Premium fashion is on the rise and fast fashion is in decline. Consumers are becoming more aware of the damaging effects fast, disposable, fashion has on the planet and are opting to spend their money on longer-lasting, premium brands instead.
Also, fashion purchasers want products that reflect their personalities and say something about who they are.
If brands get it right, they can capitalise on the growth in premium fashion, creating a strong brand that stands the test of time. Having rapidly established our brand presence we have some experience.
We have found is that the strongest brands have a good story.
In that experience, one thing we have found is that the strongest brands have a good story. Perhaps a link to something or someone iconic. For example, we benefit from our connection with Sir Edmund Hillary through his family. And big fashion brands spend millions to form these iconic links with sports personalities.
Above: Sir Edmund Hillary, the mountaineer whose legacy is the story behind Edmund Hillary Brands' clothing label
Of course, not every brand has links to something iconic, but every brand has a story. Why did you create your brand? What did you set out to achieve? What values do you hold or mission did you set out to fulfil? Tell your story. This will help develop the personality of your brand and provide the conversation starter that modern shoppers are looking for.
The strongest brands also find a gap in the market, a need that’s unfulfilled. Research your market to uncover trends and discover areas which are undersaturated ‒ that’s where you’ll find the sweet spot between underserved and appealing. This sweet spot maybe hidden or obscured so it can be useful to think on multiple levels at once ‒ an overlap of activities and experiences the market enjoy, for example, or of an iconic figure and a hobby.
By taking the lead on your chosen values, customers will forgive areas where you’re less than perfect, appreciating the areas where you place your focus.
In the current climate, it’s also important to connect with your market’s values. After all, people want clothing that reflects their own personality. Start by defining your own values and creating a vision and mission for your brand. The aim is to take people with you on that journey, so you need to base all your branding and marketing decisions around those values. By taking the lead on your chosen values, customers will forgive areas where you’re less than perfect, appreciating the areas where you place your focus.
Above: Clare Hall-Taylor, Marketing Director at Edmund Hillary Brands
The big trend across all of retail, and particularly fashion, is toward longer-lasting products. People are looking for quality in their purchases. They understand the false economy of buying cheap products that fall apart after a year.
Consumers also want to invest in meaningful purchases that reflect their personality and say something about who they are ‒ a conversation starter. This personal connection also builds customer affinity with the brand, transforming them from a customer into an advocate.
Does your company do good for the people involved?
And sustainability is important when considering the materials you use to make your clothing. Good quality materials make clothing last longer. Sustainable materials help establish your brand as one that cares about your customers....and the planet.
At the very top end of the market, you have higher quality, heritage materials. Using these materials in your clothing will establish your brand as a premium one that shows incredible attention to detail ‒ key points of differentiation when developing a strong brand.
Not only is sustainability important, but the human factor is also vital. Does your company do good for the people involved?
Awareness of exploitative sweatshops has been growing for years and tragedies like the Bangladesh factory collapse highlight real ethical issues at the bottom of the supply chain.
There’s also been a rise in social enterprises over the past decade. These businesses either have a social mission of their own or support a particular charity. In doing so, they highlight their values and demonstrate how they are taking real, practical, measurable steps to help that charity or cause.
If you use these tips to form the basis of your exploration, define your values to help make key decisions, and focus on being a premium fashion brand with a conscience, you’ll be on the right path to success.