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What to consider before launching a fashion brand

by Ana Lopez
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Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief of FOXYLAB NEW YORK.

Many designers no longer create novelty. We live in the era of styling and nowadays fashion is all about mixing and matching. That’s why it seems logical for many great fashion designers to dig into their home archives – those lucky enough to lead a brand with a long history.

To illustrate, at a recent Givenchy men’s show, the artistic director, Matthew M. Williams, used the word “archivesrepeatedly to describe the looks backstage. Furthermore, brands such as Dior, Valentino and Steve Madden have used them extensive archives of fashion pieces to display and draw inspiration from.

Challenges for those new to the fashion industry

But what do you do when you’re a new player in this big and expensive game called fashion – no big financial backup, no records, no past, no cribs – and start all over again? How do you make sure you don’t drown the ocean of trends and withstand the competition that gets tougher every season?

Every fashion week in Paris, London, Milan and New York – four major platforms where industry professionals gather to showcase their latest products – dozens of new names appear. I’ve seen some of them make a big impression on Instagram only to fade into obscurity. Others are creating little buzz at the moment, but come back with a sustainable proposition that will allow their brand to grow steadily and make money over the long term.

In an ever-changing fashion market ecosystem, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re about to embark on a creative adventure.

Evaluate your passion and relevance

In the days of fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Thierry Mugler, creativity was key and probably a sufficient condition to make a name for yourself and build a house on it. Now I would suggest you ask yourself two main questions before you get into the business.

1. Can I live without it?

2. Is there something I can and would like to create that would kill people?

Well, if your answer is “yes” in either case, you’re on the right track. Let’s get into the details when it comes to these questions.

Break down your considerations

When I ask ‘can you survive without it’ I mean it has to be something you really, really enjoy doing – something you think about all the time, even at night when you’re sleepless or on weekends when everyone else is saying goodbye It’s like looking at the world around you from a certain perspective through the prism of design, fabric and appearance.

Even if at times it seems like you’ve had enough, a day or two later you find yourself returning to the same subject. This condition may seem extreme, but believe me, it is necessary to be honest with yourself. And this does not only concern the fashion industry.

The second question is very relevant for our time. We cannot create anything without thinking about our potential customers if we want to commercialize our product and not just fill our spare time. Of course, your hobby can grow into a business, but in 2023 it can only happen if you start thinking about who can consume the result of this hobby.

An important tip I have for those just starting out is to launch from a single product where you focus all your attention and efforts. Make it as perfect as possible. Develop a customer base that is loyal to this one-of-a-kind piece, and only when you start making money off it, increase the range. Mono product strategy is a very good option to start with. Think Crocs, Ugg, Anne Fontaine or even Louis Vuitton (yes, he started with a leather suitcase).

Bread and games

To keep up with your audience, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and adapt to the changing landscape of social media influencers. Entertainment is crucial to attract serious customers; designers at the fashion weeks strive to incorporate innovative technologies, Instagrammable moments and unique experiences into their shows.

“Bread and circuses”, as the saying goes. Applied to fashion, ‘bread’ would be considered a high-quality, sustainable and unique product, while ‘circus’ aims to generate and maintain media attention for the product.

Take Coperni’s show as an example a robot dog that undresses modelsthe dress sprayed directly on Bella Hadid on the runway, Heliot Emil’s burning man exhibition, Stella McCartney’s live horsesfrom realage color changing clothes or KidSuper’s unconventional but undoubtedly captivating, fashion meets stand up comics presentation.

The future belongs to disruptors, and the fashion industry, in many ways mired in revisiting the past, desperately needs innovators. My final piece of advice: In a world that looks to the records, don’t be afraid to break new ground, push the boundaries, experiment and think outside the box.

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