A question I am being repeatedly asked through the pandemic and my answer has consistently been YES. Underlying that ‘yes’ are certain strategies that go with it.
Time constrained, I write in a pretty direct manner, here you go, all the beans.
- It has to be an Online Brand — a) People are spending a lot more time online and on social media, so you have the possibility of tapping into that audience waiting to be entertained. b) A lot more people are going to shop online, increasing the over all market size. c) Exhibitions should not be a strategy, which means you need to focus on developing an intriguing brand and amazing photography (I always tell the team- “We’re selling photos and delivering apparel”) d) B2B will not be easy because big organisations and buyers are uncertain and don’t have the appetite for risk.
- It has to cater to the needs of the pandemic survivors — Read into the insights, the customer’s behaviour and consumption pattern is changing. a) We have all realised how uncomfortable most of the apparel we own is, most of it is not fit to lounge in. For example, I am pretty sure I don’t need sleeves, I need pure cotton, I need mulmul fabric to wear at home. b) The older customers who were only used to touch and feel purchases. They are going to shop online now. It’s important to address the apprehensions they may have, some do not even know how to shop on a website. It’s also important to carry products they want.
- It has to stand out in a Market Place — Instagram is too crowded, facebook dead, ads too expensive, you need to launch and sell through good Market Places who have already acquired the customers. This wont be easy but if your product is amazing and you can gain access to the team, with a little focus you can do wonders. I have often realised that just dropping an email to them never helps. Find a connection who knows someone on the marketplace team,… or you can wait for 4 years for them to recognise and call you.
- It has to be sustainable — If its not a sustainable brand don’t even bother. We have caused enough harm, fairness is being demanded by the industry and customers. Most importantly sustainability has to be accessible at every price point. Which it currently is not.
- It cannot be a very expensive brand — Great product at a good price. People have suffered losses in their mutual funds, the fashion industry is very highly linked to the stock market. People have lost jobs. Money spent on fashion will be spent carefully.
- A lot of fashion businesses who already had a very heavy debt at the start of Covid are sadly going to die because of the heavy overheads they have to deal with, which you wont have for a while. A lot of traditional non innovative stuck up offline businesses may also die, but since you will be new you will adjust to the environment more easily.
- Rural manufacturing for the urban market — India has a great pool of artisans. Crafts-men and women who are spread in the most remote parts of the country where Covid has not had an impact, here your costs of production can also be much lower than in metros. This manpower is now digitally connected for you to remotely work with them.
Conclusion: If you are launching an Affordable Sustainable Online Fashion Brand selling (insert amazing product from a deep insight) made in rural India and sold through market places. You will be a success. Launch !
// In the next few posts I will cover — How to start and grow a sustainable fashion brand, processes and tools to visualise your company, how to look for product insights, how to develop your supply chain, how to do fair ethical pricing, creating value for everyone in the supply chain. How to develop your branding. How to develop your collections. How to develop a market for your product. How to develop sales channels. If you have any more questions please post them as comments and I can take them up //