The fashion industry is, and always has been, in a perpetual search for the new. New silhouettes, new techniques, new colors, new patterns. Indeed, there would be no point in designing new clothes if they were recreations of the same old stuff. The reality is that newness is what fashion is ultimately built on. And while this has some not-so-pretty consequences—for the environment, for example—it also translates into endless business opportunities. Hence why everyone is keen on getting into fashion entrepreneurship.
But where exactly should the entrepreneur start? Well, we might have already given you the answer. There is no denying that entrepreneurship and innovation are inseparable. And in an industry that is constantly reinventing itself, innovation is, in fact, the key. Building businesses around innovation is what the fashion world is all about.
Yet innovation seems to emerge everywhere and anywhere. How to decide, then, which direction to take? We are here to help you.
Everyone needs clothes. The fashion industry is, therefore, universal. Yet it does not cater to everyone. Far from it. The industry might not be strictly elitist, yet it is definitely not as inclusive as it should be.
The truth is that, until very recently, this sector was outright ignoring the plus-size market, for example. It arguably still is. The fact that a mainstream brand making plus-sizes available in-store is making headlines is testament to that. Admittedly, the fashion industry continues to ignore certain sectors of the population. That’s precisely where entrepreneurs should intervene
Building a business specifically tailored to a previously ignored pool of people has proven successful. Sweaty Betty’s founder, Tamara Hill-Norton, famously constructed her brand out of an observation. She noticed that there were no companies producing fashionable activewear for women at the time. So she took a step in the right direction and pioneered the very profitable world of women’s activewear.
This suggests that fashion entrepreneurship shouldn’t be centered around technical innovation only, but also demographic innovation. Finding the demographic gaps within the current customer base of mainstream companies might be the way to go. Some of them are obvious, like the plus-size client. Some of them, not so much.
The approach that brands such as Studio 15 take, however, exemplifies other options. The company focuses on South-Asian-inspired fashion, specifically tailoring to people of South-Asian descent. Studio 15’s aim is to reconnect immigrants and their descendants with their roots. It produces a very specific type of garment for a very specific customer, previously relegated to the background. This illustrates how thinking about innovation and fashion entrepreneurship in terms of demographics could look like.
Technical and Field Innovation
There are currently quite a few areas in which technical and field innovation is especially sought after. Creating business models around them might be the most obvious way into fashion entrepreneurship. Here is a short guide into what kinds of fashion innovations are the most relevant—and thus profitable—today.
As the world increasingly transitions into the digital age, fashion needs to keep up. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the industry’s move into technology, resulting in the emergence of plenty of quite a few innovations. Many are still in their beginning stages, so now is the perfect time for entrepreneurs to invest in their development.
First and foremost, digital fashion has taken a firm hold on the fashion industry. High fashion brands such as Balenciaga and Tommy Hilfiger have been dipping their toes in the waters of digital garments. And such a phenomenon seems to only increase in popularity.
It indeed seems like digital fashion is only waiting for more entrepreneurs to join in. It doesn’t only come down to digital garments, but also digital showrooms and the digital production of samples. We hence recommend anyone trying to get into fashion entrepreneurship to consider building a brand precisely around such technologies.
The terrifying consequences of climate change have led innovators to come up with a wide variety of innovative solutions. Many of them have been specifically tailored to the fashion industry, as it contributes so much to this horrifying phenomenon. And implementation of such innovations has not lagged behind. With the consumer’s increasing concern for the environment has come to an increase in the use of new, sustainable tools. Brands that focus exclusively on producing sustainable clothes are becoming commonplace.
Henceforth, individuals seeking to get their start in fashion entrepreneurship should take advantage of this growing sector of opportunity. The options are practically endless.
On the one hand, there are plenty of sustainable solutions when it comes to materials. Biodegradable fabrics are in vogue, and there has recently been a big emergence of brands that exclusively carry them. Vegan alternatives to leather, such as “mushroom leather,” are also gaining a lot of traction.
On the other hand, there has been great innovation in the production of garments themselves. There are softwares that help brands implement the circular model of production, reducing its environmental and social impact. Clothing reward programs, allowing brands to recycle previously produced clothing, are also becoming mainstream.
It’s clear that there is a vast array of options. The point is, however, that these unexploited innovations represent an area of opportunity for fashion entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs should consider taking them up and using them as foundations for their businesses. It would be beneficial not only to them but also to the environment.
Fashion being intrinsically linked to newness and innovation, it only makes sense for fashion entrepreneurship to be tied to it too. Entrepreneurs should consider demographic, sustainable, and technological innovations as building blocks for their future companies.
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