Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Modern Fashion: Meg Fisher of FIBR Studios On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today

An Interview With Candice Georgiadice

Provide value through experience — Brand loyalty is difficult to achieve as consumers will often shop to find the best price rather than the best value. Often you will have one chance to impress a new customer and it needs to be effective to justify your higher price of different products. A brand that I worked with was classified as “slow fashion” and offered free alterations to pant hems or sleeve lengths. In addition, if you tore or ripped the garment; it would be repaired free of charge. Service is often lost through online shopping so providing an experience where possible is key to success. Another example is to provide personalized packaging of your product, so the customer understands the brand is not only proud of their product but takes care with every order. A handwritten thank you note in an online order goes a long way!

Many in the fashion industry have been making huge pivots in their business models. Many have turned away from the fast fashion trend. Many have been focusing on fashion that also makes a social impact. Many have turned to sustainable and ethical sourcing. Many have turned to hi tech manufacturing. Many have turned to subscription models. What are the other trends that we will see in the fashion industry? What does it take to lead a successful fashion brand today?

In our series called, “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today” we are talking to successful leaders of fashion brands who can talk about the Future of Fashion and the 5 things it takes to lead a successful fashion brand in our “new normal.”

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Meg Fisher.

As a passionate and creative professional with end to end business experience, Meg has found herself specialising in product development, branding and sustainable fashion. After working for a manufacturer early in her career; Meg discovered the huge gap between creativity and business acumen in the fashion industry which led to her studies and then creating her company FIBR Studios. Her business seeks to provide practical resources for designers and brands of all sizes to scale their business in a profitable yet sustainable way.

Proven ability to design forward-thinking apparel and create solutions to sustainability issues in the fashion industry. Meg has expertise in the Adobe Suite, especially Illustrator and Photoshop as well as experience in data analysis software such as R programming. Majoring in marketing, whilst completing a Bachelor of Design/Commerce double degree, has allowed Meg to combine her creative flair and business acumen. As a designer, she is able to use her experience and diverse skills and turn them into an outcome-based approach to solving problems in the fashion industry.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

For me, I was always super creative growing up and spent as much time as possible studying red carpet looks or simple browsing stores to see what was trending and to simply “get amongst” fabrics and anything to do with clothes. My mum is super creative and could sew anything we wanted which was incredible to watch. I loved shopping and nothing felt better than a new purchase. However, at this time I had little knowledge of what happened behind the scenes in the fashion industry; this all changed when I moved to London to intern at an ethical clothing manufacturer. Seeing first-hand the amount of skill, time and resources that went into making a simple T-shirt pivoted my career and changed my consumer habits entirely.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

Whilst I was always creative growing up; something about saying you want to be a fashion designer does lead to a particular “eye roll” from most people. Pursuing a creative career is often discouraged and this did influence the subjects I took at school, opting for Economics and Math over Art or even Textiles. It wasn’t until I was filling out my application for university and saw that you could apply with a portfolio and letter of inspiration instead. I chose to write a letter about how I am most “me” when I am creating, and this led to early acceptance into university. And whilst; I chose to study two degrees, one business based and one creative, it was still a great experience early on to realize that creative efforts can get you the results you want. From there I decided to use my creative skills as my point of difference in business settings and have found the combination ideal.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Designing dog bathrobes would be up there; however, most fashion weeks take the cake. It is a mad song and dance to finish the collections, get the models out there and ensure the show goes smoothly. Much of which never happens! I find it so hilarious that even though you could start preparing for fashion week, or any fashion deadline really, one year in advance there will always be a mad rush in the end. Creativity works on no timeline, I guess! I do wonder if fashion weeks will become irrelevant soon as they do seem more drama and stress than they are worth. But there is something spectacular when watching the show; seeing fashion in its best light paired with an incredible atmosphere. Plus, people watching in the crowd sometimes is more exciting; some of the outfits you see are WOW!

