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Posts tagged as DTC

Despite slow consumer adoption, fashion brands are using customization

More fashion brands are following the beauty market’s lead by introducing product customization options that make each purchase feel tailor-made.
With major brands like Nike, Coach and Burberry already on board with the trend, smaller fashion retailers and DTC brands are following suit.Activewear company Alala, for example, now has an expanded customization program allowing buyers to customize leggings (starting at $185) with choice colorways, monograms and embroidery. Alala’s personalized orders are on the rise, said founder Denise Alala.
Over the past 12 months, the brand has seen a 100 percent increase in online orders with some facet of personalization. Alala owed the boost to an increased marketing push across channels and the brand’s expanded customization options.These personalization efforts capitalize on the growing demand for made-for-me products. Research from theDeloitte Consumer Review showed more than 50 percent of consumers are interested in purchasing highly customized products.
“This is a trend that will continue to grow, especially when customization is framed within fashions attempts for greater sustainability,” said brand strategist Ana Andjelic. “The technology is already here to make decentralized manufacturing a reality, and it’s not just going to change the way apparel is made; it’s going to change patterns of consumption and behavior.”Andjelic said she’s seen these shifts reflected in recent brand moves, as well. For example, Ministry of Supply’s launch of 3D knitting in its Boston flagship may signal the future of transparent fashion production, distribution and consumption.If even a small portion of a retailer’s goods are made on-demand, it could slash significant costs, as there would be no risk of getting stuck with unwanted inventory. On-demand manufacturing would also allow brands to react on-the-fly to trends, an increasingly powerful weapon at a time when social media is acting as rocket fuel for fashion fads.
Finally, it could help retailers meet the expectations of customers increasingly seeking one-of-a-kind goods.
While more brands are buying into the need for customized offerings, consumers aren’t consistently taking the bait.
A few recent flops at the intersection of fashion and personalization may cause brands to pause and reconsider before diving into similar efforts around personalization.Take Zozo, for example.In January, Zozo, Japan’s largest fashion retailer, announced it was cutting its projected operating profit from $360 million down to $240 million. The reason: The Zozosuit, the brand’s black bodysuit that works with an app to take custom measurements, failed to bring in the surge of custom orders and glowing praise the brand expected.Custom-made shoe retailer Shoes of Prey also fumbled in the realm of personalization. The brand’s founder Jodie Fox announced on Instagram in August that the brand would no longer be taking custom, on-demand orders due to the fact that it was never able to crack mass-market adoption.
The growing trend of fashion personalization and customization doesn’t come without its own unique set of challenges. Fashion brands offering custom orders have to find a way to integrate one-off orders into their supply chain management and logistics workflows, all while considering its impact on production time and delivery as it relates to the overall customer experience.For DTC fashion brands like Cuyana, these are hurdles worth overcoming. “We saw a big opportunity around customization, particularly given how much our products are gifted,” said Cuyana CEO Karla Gallardo.
“We decided to manage monogramming in-house and have developed a fulfillment operation allowing us to ship monogrammed orders same-day.”As more fashion retailers look to personalization as a competitive differentiator, it will be important to consider its ripple effects as well as its potential perks.“Offering elements of personalization has made a positive impact on our overall customer satisfaction ratings,” said Gallardo, “But what we really like is how they allow our customers to establish a stronger emotional connection with the brand.”

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‘True technical design’: Inside SoulCycle’s fashion ambitions

SoulCycle poached talent from Victoria’s Secret and Barneys, among other fashion brands and retailers, to build the merchandising team.
Called Soul, SoulCycle’s new collection launched on Tuesday is its first designed by its newly created in-house team of designers.SoulCycle poached talent from Victoria’s Secret and Barneys, among other fashion brands and retailers, to build the merchandising team. Previous collections sold by SoulCycle, which has been selling apparel for over a decade, have been designed by collaborators like Public School or sourced from other brands and sold as private label.
in the $50 to $130 price range.The collections release also marks the first partnership between SoulCycle and Nordstrom, the latest retail collaborator SoulCycle has worked with after previous partnerships with Lululemon (a product collaboration) and Target (a multi-city marketing activation).Starting Tuesday, the collection is being sold at 18 Nordstrom stores nationwide, on nordstrom.com and through SoulCycles studios and website.
Select styles are exclusive to Nordstrom. SoulCycle has not sold its own label through wholesale partners before.
SoulCycle began marketing the collection at the beginning of February, relying on a combination of social media advertising and more organic advertising of having SoulCycle instructors wear the collection while teaching classes. Just having the instructors wear the pieces from the collection during a class speaks more strongly than words, in terms of marketing, said Caroline Gogolak, vp of retail at SoulCycle, noting instructors were not required to wear the products but were given pieces from the collection.We’ve had a lot of riders come up and ask where their instructors leggings came from, for example.The worlds of athletic clothing and high fashion have been on a collision course recently.
From suits made with performance materials to athletic brands runway presenceWe tried to find a white space in that market where we could fit in, said Gogolak. There are few players providing true technical design.
If you’re in an indoor cycling class or any other athletic activity, you’re really being active. We wanted the product to actually perform, as well as be fashion-forward.Nordstrom’s decision to host SoulCycle’s new collection is consistent with its recent buying process. Over the past few years, Nordstrom has made a reputation of being a starter home for small DTC brands like Thinx, Sandy Liang and Dagne Dover looking to test wholesale.
But the relationship between Nordstrom and the brands it carries has not always been seamless. DTC brand The Arrivals, which partnered with Nordstrom last year, had to scale back on its Nordstrom’s partnership when the retailer put pressure on the brand to expand to a larger number of stores than it could handle.Gogolak said she has not had that experience with Nordstrom.One of the fears of wholesale is that you dont have control, but Nordstrom has acted like a partner, she said.
Nordstrom was not able to comment in time for the publication of this article.For Gologak, SoulCycle’s deeper expansion into fashion has been a unique exercise in brand building.Its unique for us since weve built our brand for a long time. So were starting with feedback on what customers want first and then building the collection after.
Most brands put something out there, test, get feedback and then iterate, but we were able to hear from people for over 13 years and build our collection off of that. It’s like building a brand in reverse.

