Australian fashion retail is going through a tough time with global fast fashion retailers taking $600m out of the Australian fashion market in 2016 and competition only set to increase as more international brands set their sights on the Australian market.
So what does this mean for the future direction of the industry?
Will all fashion brands need to adjust their strategy to compete based on price points, margins, speed to market and buying power or is it possible to both survive and thrive by finding other areas of differentiation?
As Mr Ryan so rightly points out in his commentary on the current state of fashion retail in Australia, “a fast fashion approach of profit through volume is not a sustainable model for all but a few large-scale, incredibly efficient, deeply resourced businesses”. Instead, “Australian fashion needs to start developing our own voice and realising that the ultimate repeat purchase stimulation is product”.
It’s not time to hit the panic button, instead, a reset in strategy towards the “development of innovative, unique products that take all the personality and natural opportunities Australia and our lifestyle provides and then turning them into customer experiences that are seductive for the consumer” is a necessary shift that brands need to make if they want to survive and prosper.
One such movement we’ve noticed having success lately are brands championing a new ‘ish’ trend in the fashion industry: sustainability.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental and social impacts and when it comes to fashion, they have a growing interest in the story behind what they wear.
“Putting an emphasis on fashion sustainability encourages consumers to take on a more active role in helping save the world.” says Ms. Salonga in her piece on Selfridges new sustainability campaign, “making the ideals of sustainability not only applicable to a niche market, but also turning it into a reality for larger audiences.”
By attracting consumers that want to align with your value proposition and sustainable production hallmarks, brands are able to present an alternative to what shoppers can get from any other physical or virtual retailer and create a value for money proposition rather than competing on price.
The outdoor adventure brand has for a long time connected with their customers by not always doing what is best for their bottom line but considering what impact their actions have on the planet we live in.
As of April this year, their long-standing repair program which helps the environment by keeping clothes in-use for longer will be made even stronger with the addition of a refurbishment program which will see customer’s receive store credit for used clothing. These second-hand clothes will then be washed by a method that restores the fabric, any necessary repairs will be made and then they will be sold on the Patagonia website.
Fresh off their win of the world’s best sustainability campaign award, the department store recently launched its ‘Material World’ campaign, focusing attention on sustainable textile development while introducing its consumers to emerging designers leading the way in sustainable fashion.
The campaign invites its audience to question the materials they wear and the effects they have on their surrounding communities. By highlighting eight everyday materials and presenting their customers with options, shoppers can see that they do have a choice and can make a difference.
The iconic shoe and apparel company has recently partnered with Mannequino to roll-out a more efficient visual merchandising system for their stores that can cut down on the cost of logistics and waste created by traditional mannequins.
In our minds, the future success of Australian fashion retailers lies in their ability to be better and different to their competitors. In a global marketplace where mega brands can offer cheaper and faster, it’s time for smaller fashion retailers to offer alternatives that force customers to choose with their heads and hearts before their wallets.