Recently a fashion entrepreneur came to me and told me she wanted to start a new division for her company. She was struggling with her existing fashion business and thought maybe she should go in a different direction. Covid had hit her business hard, and she knew the way she had done business for years was no longer working.
Something had to change.
Our industry has radically morphed over the past 2 years, and companies need to change with it if they hope to survive. And it’s not just startups. Many big brands are pivoting and are trying to cope with this new reality. They are not looking to just survive but to thrive.
The good news is that many are winning at the new game of fashion business.
What does this mean to you as someone ready to start something new?
I know you are probably nervous, and I don’t blame you. However, remember that many companies that started in the year 1929 during the great recession are still doing well to this day.
It’s like having a baby. There is never a perfect time.
You just have to get started.
Getting started does not mean throwing a business together, selling it hard, and hoping it makes money. That plan might have worked once upon a time, but believe me, it works no longer. These days we must be more thoughtful when it comes to setting up your business even before you sell piece number one.
What does that mean?
It means you have to start thinking like a brand even if that is not your intention. The following are the 7 things you must do to be successful:
- What is your USP? When creating a brand you have to consider how you are going to stand out from the competition. As we marketing people like to call it – know your USP (unique selling proposition). Make sure you have a reason to exist that’s uniquely you, since the industry is very crowded with many players. We don’t need more of the same product. But if you have an unique approach, then there is a reason for customers to buy from you.
- Do a competitive analysis to study your market. Next, you can plan your product accordingly. Study the brands and their products so you can see how your product competes in look, quality, and price. After all, even the most spontaneous voyages need a little planning!
- Messaging. Develop a message for your brand that will resonate emotionally with your customer. People are hungry for meaning, so really think carefully about what your brand means to them.
- Great Product Make sure you have a kick-butt product. Mediocre doesn’t cut it anymore (if it ever did).
- Competitive pricing Your pricing must make sense in the market that you are in, and it must have a strong value price ratio.
- The Covid 19 effect. After 2 years of living through the pandemic and coming on our third year there are very specific trends that are happening. One is
supply chain issues. Due to covid-19 many workers were forced to stay at home. Employees at mills, button makers, trim firms, and factories to name a few missed a lot of time at their jobs and products weren’t made. This has caused great delays in products being shipped. When they were finally ready to ship there was such a backload that shipping itself was delayed. This drove up shipping costs. Which has increased prices. Consumers are going to see price increases in all products not just fashion. As vendors we are going to see that impact our sales. So we may not sell as many units, but the sales dollars per item will increase. Keep this in mind when you price your garments. Speak with your freight forwarded to see how the supply chain issues will specifically effect your prices.
- Sales Channels Another result of the Covid 19 effect is how companies are selling products. Before a lot of products were sold in stores that consumers shopped at. Now people are buying on-line at numbers that far exceed what happened before the quarantines. To further exacerbate the decrease in store sales is the limited products in stores. This is how management is dealing with store sales going down. It almost a self fulfilling prophecy. The more the stores decrease the product assortment the more frustrating it is for a customer to shop in stores, which decreases sales even further. As founders we need to consider foraying deep into cultivating a strong B to C (business to consumer) sales strategy.
Finally, don’t be discouraged by the challenges facing you in starting a new brand.
Just make sure that you are considering all these factors as you get going. You need to go all out to make sure your business is as buttoned up as the industry demands.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make money in fashion any more. That’s just not the case.
You do, however, need to have all your ducks in a row and make sure that you’re living up to the expectations of the new, transformed fashion market.
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