Managing to open a new business, or release a

Managing Technology & Innovation in
the Fashion Industry

It’s our
first month of 2017, and we’re still in the 21st century. We’re in a
century were technology and innovation have become one of
the brains priorities. It’s like when you want to open a new business, or
release a new product the first thing that comes to your mind is building an
electronic product that contains high technology. After all, this revolution of
technology and innovation needs management.

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Managing fashion technology and
innovations:

As we just stated that technology is in every part of our
environment these days, and also technology is interfering in the fashion
industry too. Of course this technology needs management. Why does it need
management? Management must be present in this domain to provide companies or
the founder of the product in this industry with
the profiles they need to be highly competitive in a complex environment.

In this case, where a complex environment
is present, and in this competitive industry, orientation must always be
present, providing very good opportunities for growth in a hypercompetitive
environment. Hence, managers must be recruiting experts in this domain and they
should aware of the structure and the dynamic of this field, able to manage
companies and develop brands in a successful way.

Fundamental knowledge
for fashion management

1-   Creating Brand Awareness:

In a fashion brand, the person designing
and developing the product is often also responsible for the advertising
campaigns and the brand communication.

1- Brand Story: A brand story is what people will talk about when they think
of your brand. It summarizes why your brand exists and what are the unique
characteristics of your product that makes it distinct from everything else in
the market.

2-   Marketing Mix, The Four Ps: The marketing mix is a set of tools that allow you to craft
a clear marketing direction and tell your story.

Product is the tangible physical product or service you
provide.

Price effectively positions you in the market.

Place is where you distribute and sell your products to
customers.
Promotion includes everything from traditional marketing
with advertising and PR, to new media marketing on social media.

3- Social Media: Social media is a powerful and affordable way to build
awareness about your brand. Only engage in those platforms that address your
target customer. Be aware that it takes time and resources to manage and
provide content on social accounts, so it is probably the right choice to begin
with only one or two social media channels.

4- Public Relations: When you have things to share, new products coming out or
announcements to make, working well with different types of publications is
going to be a key part of building your brand.

5- Advertising: Advertising can help you reach a large audience, control and
increase brand awareness and secure press coverage. However paid media comes at
a high cost and it will probably be a long time before you can afford it.

2- Finance Your
Fashion Business?

A- Equity: Equity investors provide cash to invest in your business.
The best equity investors can offer you smart money, which is money that comes
with expertise; contacts and other types of advice that can help you build your
business.

B- Debt: Debt financing usually comes in the form of a loan. Taking
on debt will mean that you will have additional cash outflow that your business
will have to support each month and that can be an additional burden for a
business to bear in the early stages.

C- Other Income: This can come from a variety of sources, including awards
and competitions and providing advice or services to other companies.

3- Write a Fashion
Business Plan

A- Executive Summary: The executive summary is at the beginning of business plan,
but should be the last thing to write. It encapsulates all the key points,
ideas and objectives of business in a very short and concise “elevator pitch.”

B- Vision &
Objectives: This section will
help investors, and anyone else reading your business plan understands what
particular market need you are going after and what you will offer that is
unique and differentiated.

C- Market &
Competitive Landscape: This section
describes the market that you plan to operate in. How big is the market? How
fast is it growing and what evidence do you have that this part of the market
is a viable opportunity?

D- Implementation
Plan: This is probably the most detailed section
of business plan, identifying the specific actions that business will take to
go after the market opportunity you have identified. Ideally, it should cover
three years of activity, on a seasonal basis, and should include everything
from how you communicate as a business and the staff you will hire, to the
space you will need and the outside expertise you will require, in terms of
marketing, communications or PR.

E- Financials: Financial plan shows how your business will grow in terms of
both profit and revenue and what financing will be needed to make it happen.

4- E-Commerce

A- Starting a fashion
business is an intense, all-encompassing experience:

Running a small fashion business is a 24
hours a day, 7 days a week commitment requiring militant self-discipline. You
will need to think of yourself as a CEO first and will likely spend less than
10 percent of your time designing.

B- There are four key
steps in the fashion value chain:

Production & Supply Chain:
Design & Development.

Marketing & PR: You
will not be able to sell your collection unless people know about it.
Sales & Distribution: The last step is to distribute and sell your products.

