A pre-cursor – this is the way I see a new generation operating in all areas of the fashion industry, not just in design but at model agencies, publications, fashion tech companies et al.
For an industry that is all about newness, it’s ironic how stubbornly fashion resists changing with the world around it. But anarchy is in the air and a slew of emerging brands are starting to chip away at the structure so militantly propped up by the old guard.
These brands make their own strategies. Designers have a long and frustrating history of struggling at the bottom of the food chain – forever vulnerable to the whims of stockists, editors and their suppliers. But with the opportunities that digital now offers, brands can sell to their customer directly, tell their own story and make their own delivery calendar. It goes without saying that wholesale and PR are extremely important facets of the industry, but these brands are taking much more into their own hands, rather than entrusting all their hopes and dreams to the unknown and the ever-changing. The can cherry pick what works for them and shed what’s strangling them.
For this new generation of brands, ethical practice is a mindset, not a marketing strategy. Why? Because having a conscience shouldn’t be a USP. Not abusing human rights, not destroying the planet, not exploiting other human beings, not harming animals, minimising waste, not leaking false stories to the press or lying to customers…these aren’t the things that should make a brand special – these are simply the acts of a functioning moral compass.
These brands resonate with their audience. They know how to balance the commercial product their customer already wants with the directional product their customer is going to want once they see it. They know how to sell out of products so that they never have to discount.
They understand their audience want a face, a philosophy, opinions on politics, culture, world news – convictions that run deeper than a T-shirt slogan. They know how to create and connect a community.
They are collaborative, multi-disciplinary and understand the importance of building a wider brand world, a platform that can communicate more than product alone.
They understand the importance of diversity and inclusivity in their content, campaigns and teams. Like sustainability, this is inherent to how they think and operate, not merely a PR strategy. These brands turn their back on the sycophancy, nepotism, classism and favouritism that has for so long held the fashion industry back from progress. They are creating a more democratic way forward, where talent is rewarded with opportunity.
The wheels are in motion and necessary, systematic change is coming – whether the industry likes it or not. And I for one am pretty fucking excited.