending power and are no longer reliant upon parents, they also have strong and distinctive wants and needs that retailers and brands need to provide for (Deloitte 2021).

Furthermore, advances in the metaverse are creating more challenges as well as more opportunities for design, branding and marketing. Yet to be fully realised, the metaverse is conceptualised as being an interconnected, 3D virtual world that overlaps with, or provides an alternative to, physical reality and is inhabited by avatars of real people (Kim, 2021). Hence, it signifies the ultimate merging of digital and physical reality (WGSN, 2020). The pressure is now on brands to partner with retailers in order to create new and compelling virtual experiences for consumers (Journal of Retailing, 2022). Thus, as brands are entering the metaverse through consumer-facing technologies and virtual platforms, such as AR, gaming and digital fashion shows, research addressing the opportunities and barriers in relation to marketing, design and branding is warranted. Areas such as Digital Avatars, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, NFTs, Blockchain, Gamification in Marketing, Blockchain, Digital Fashion, Virtual Brand Experiences and Artificial Intelligence are all gaining traction in response to this.

As such, retailers need to re-address their design, branding and marketing to include the latest technologies to survive in a post-pandemic world. This special issue calls for scholarly, conceptual, empirical and practitioner papers in the areas of design, branding and marketing.

The International Colloquium on Design, Branding and Marketing (ICDBM) will host a Conference related to this special issue on December 5-7, 2023, at the University of Manchester. Papers presented at (or attendance to) the conference will not impact the editorial process or acceptance of papers in the special issue.


Boardman, R., Henninger, C.E., Zhu, A., (2020). ‘Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – New Drivers For Fashion Retail?’, in Technology-Driven Sustainability: Innovation in the Fashion Supply Chain, Vignali, G., Reid, L., Ryding, D., Henninger, C.E. (Eds), London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.155-172.
Chen, R., Perry, P., Boardman, R., McCormick, H. (2022). ‘Augmented reality in retail: a systematic review of research foci and future research agenda’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 50(4), pp. 498-518.
Chrimes, C., Boardman, R., Henninger, C.E., (2019). ‘The Challenges and Future Opportunities of Social Commerce’, in Social commerce: Consumer Behaviour In Online Environments, Boardman, R., Blazquez, M., Henninger, C.E., Ryding, D., (Eds.), London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 255-272
Deloitte (2021). ‘What next for the high street? Part One: the way things are now’. January 2021. Available at: deloitte-uk-what-next-for-the-high-street-part1.pdf
Hjort, K., Hellström, D., Karlsson, S., Oghazi, P. (2019). ‘Typology of practices for managing consumer returns in internet retailing’, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 49(7), pp. 767–790.
Journal of Retailing (2022). ‘Who owns the brand in the digital retailscape? Revisiting the power balance’, Journal of Retailing, 2022, ISSN 0022-4359,
Kaushik, V., Khare, A., Boardman, R., Blazquez, M. (2020). 'Why Do Online Retailers Succeed? The Identification and Prioritization of Success Factors for Indian Fashion Retailers', Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 39, Jan-Feb 2020:
Kim, J., (2021). ‘Advertising in the Metaverse: Research Agenda’, Journal of Interactive Advertising, 21(3), pp. 141-144.
Li, J., Yang, R., Cui, J., Guo, Y. (2019). ‘Imagination Matters When You Shop Online: The Moderating Role of Mental Simulation Between Materialism and Online Impulsive Buying’, Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 12, pp. 1071–1079.
Li, M., Choudhury, A. H. (2020). ‘Using website information to reduce postpurchase dissonance: A mediated moderating role of perceived risk’, Psychology & Marketing, 38(1), pp. 56–69.
Pizzi, G., Scarpi, D. (2020). ‘Privacy threats with retail technologies: A consumer perspective’, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 56, pp. 102160.
Powers, T. L., Jack, E. P. (2015). ‘Understanding the causes of retail product returns’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 43(12), pp. 1182–1202. WGSN (2020). Research Radar: Entering the Metaverse.
Whittaker, L., Mulcahy, R., Russell-Bennett, R., (2021). ‘Go with the flow’ for gamification and sustainability marketing’, International Journal of Information Management, 61, 2021, 102305, ISSN 0268-4012.

List of topic areas

  • How have recent events in the economy (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic, cost of living crisis etc) shaped priorities for design, branding, and/or marketing?
  • What is the role of digital technology in future-proofing the industry?
  • How can technology be used to enhance retailers' design, branding and/or marketing?
  • What are the opportunities of new, upcoming technologies (e.g. the metaverse) for Design, Branding or Marketing?
  • What are the barriers relating to new technologies for Design, Branding or Marketing?
  • What are opportunities for scholarship to address the era of technology in design, marketing & branding subjects?
  • Does the integral use of technology in young consumers' lives affect the way that students are taught in marketing, design, and branding subject areas?

Submissions Information

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Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to "Please select the issue you are submitting to".

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 31st January, 2024

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31st July, 2024

Email for submissions: [email protected]