The British Fashion Council is no stranger to the woes of most fashion businesses. Sure, they’re crammed with creative people, always generating new ideas. But they’re also struggling to hit the big time. In fact, the sobering truth is that many designers can’t even make a living right now.
This prompted the Fashion Council to take action. They got a bunch of fashion designers, business experts, PR people and media representatives around the table. And they resolved to thrash out some much-needed advice for struggling fashion businesses. Here’s what they came up with.
Understand What Product Development Means
One of the problems that many companies face is the challenge of product development. For small fashion businesses, it can be a particularly acute problem. Most small fashion businesses go for the canonical scatter-gun approach. They churn out dozens of different designs, many of which use a different design language. The experts at the Fashion Council strongly recommend against this type of approach. Instead, they advise fashion businesses to start off small. Focus on a few core lines that are distinctive to the company itself. Fashion companies need to make sure that customers have that “aha” moment when they see their product. From there, the product can be developed. New materials can be added, and new lines expanded.
The Difficulties Of Production
Fashion businesses usually start out life with a bunch of fabrics and a sewing machine. But the reality of commercial production is often staggeringly different. For starters, you’re often not just dealing with a single vendor. Most of the time, you’ll have to coordinate multiple vendors and customers in unison. And second, production schedules are often very tricky to keep track of and coordinate. Often, there will be significant a delay before you can take delivery of new items. Managing all of this by hand is next to impossible. So the recommendation is that firms use enterprise resource planning. There is clothing, jewellery and footwear ERP software available to the industry right now.
Find Sales And Distribution Channels
The way that most fashion businesses get their break is when a big retailer decides to take them on. Once they’ve got a retail deal, the sky is often the limit. But getting that all-important deal can be challenging. This is where fashion businesses need to put on their business hats. It’s not enough to just point out the quality of your own product. Firms need to think a couple of steps ahead about how their brand fits in with that of the retailer. Retail pitches are usually derailed when a brand doesn’t fit in with that the retailer wants. Be selective about who you approach.
Be Clear About Identity
The Fashion Director of the New York Times recently had some wise words for fashion businesses. They need to be doing things that don’t make sense in the context of other brands. If Dior or Louis Vuitton can do it, then there’s just no point other brands going in that direction. Fashion businesses need an idea that can’t be emulated by the big players if they’re going to move their firms forward.