 

C- Focusing on four
critical success factors will help to increase your chances of success:

Bring something unique to the market: Carefully craft your business concept. It is essential
that you have an idea of the person you are designing for.

Find a business partner or advisor: To help realize the business that you want to build,
find someone who can work side by side with you to help manage your
business.

Use your network of contacts: Building a fashion business requires access to all
kinds of people and resources
Manage your cash tightly: Too many designers have been in the situation where
they have orders to fill, but insufficient cash to buy the raw materials
to produce and deliver those orders.

Fashion product
management:

1. Stakeholder
Management

Know your stakeholders. Without knowing
your market and customers, the chances are high that you will fail. A company
in the fashion industry has to deal with trade organizations, suppliers,
sponsors, buyers and distributors, partners etc. Transparency, communication
and collaboration with these stakeholders are important for a company to grow
and succeed.

 

2. Planning

There are many types of projects in
fashion, ranging from opening a store (physical and/or online), launching a
product, organizing a fashion show, to entering a new market or market segment.
You need a plan for each of these projects and have a clear vision of what you
want to achieve with the respective project.

Project plan needs to factor in all the
necessary steps to successfully reach your goals. To launch a product, you will
have to design the product first, and then plan demand and start producing.
After that you have to decide on the pricing and sales budget. Your plan should
also include market research and marketing measures. These are only a few steps
in the process of launching a new product.

 

3. Changes and Risks

Fashion companies need to identify possible
risks (production failures, supply chain errors, etc.) also need to be aware
that customers are much more conscious of the social impact of fashion’s
pursuit of producing clothes as fast as possible.

4. Agility

Agile allows for more flexibility and helps
improving processes, such as sales, customer management or supply chain
management, leading to higher and faster turnover of products – which can in
turn give you a coveted leading position.

5. Teamwork

It’s important that fashion companies
foster a collaborative and creative culture. Avoid misunderstandings between
team members by communicating information early and often.

Fashion management in
R&D Sections (Strategy and business models):

Business models are necessary features of
market economies where there is consumer choice, transaction costs, and
heterogeneity amongst consumers and producers, and competition. Profit seeking
firms in competitive environments will endeavor to meet variegated consumer
wants through the constant invention and presentation to the consumer of new
value propositions. But when we think of design, we often focus on the creative
side alone. This is no doubt important.

 

Make design process more effective and
profitable by following these six steps:

1. Pore over sales
results each season

Important metrics to focus on are: unit
sales, total volume, sell through percent, net gross margin, net average retail
price and returns. A quick note on the all-important sell-through, however.
Sell-through is only a function of the success a product achieves related to
how you or your buyers purchased it. So, while this is an important measure, it
can exclude some important contextual information that should always be
considered, as well.

2. Talk to floor
associates and check out the competition

Initiate these relationships as often as
possible and encourage the associates to speak candidly about what is and isn’t
working, and what’s missing. As an added bonus, you may be pleasantly surprised
by the attention your product gets on the floor once an associate is better
acquainted with you.

3. Gather first-hand
customer feedback

There is nothing quite as valuable as a
direct interaction with customer. Reports may tell what consumers bought, but
spending quality time with them or at least watching them shop will help to
understand how and why they make purchase decisions. Spend as much time as
possible on the floor interacting with your customers. And if possible, when
visiting your accounts, observe (or work!) the sales floor. Trunk shows are another
great way to meet customers directly.

4. Develop a
collection plan

There are three fundamental elements to
planning a balanced collection and it’s essential to keep these in mind.

The Base: Every successful fashion company rests upon the success of
one or two items which form the foundation of the overall product assortment
and a more predictable stream of revenue around which a real business can be
built. These products don’t change dramatically from season to season and they
become the staples of your product offering.

The Middle: In the middle are the products that you adapt and refresh
each season with new colors, fabrics or prints, but the basic silhouettes
remain the same

The Top: At the top of your collection are the purely seasonal
elements which are more about driving interest and bringing new energy to your
product mix.

5. Consider costs
carefully

Make sure that you are designing and
developing a product that can reasonably be produced. While that may sound like
an obvious point, many talented designers create beautiful concepts that prove
to be too expensive or complicated to produce at scale.