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

For me, having authenticity, integrity and consistency are the three traits I have used to succeed. Authenticity is so important in a world where everyone is trying to be someone else or project a different story than their true self. Clients will see through smoke and mirrors quickly, so be honest in your conversations. Most people will agree to contracts based on connection rather than being impressed. Being honest will build trust and lead to lifelong connections with customers and businesses. This ties into integrity, which I find very rare in the fashion world. Whilst clothing can tell a story; your reputation and work ethic can’t be dressed up. Figure out what kinds of brands you want to align with and stick to this. Working outside your moral code will leave everyone involved unhappy. And finally, consistency; it is rare you will succeed immediately, and many will not stick around to see if they succeed after one year of trying. If you are consistent and continue to try; your efforts will lead to success.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What I love is that we work with brands of all sizes and offerings. Being open to other people’s ideas and visions allows us to learn as a team and be inspired by other peoples’ fashion journeys, whether it be Day 1 or Day 1000. We offer cost-friendly and flexible options for brands, so the experience of collaborating feels mutually exciting. The most interesting clothing ideas have come from people I least expected; in this way, we want to close the bridge between idea and product for all clients. Making the designing and production process of brands is what we want to be known for.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

Whilst it might be obvious to some and not for others; I would say my favorite quote is “If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it”. Such simple but powerful words to live by especially when many of us fall into a life designed for us by somebody else. When I took the chance to quit my job and start my business, I found criticism not personal to me but found it was others projecting their fear of doing the same onto me. I had always envisioned being my own boss and building a company; it was more of a matter of when to take that chance. Plenty of time; it has felt like the easy option to slip back into a 9–5 job but this company, and industry really, is all I think about so therefore I will continue to pursue it. I love that this saying can be applied to any situation in life; whether big or small and it also encourages you to trust your intuition; which is an important tool that shouldn’t be overlooked!

Can you share how your brand is helping to bring goodness to the world?

The universality of fashion inspires us; everyone wears clothes at the end of the day. However, whilst fashion and creativity inspire us; what the industry is doing to the planet is shocking and can be improved if we reject the idea of fast fashion and call upon brands as well as consumers to take responsibility. We really want to provide guidance to brands and ask them “Is it ethical to start or continue creating clothing in the way that I am?”. Once the conversation starts; there are so many ways we can help improve and radicalize the way clothes are designed, sampled, produced, shipped, and delivered. Embracing change is often difficult when your profit margins are closing in, but industry-wide change is vital for any kind of environmental longevity, and this is more important than clothing at the end of the day. Therefore, we hope to bring goodness to the world through educating brands and consumers on the realities of the fashion industries and then providing creative solutions to the issues faced.

Can you share with our readers about the ethical standards you use when you choose where to source materials?

Where possible, we help brands source material from waste. We encourage brands to visit recycling facilities and tips that often serve as great sources of inspiration too! In an ideal world, brands would donate deadstock freely but many brands, especially luxury brands, will, unfortunately, bin it to ensure exclusivity. We always suggest sourcing locally; to support small businesses and reduce freight emissions where possible. In addition, when buying materials online suppliers will often label them as “eco-friendly” as a buzzword, it is difficult to vet the legitimacy of their business operations. If they do source materials online; we suggest asking for certifications such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and BCI (Better Cotton Initiative). However, depending on what kind of fiber you are sourcing; the certifications will differ.

Fast fashion has an advantage, that it is affordable for most people, but it also has the drawback that it does not last very long and is therefore not very sustainable. What are your thoughts about this? How does your company address this question?

