The fashion industry is built on an intricate web of relationships between brands, retailers, suppliers, producers, and consumers. There are many ways to connect consumers with product, and each method has its advantages and disadvantages. The practices of buying and selling merchandise have evolved over time – how did we arrive at the current landscape of the fashion industry? Why do some brands sell direct (via their own stores or ecommerce sites) and others rely on wholesale partnerships (with large retailers like Nordstrom or Macy’s)? What makes fast fashion so different, and why has this model created such turmoil for traditional brands and retailers?
“Wholesale is a dream for design-driven brands, since it allows them to focus on the design and product, while offloading the selling to an often influential third party. Brands that really want to own the relationship with the customer…often won’t be as design-driven since they have many other skills to master, from customer acquisition to ecommerce to customer service.” –Loose Threads
This past week saw the addition of another fashion brand to the ranks of those who go above and beyond to offer pricing and sourcing transparency to their customers. Retailers like Zady and Everlane have been pioneers in this shift toward honest and open engagement with consumers about the products they make. Whether this involves naming the places where a brand sources its fibers, fabrics, and findings, or laying bare a brand’s pricing strategy and inviting consumers to gain a better understanding of what it costs to make their clothing, these subtle changes have huge implications for an industry that has traditionally operated behind closed doors.
When a brand voluntarily provides what has always been considered a trade secret, they aren’t just supplying long sought-after answers: they’re giving consumers the information they need in order to start asking better questions. Part of the reason the dirty secrets of the fashion industry remain so well hidden is because we as consumers don’t realize we aren’t getting the whole picture. If I am unaware of the fact that my clothing had an entire life before I purchased it, why would I ever think to look into the details of that story? Continue reading