The fashion industry is unique and paradoxical. It’s about a product that is a basic need of humanity, yet it’s also part of a cultural and social phenomenon, and the goal for much of the industry is to create constant change—and generate the desire in the customer to replace one item with another.
Yet in many ways, fashion is just like any other consumer product. You need to understand the desires of your customer and respond to them, and somehow stand out in a crowded marketplace. Without name-brand recognition or awareness of your brand, reaching your target purchaser can remain elusive.
Just as with any other business, you need a strategy.
As a startup fashion brand, your strategy should focus on being different, and delivering unique value to your consumers. For that, you will need to know your industry, your competition, what you do better than others, and what makes you unique. And once you’ve got that all wrapped up, you need to tell your story in a way that will capture your customer’s interests, then deliver your product at the right price through the most efficient channels.
Where to begin?
Start by answering the following questions, and if you have employees or market research, gather the information from those sources, too.
What is different about you?
What makes you the only?
Why should consumers care?
How do you plan to reach your customers?
Who are your customers?
Who is your competition?
What is your industry?
Where are you competing?
These are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself before and during the startup phase of your fashion brand, and this is why it’s crucial to know about strategy and to implement it into your business. To have a successful fashion brand, you simply must have a strategy. So, let’s get started.
A successful strategy encompasses five main stages:
1. Develop a strategic vision of your company’s future, a mission that defines your purpose, and a set of core values that guide the pursuit of the vision and mission.
A strategic vision is the guiding, ambitious goal for your company. It may be a lofty and ambitious goal. For example, imagine you create bespoke organic silk bridalwear. Perhaps your strategic vision is to become known for the highest quality, most superior bridalwear available, such that you displace other competitor bridalwear brands and gain worldwide recognition. Your strategic vision may or may not be achievable, but it’s there for direction and purpose.
2. Set objectives to convert the vision and mission into specific targets, which will also help you measure your company’s performance.
Your objectives flow from your overall strategy. This means breaking down the overriding strategic vision and mission into smaller components, goals, and targets and determining how these will be integrated throughout your business (i.e., design, manufacturing, distribution, retail sales, presentation and packaging, etc.) This requires careful consideration and the ability to define the steps and responsibilities of any personnel you hire or contract with, and outline the day-to-day actions needed to accomplish these steps.
3. Craft a strategy to achieve your objectives and move your company along the strategic course that you have charted.
It’s important to remember a couple of things while you’re working on these next steps: (a) Make sure anyone who works with you isn’t overwhelmed with too many targets or goals. So making the correct choices, identifying concrete steps, and retaining the correct focus is essential in preventing goal overwhelm and fatigue. At the same time, if there are too few goals, employees and contractors won’t be able to see the through-line and thus will find it difficult to maintain focus. (b) Your plan for moving your strategy along should be clearly communicated to your team, all personnel, and contractors—everyone in the value chain.
4. Execute the chosen strategy; convert the strategic plan into action.
Converting concrete doable, timeline-dependent steps into action is the heart of your strategy. Know who is responsible for each step, who brings support, and who is the accountable team lead.
5. Monitor developments, evaluate performance and initiate corrective action.
Follow up and measure. Monitor the implementation of your strategy. Depending on what your strategy involves, this might mean continually gathering and monitoring partner feedback, customer feedback, new customer conversions and trends, market trends and data, financial and cash flow statements, and so on.
Nothing should be carved in stone. If we’ve gleaned anything from the past two years, it’s that a healthy dose of flexibility and adaptability is part of doing business in the 2020s and beyond. We know how rapidly things can change. To some degree, setting targets and goals is an exercise in experimentation. Internal and external conditions may change. Performance may not meet expectations. The ability to adjust or take corrective action needs to be part of your overall strategy.
Keep the strategy alive. Regular meetings, discussions, and feedback from your team will keep your strategy responsive and vital. Draw upon what you’ve learned, refine, and course correct to move your business ever closer to the vision of success you first set for yourself.
Need help defining your vision and strategy for your fashion brand? Contact us at Moda Métiers and we’d be happy to assist.