Before creating a line of high-end bags or minimalist pieces, fashion founders need to have vision and purpose in how they’re going to fit within a cultural lens.
Similarly to tech, if your product loses relevance with your target audience, your company likely will not succeed. Capture your cultural relevance within your mission statement – past or present. Does your company focus on your cultural heritage by pulling patterns and colors from a specific time period? Are you capturing a female-empowered audience from today’s #metoo movement? How will this reflect in your selection choices of fabric, patterns, and colors? Align your product with your brand’s messaging to stay relevant.
Fashion is breaks the ice, gets people talking, and disturbs the status quo. Old and outdated elements can quickly come back in style by the blessing of a major brand. Take, for example, Balenciaga’s latest SS19 fashion show that featured all of the san serif fonts that you buried in your closet – Impact,Garamond, and (dare I say it) Comic Sans. Along with its recent endorsement of Microsoft Word fonts, Balenciaga has been known to pull out all the tricks including this $1,300 t-shirt shirt. Will these pieces actually sell? Will people actually wear them? The answer isn’t as important as the amount of conversation it will stir in the fashion community.
Timeless, classic and worn by all – high ambitions of many fashion founders. Just like with other companies launching their brand, do your research to determine where your niche. Know their likes and dislikes, what they do for work, and where they like to travel. For example, if your brand focuses on women between the ages of 18-35, it may be time to go back to the drawing table. College students, rising professionals, and first time moms will likely not have the same interests (nor financial backing) to support their rising fashion interests. Within this niche, make sure your company is searchable. Consider the recent announcement of Michael Kors’ rebrand after its acquisition of Versace. According to SimilarWeb, Michael Kors took the lead in searches (about 890,000 monthly visits) compared to Versace’s 170,000. If you can’t quite nail down your audience, you’ll soon become like Versace.
Burberry is the textbook example of all the right things a fashion brand should do after bringing Christopher Bailey on board.
Riccardo Tisci took over as Chief Creative Officer in March, 2018. In his first product launch, Tisci released a Thomas Burberry Monogram logo t-shirt for a whopping $400 – only available for 24 hours. In the history of the 162 year old company, Tisci’s Burberry debut made history as the first digital selling experience for Burberry fans via social media only. And in his latest magic trick, Tisci revealed a new pattern with hints of honey and red. Although there’s mixed opinion on this design, Burberry continues to move its brand “forward” – mirroring its mission in continuing as a forward-thinking brand.
If you're a fashion founder (or considering becoming one), define your company vision first before bringing pen to paper. Consider your brand as a mover and shaker that bounces off cultural influences of the latest (or historical) trends. What's the emotion that you want your fashion to evoke? What are the branding standards in your digital marketing campaigns? How will someone automatically recognize a piece from your collection? How will you break away from the noise? Inject your branding strategy with the same creative edge you bring to your fashion design.