Fast fashion is a relatively new business model, and it has done more harm than good. Whilst it can provide affordable options to consumers it does not provide quality which therefore leads to more waste and additional demand for more. We do not work with any fast fashion brands and will turn down contracts if we can see the client does not have a desire to practice sustainable methods of design and production. We strive to show consumers that one $60 T-shirt made from GOTS certified cotton will outlast 3 or 5 $10 T shirts. Working with brands that deliver value is more important to us. In addition, we believe fast fashion reduces the chances of any small business succeeding in the industry. It encourages people to buy more than they need and oversaturates the market. Brands that are producing at smaller quantities and with ethical manufacturers will never be able to compete with fast fashion price points and we think this is devastating. The low cost of fast fashion means that someone, somewhere along the supply chain is footing this cost physically through slave labor or poor working conditions. We do not support anyone who thinks this model is acceptable.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand”. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Consistency — For me, consistency is number one. Watching so many brands accelerate the launching process only to take the foot off the pedal once they launch is something I see daily. When instant success doesn’t happen, instead of trying harder they retreat and often that will be the end of the road for many. For example, I think of this example all the time; there a brand in 2019 creating face masks, with the purpose of travel hygiene. At the time I was doing PR for them, and it was a completely foreign concept to many who came across the brand. When success wasn’t instant, they decided to stop production and move to travel accessories as they believed the “grass” was greener there. Fast forward 6 months and the global pandemic struck, and they missed a multi-million opportunity because they couldn’t be consistent in their efforts, product, and branding. I only worked temporarily for them and when I searched for them during the pandemic, when face masks were in an all-time demand, they were nowhere to be seen. The moral of the story is the customer is out there and often it is your job to find them through consistent efforts; that is often the only difference between successful and failed brands.
  2. Find a Niche. Find a Community — Attempting to create a brand that provides clothing for men, women and children is near impossible today given the competition you are going up against. Even creating clothing under the umbrella of “women’s clothing” is sadly not enough of a selling point. To succeed in the oversaturated market of fashion you need to find a niche and capitalize on bringing a product to this niche community that holds value to them. For example, I worked with a brand that was founded by farming women. They initially created a brand because they could not find a suitable supplier of maternity friendly farming clothes. It sounds limiting to begin with, but through providing value and purpose they were able to build a community that appreciated and wanted to buy their clothes. Since then, the range has expanded to non-maternity farming wear, farming accessories, farming events and much more. I would recommend finding a gap in the market that you may find “small” but remember there are nearly 8 billion potential customers and you can bet other consumers have felt this gap in the market too.
  3. Unique Selling Point (USP) — Even within a niche community, your brand or design needs to hold a unique selling point (USP) so that competitors struggle to copy. Finding a USP is incredibly important when creating a brand and it should even overlap into your branding where possible. A way this could work is by incorporating green into a logo if you are providing sustainable clothing options. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a USP or for your brand to be providing a solution to a gap in the industry; we see hundreds of brands a week trying to start out and only a few will make it.
    Look for a way to stand out! For example, several brands may sell activewear in the same city but only one provides a matching face mask from the same material. Or one brand may make the activewear from waterproof material meaning it can double as swimwear. Simple considerations can make all the difference as customers have more choices than ever and will be looking for a reason to choose you over the rest.
  4. Don’t try to “do it all” — Starting and owning a fashion brand is hard and you must remember; you can’t please everyone and if you do, you will be put out of business. It might be hard to watch your brand fall short of brands like Nike but, you are operating on a scale that doesn’t allow for free shipping, free returns, offering sizes from XXS-XXXL and using high-quality technical fabric. Rather than trying to compete with brands of huge scale, embrace the level you are at now and use it as inspiration to get to a size where you can offer the same. Be transparent with customers and admit that you are “working towards offering more inclusive sizing or a wider range of colorways”. Give your brand grace to expand in the right time and trust you will always attempt to provide the best product or service possible with the resources you have. But also remember to take profit and pay yourself!!
  5. Provide value through experience — Brand loyalty is difficult to achieve as consumers will often shop to find the best price rather than the best value. Often you will have one chance to impress a new customer and it needs to be effective to justify your higher price of different products. A brand that I worked with was classified as “slow fashion” and offered free alterations to pant hems or sleeve lengths. In addition, if you tore or ripped the garment; it would be repaired free of charge. Service is often lost through online shopping so providing an experience where possible is key to success. Another example is to provide personalized packaging of your product, so the customer understands the brand is not only proud of their product but takes care with every order. A handwritten thank you note in an online order goes a long way!

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

In my opinion, the biggest issue in the industry is transparency between brands and consumers. We can see the shift happen originally in the food industry; with certifications such as Fair Trade Certified and Non-GMO allowing customers to understand the quality and process of how their food is sourced. With fashion, there are little to no mandated certifications that brands must pass in order to bring their clothing to the market. As a result, unethical labor, poor working conditions for employees, harmful dyes, and chemicals as well as excessive packaging is simply swept under the rug. Because there are so many inputs to starting a brand and many companies do the majority of this overseas the impact their clothing has on societies and environments cannot be traced or calculated. I believe brands have a responsibility to create a transparent supply chain for not only themselves but for their customers to choose whether they support the brand or not. One of the most common excuses for brands not sharing where their clothes were made is that competitors will steal their designs and factories. I have yet to come across this actually happening and a NDA will prevent this from happening in most cases.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

For me, fast fashion has continued to exist because the current generation has no concept of the clothing production process. Previous generations would have been shown sewing to some extent during school and know basic mending skills (I find current generations throw away rather than mend). I would love to start an initiative where each student in high school is asked to create a T-shirt from scratch. The students would experience how long it took as well as learn the average cost of each material and then be asked how much they would sell it for if they paid themselves a living wage for the time spent. This movement would be useful in teaching future consumers the amount of effort and resources that goes into clothing production and ask them to question the unethical nature of fast fashion when they see low prices in stores etc.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Check out my blog section on https://fibr.online/ or follow us on Instagram!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store