Products should have clear cost targets,
derived from working backward from final retail pricing. Make sure to build in
a realistic margin for yourself that considers not only the pure costs of
production, but also other monies that you will have to spend in order to get
the product into a selling environment.

6. Use a stylist –
smartly!

The most important outcome here is
receiving a second opinion on how the collection sits together best and how to
present it to buyers or customers.

Product promotions and marketing –
runways:

Generally speaking, every product or event or any other
services need a very well marketing plan so we can penetrate the market with
high confidence and set our main goals, and to enhance our mission statement.

Who said fashion weeks is only about clothing and dresses
and what so ever. Runways have become a new way or idea to promote products
that concerns fashion innovation and technology, its innovation digital
marketing in other words.

Now let’s take a look ata few of the most interesting
marketing trends seen at previous Fashion Week events:

1.  
Selfie Style:

Fashion labels are using technology to breathe new life into the selfie;
London Fashion Week saw a fashion-first when Cara Delavigne glided down the
GILES runway with her smartphone last February, posting a
selfie video on Instagram.
Content doesn’t get much more exclusive than that.

Matthew
Williamson is
introducing the Twitter Mirror backstage at its London Fashion Week show this
season. Already becoming a regular feature of events such as The Grammys, The Oscars and even NBA games,
this is a tablet usually positioned off-stage that enables celebs to snap
selfies and auto post them to the event in question’s Twitter feed. Now that’s
some creative intelligence that can be used by celebrities on runways or other
events. The whole point of this is to give access to the fans behind the
scenes, which is every fan’s dream I suppose.

2.  
Social
Shopping:

Creating online buzz around your product launch or event has
become so valuable that some brands are now accepting social currency as a form
of payment – tweets and posts in exchange for goods. User-generated content can
help bring out the human side of a company and reinforce your brand message.

In
this particular idea, shoppers can only buy their products just by posting on
social media with a hashtag that concerns the brand, also with the best photos
and videos being rewarded with more valuable prizes, like jewelry.

3.  
Real-time
marketing:

Real-time content means relevant content, and this makes it
more engaging. No one knows this better than fashion brands who live-stream
their shows and post backstage content in real-time on their social channels.
In the live streaming techniques, the brand is being promoted, but of course
live streaming must be streamed by a famous super model that got like huge
number of followers. In addition to that a hashtag must be put, and prizes are
given away to winners, such a great idea.

The intersections between fashion
management and planned marketing:

Management and planned marketing must
be implemented in every organization or any plan. Where do fashion management
and planned marketing intersect? With respect to management, usually focuses on fashion buying, fashion futures, sustainability, product
development, range planning and digital communication. Fashion management is about the actually operation of a fashion business and
requires both an analytical mind and an eye for discovering creative and
marketable designs, with management we can understand how fashion industries
work, and to how to coordinate runways and what to look for when analyzing a
fashion trend.

In
the other hand, when it comes to marketing, no doubt it’s an important element
when it comes to clothing. While implementing a marketing plan in the fashion
industry implementing of product development, building label name recognition
and loyalty, and successful advertising techniques must be present.
Implementing those elements will lead us to a successful penetration of the
market and to develop a plan of action with very high benefits.

Technological
trends in fashion management:

Work
at the intersection of fashion, science and technology is leading to some very
interesting possibilities. While it’s impossible to say exactly where
technology will take fashion in the coming months and years, we do know it pays
for apparel manufacturers and retailers to remain in touch with what’s cutting
edge. If you are looking for ways your business might be impacted by
technology, consider these six prominent tech trends in the fashion industry:

1.
Visual Search going mainstream (Find me something similar)

Computer
vision as a technology is not new in fashion industry, but it is finally going
mainstream with heavy weights like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target and others, using
visual search in their apps and websites. Visual search uses color, shape, size
and proportions to find similar items. This offers an advantage over
keyword-matched search, in which results are only as good as the searcher’s
ability to describe an item. Retailers are experiencing increased click through
and ROI’s are driving rapid adoption of this technology.

2.
 ‘Fit’ becoming critical

Features
such as virtual fitting rooms where you can “try on” fashions without
ever undressing, visual signage social media tickers that tally
“likes” of individual articles of clothing, and scannable QR codes
that trigger detailed product information and carefully crafted marketing
displays on handheld devices are just a few ways retailers are using tech to
engage shoppers in brick and mortar locations.

