Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief of FOXYLAB NEW YORK.
Many designers don’t create newness anymore. We are living in the era of styling, and nowadays, fashion is all about mixing and matching. Therefore, it seems natural that many big fashion designers are digging into the archives of their houses—those lucky enough to head a brand with a long history.
To illustrate, during a recent men’s show of Givenchy, the artistic director, Matthew M. Williams, used the word “archives” repeatedly to describe the looks backstage. Furthermore, brands like Dior, Valentino and Steve Madden have used their extensive archives of fashion pieces to showcase and take inspiration from.
Challenges For Those New To The Fashion Industry
But what do you do if you are a new player in this big and expensive game called fashion—no big funding backup, no archives, no past, no cribs—and are starting from scratch? How do you keep from drowning the ocean of trends and withstand the competition that becomes tougher every season?
Each fashion week in Paris, London, Milan and New York—four main platforms where the industry’s professionals gather together to present their latest products—dozens of new names appear. I’ve seen some of them make a big splash on Instagram only to sink into oblivion. Others create little buzz in the moment but come back with a durable proposition which, in the long-term, allows their brand to grow steadily and make money.
In an ever-changing ecosystem of the fashion market, there are some issues to keep in mind if you are about to launch yourself into a creative adventure.
Evaluating Your Passion And Relevancy
In the times of fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Thierry Mugler, creativity was key and probably a sufficient condition to make a name and build a house on it. Now, I’d recommend you ask yourself two main questions before getting into the business.
1. Can I live without it?
2. Is there anything I can and would love to create that people would die putting on?
Well, if you have “yes” as an answer in both cases, you are on the right path. Let’s get into the details when it comes to these questions.
Breaking Down Your Considerations
When asking “whether you can survive without it,” I mean that it should be something which you really, really like to do—something you are thinking about all the time, even at night when you are sleepless or during the weekend when everybody else is parting. It’s like looking at the world around you from a particular perspective through the prism of design, cloth and looks.
Even if it seems like from time to time you have had enough of it, a day or two later, you find yourself coming back to the same topic. This condition may seem to be extreme, but believe me, it’s necessary to be honest with yourself. And this concerns not just the fashion industry.
The second question is very relevant to our time. We can’t create something without thinking of our potential customers if we want to commercialize our product and not just fill in our leisure time. Surely, your hobby can grow into a business, but in 2023 it can happen only if you start thinking of who can consume the result of this hobby.
One major tip I have for those just starting is to launch from a single product on which you concentrate all your attention and efforts. Make it as perfect as it can be. Develop a clientele loyal to this unique piece, and only when you start to earn money on it, enlarge the range. Mono-product strategy is a very good option, to begin with. Think Crocs, Ugg, Anne Fontaine or even Louis Vuitton (yes, he started with a leather suitcase for traveling).
Bread And Circuses
To keep up with your audience, it’s important to be on top of the latest trends and adjust to the changing landscape of social media influencers. Entertainment is crucial to attracting serious clients; designers at the fashion weeks strive to incorporate innovative technologies, Instagram-worthy moments and unique experiences into their shows.
“Bread and circuses,” as the saying goes. As applied to fashion, “bread” would be considered a high quality, sustainable and unique product, while “circuses” aims to generate and maintain the media interest in the product.
As some examples, take Coperni’s show featuring a robot dog disrobing models, the dress sprayed directly on Bella Hadid on the runway, Heliot Emil’s burning man display, Stella McCartney’s live horses, Anrealage’s color-changing clothes or KidSuper’s unconventional but undoubtedly captivating, fashion-meets-stand-up-comics presentation.
The future belongs to disrupters, and the fashion industry—in many ways stuck in a revisiting of the past—badly needs innovators. My final advice: In a world looking to the archives, don’t be afraid to trailblaze, push the boundaries, experiment and think outside the box.
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