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A new membership program looks to alleviate pain points of emerging fashion designers

The internet has done many wonderful things for fashion, particularly smaller brands and independent designers. Small fashion brands that would …
Small fashion brands that would never have been able to get off the ground 10 years ago can now find modest but sustainable success through small online stores and a dedicated social media following.
But even with the lowered barrier to entry of the fashion market, challenges abound around things like paying for shipping and establishing an efficient back-end. Alleviating these problems for independent designers is the impetus behind a new program from Not Just A Label, an 11-year-old platform founder Stefan Siegel characterized as a bit like LinkedIn for fashion designers.
On Not Just A Label, customers can buy clothes directly from designers. Siegel said the company launched the careers of designers including Mary Katrantzou, Damir Doma and Rad Hourani.The majority of its designers are based in the U.S.and U.K. and customers come from all around the globe.NJAL+, the new initiative from the company, is a membership program meant to alleviate the challenges of being an independent fashion designer without the backing of a big brand or money from venture capital.E-commerce is tough, especially with new designers, said Siegel. The majority of the designers on our platform have their own online shop or they sell on Instagram.Last summer, we did a survey of our designers, and they told us what their challenges were: It was shipping was expensive, no access to trade shows. So I thought, Why dont we use the combined negotiating power and go to UPS and Apple, and show them that, altogether, our designers ship thousands of products?’Designers using the platform can pay a $49 monthly membership fee to join NJAL+ and, in exchange, NJAL negotiates on behalf of those designers collectively with UPS and other service providers to get them better deals on shipping, website hosting and more.
Not Just A Label has around 35,000 designers currently using its platform, around 70 percent of which are engaged in other e-commerce sites. The membership also grants access to amenities like discounted subscriptions to Womens Wear Daily, discounted classes at Parsons School of Design and discounted hotel rooms at Standard Hotels.Siegel compares the service to functioning somewhat like a union because those designers individually do not have a lot of negotiating power with UPS but together make up thousands of products being shipped every year. Shipping through UPS can cost more than $10 per one-pound shipment across the country. Not Just A Label has been promoting NJAL+ on its own social media channels and is also including educational tools for member designers to learn how to better market their own stores.“Independent designers are very creative, but they often don’t have the time, business savvy or technical skills to market and sell their products online,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at BRP Consulting.
“Designers want to spend their time on what they do best: designing clothes. Designing and promoting a website that will get noticed by luxury shoppers is a daunting task.”The power this program puts in the hands of smaller brands and independent designers is consistent with a larger resistance that some small fashion brands have had to work with bigger partners. While retailers like Nordstrom have been working on snapping up small DTC brands, some of those brands have pulled back on retail partnerships in favor of direct sales.Siegel sees NJAL as part of a larger movement in fashion away from the dominance of a few giant companies to a large number of smaller ones.Ten years ago, most designers were using MySpace, Siegel said.They could not show at NYFW, they couldnt get noticed at all if they didnt know someone. But a lot of designers dont need to sell a million dollars worth of product.
They dream of selling one thing to one person and making a sustainable profit. I think the market has changed drastically and it’s much more democratic.
Its more open to this kind of model.As the barriers for entry into the fashion marketplace get lowered, independent designers and small brands have more opportunities to flourish.At the same time, those smaller entities still need resources and access in order to compete with larger brands that have bigger budgets.“E-commerce and online marketplaces have created a viable way for independent designers to create a business with very little investment, Naumann said.
Before e-commerce, independent designers needed to open a store or get another store to carry their designs. Both options had limited sales opportunities, and opening a store is very expensive.Entrepreneurs will continue to flourish, and online marketplaces and e-commerce platforms are making it easier for new independent designers to live their dream.”

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