3.
 Advanced machine learning becoming an integral part of fashion technology

4.
Designing for online

5.
Wearable technology

Google
Glass and the like have finally hit the market to marginal impact, but wearable
tech (still in its infancy) is breaking through in tangible ways that are just
beginning to resonate with popular culture.

6.
 Big Data or is it my Data.

Technology
is changing how the fashion industry makes decisions. With real time analytics
they give actionable data that many companies currently use to make
purchasing and merchandizing decisions.

Benefits of fashion management:

In
every management strategy, plan, and process benefits is present, and it is
some kind of a priority, after all the whole process was built and implemented
to reach benefits. It is a very big and competitive industry, so in this case
management must do an expert job of analyzing and leading and also controlling
to set our mission statement and goal, and to reach the benefits that we are
seeking for. Without good management planning, benefits will be inevitable and
our goal will not be reached. Through management fear of not having benefits or
not reaching our goal is inevitable. That’s why management is an important
element in this industry.

Sustainable integration between fashion
industry and social technology (social media – TV):

The fashion industry is truly a global industry with a long
and complex supply chain – from fibers and yarn production via fabric formation
and finishing to garmenting, designing and retailing. Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, the fashion industry
around the globe has been faced with structural and disruptive changes. These
changes led to globalization, technology (e-commerce and digitalization) and
sustainability (social and social and environmental concerns); they are
connected in many ways.

Mainly
in the fashion industry, the key to reach the top is social media. Reaching a
high number of followers on social media that concerns any fashion trend or
brand, is something really big. Through promotion on social media the latest
fashion trends can be reached in just a second, how? Approximately 80% of
people are online the entire time on the internet, just waiting and searching
for the latest fashion trends, and just wanting to have that trend first, which
is pretty intense. Through numerous amounts of followers and especially live
streams the product or the trend that is just officially launched can reach
millions in just couple of minutes. But these things actually take long to
develop and build.

When
it comes to television, this is a pretty good promotion too. With TV promotion
you will be impacting the missing percentage of the people who don’t spent most
of their time on social media, in this way promotion will be 100%, which is an
efficient way to be promoting and trend or brand.

Management Developing Methods that
harnessed the fashion field progress:

The fashion and luxury sector is facing rapid business change
and people are at the heart of this revolution. It is widely accepted that
companies with well-organized management structures and talent management
practices are gaining the competitive advantage. 

Within this sector, the challenge is finding the right people
with the right skill mix to enable successful growth through a phase of major
transition and expansion. Managers and leaders in this industry must put all of
their experience and expertise. It’s a really complex domain and the most
important key is just being creative to a high level.

The globalization of markets and digitalization of
recruitment methods are two key trends that are driving the need for
professionalization in a sector that is traditionally labelled as a ‘creative’
industry. In the fashion world, changes are always present, that’s why we must
be seeking,developing and maintaining talents.

In this category, we must be treating recruitment like
marketing, so we must spot and nourish the right talent which is really
important than before. Innovation must take place, but the question is who and
where? The answer to that is the strategic recruitment, which is the actually
the key; Sometimes your best people sit in different markets and functions; it
is not about looking in the immediate surroundings but looking across borders, perspectives
and experience. Using social media communities is a must also. Fashion and
luxury companies can leverage their customer networks of people interested in
the products, which may in turn result in high-quality recruits.

 

References:

1-
For further development of this idea, see W. Davidow, High
Technology Marketing, Free Press (1986).

2- Osterwalder, A., Y. Pigneur (2002). An
e-business model ontology for modeling e-business, 15th Bled electronic commerce
conference. Bled, Slovenia, pp. 17-19.

3- Muheki, M.K., K. Lueg, R. Lueg, C. Schmaltz (2014). How
business reporting changed during the financial crisis: a comparative case
study of two large U.S. banks, Problems and Perspectives in Management, 12,
forthcoming.

4- Schrauwen, J., Schramme A. (2013b). Annex:
eengesegmenteerde, bedrijfseconomischeimpactmeting Annex: A segmented
businessmanagement impact measurement. Unpublished study commissioned, by
Flanders Fashion Institute, University of Antwerp and the Antwerp Management
School.

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