Why we need a thriving Independent Fashion Brands ecosystem!
The independent fashion brand has long been the juice which fuels the fashion industry, for too long the designers of these brands have been commoditised, dictated to by larger powers in the industry and unable to form their own market influence in a meaningful collective way. At Riset whilst working, networking and interviewing numerous independent designers i have identified some pain points and made an attempt to find solutions, listed below:
If you are a Londoner or visiting London looking for the brand who make and sell their products in London, you would either have to travel individually around London looking for these stores or visit the many fashion markets in London. Both of these tasks take a week of your time, are physically and can be fruitless after that mission is completed.
The big global brands have this, its called the high street, oxford street and many malls across London. As a country which depends on many SME fashion brands to create the majority of jobs and the majority of growth this is simple unacceptable. The tech world has figured this out, using practices from silicon valley, London created it own version called the silicon roundabout located in the Old Street area. Its not quite silicon valley as the saying goes ‘the something of somewhere is usually the nothing of nowhere.
But what the silicon roundabout has created is a startup community and a way for companies to connect with each other and put in a united front to have market acceptance, investors and B2B interests.
The key to this are accelerators, co-working spaces and community events to share ideas and see what everyone is up to.
Fashion needs this, we have markets but they don’t provide the benefits tech companies get from their own communities.
A solution using the current retail model would be to create a mall in which independent fashion brand inhabit without the big brands but in a high traffic area such as oxford street. This would need the backing of many small brands or the backing of the fashion colleges, growing brands and government. Similar to how businesses and the government helped build the old street tech city.
As i am writing and publishing this post, its is London Fashion Week, a week dedicated to London Fashion designers and brands to showcase to the world what the London fashion community offers. This i wish was the case, there are many brands who manufacture abroad and outsource design and are taxed in multiple countries outside of the UK. These are not the brands we need to see at London Fashion week.
A solution to this would be to have a dedicated week for the independent fashion brands who create in their home countries and sell abroad.
We could have a global fashion show in for every country around the world in which designers from those countries are promoted.
- Digital platforms
The internet has grown up, i no longer search online for cheap white headphones. I search for high value products which inevitably come with a high price. Online marketplaces are no longer deal machines but are now all about access.
When i want to find a brand i know, i search it, and aim to buy from a seller or a trusted source. Things like stranger reviews and you may like this are inefficient stopgaps failing to tackle the bigger picture. We want what we want now.
Many other consumer items have tackled this but i has yet to be adequately fixed by the fashion retail market. Companies like Asos have included the long tail of products with a spin off Asos marketplace and the emergence of fashion retail apps have with a social element such as Depop.
Instagram influences fashion more than anything as there is high attention and high trust through social connections, it just cant be measured or sold through effectively.
I feel a solution to the immediate issues involving lack of social eCommerce integration and benefit to the independent fashion designers is a platform in which people can easily search for the independent fashion brands as well as create looks and collections mixing and matching the unique products based on their personal style, thus building trust for the products among their friends and their followers in the platform.
This type of social commerce is yet to exist and it creates a transactional model and a social model but it contains most of the ingredients which a mobile eCommerce platform requires.
In all of my life i have never seen soo much fashion magazines, the issue i have with this industry filled with new ideas and energy is that it isnt targeted at the clothes but mainly at the brands who are willing to advertise and the people they can get hold of (youtubers, instagram models and their friends new apparel brand). Very few are filled with outstanding design of artistic nature but have simply taken a reality tv business model an printed it on glossy paper.
A solution would be to create a publication containing inspirational stories, quality and feasible design for a given market all this done within a collective which is properly incentivised to product and promote quality content that supports the industry as a whole rather than individual vendors.
At Riset we are trying to do all of these things, it is not just to turn a profit though we do aim to do this as we believe it will be the optimum way to ensure this work is sustainable. We are doing this because its will help create a world in which people who love what they do can live comfortably doing so and it helps build nations across the world to enable them to build fashion brands at scale, connect and create relations based on deep interests and be inspired by the unique styles we love in order to find our own.
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