How to reinvent the business of fashion

February, 22nd 2019

As the fashion industry comes to terms with sector’s new paradigm, 2019 is set to be the year in which it embraces the new opportunities and overcomes the surmounting challenges. The industry’s future was tackled head on at the Barcelona Fashion Summit, held in early February, focusing on “Fashion Year 0: Keys to Reinvent the Fashion Business”. Here at Kendu we’re firm believers in “sharing is caring”, so we’ve pulled together the six key insights of BFS to share with the fashion sector in Spain, the UK and abroad.

  • KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS & WANT THEY WANT: Knowing your customer and understanding want they is fundamental to a brand’s success. New players such as Laagam founded by 24-year-old Inés Arroyo, understood that their success depended on knowing who their customers were and their motivation for shopping. The young Catalan brand ensured that their customers played a collaborative role in deciding which products to launch to market. The fashion sector’s challenge lies with large retailers who, with such a large customer base, need to focus on further optimising consumer analytics to really get to know who their customers and what they want.

  • RELEVANCE & INCOFORMITY: Relevance and inconformity are key to reinventing the business of fashion in 2019. Brands, both large and small, must be open to all forms of innovation, from new products to new distribution models and even the business of fashion, in order to stay relevant. Using personalisation or co-creation can help to further challenge brand conformity. Seeing Tesla, Amazon or even Alibaba as sources of inspiration of how brands can innovate rather than threats to the current model will move the sector into new and exciting territory.

  • SUSTAINABILITY: Sustainability should be the way forward for the whole sector and not just used as a way to temporarily increase sales. At BFS, Alfred Vernis, Sustainability Academic Director at Inditex, stressed the importance of taking steps towards sustainability “because the planet can’t wait any longer” while also keeping in mind that “customers buy fashion they don’t buy sustainability” when shopping. To ensure consistency, sustainability should be implemented throughout the entire value chain.

  • EXPERIENCE: Experience is an industry buzz word, but it seems that few can explain what is and what makes an “experience”. With her typical irreverence and sense of humour, Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada started a fiery debate at BFS. The result was defining an “experience” as, at minimum, a relative term as it depends heavily on what the brand’s value proportion is and the public at which the brand is directed.

  • HUMANISATION: Humanisation is one of the clear differential values of the physical store and one which is difficult to replicate between brands and customers in other channels, either relational or transactional. Humanisation was without a doubt one of the key points of optimism within the general feeling of “crisis” perpetrated. Something that everyone agreed on was the fact that the store is key to humanising a fashion brand and that it fulfils a fundamental role as a place of leisure for customers.

  • DIFFERENTIATION: The differentiation between brands, or rather lack thereof, was another hot topic of debate. Re-establishing differentiation as a brand value within the fashion industry is a must in order to regain the sense of magic and the illusion that brands convey to their customers. In fact, as we move further into 2019 and beyond, fashion brands and the business of fashion as a whole should reflect on a question that came from the BFS audience itself: “If you take your product out of the question, what is it that you’re selling?”