Industrial designer and founder of Jackson Hedden, LLC.
In the world of fashion today, the recycling of styles in different colors and materials has left the world hungry for more. Many times, people have to decide whether fast fashion that is more affordable and readily available is the best way to express their individuality while keeping budgetary restrictions in mind. Others who can afford it may dabble in big-name brands like Gucci or Louis Vuitton to express their individuality; some may enjoy wearing these brands because they allow them to flex their financial status. Whether you fall into the first category or the second, the goal of expressing your individuality and personal style is still a hard one to achieve. You have all of these brands copying and pasting styles back and forth in an attempt to stay relevant while also pushing the boundaries in the world of fashion. The problem is that many brands don’t focus on the individual. The individual is more than just the person buying and wearing the clothes. The individual wants to be recognized and validated. They want to be encouraged and empowered. Most of all, they want to look and feel good about themselves.
Keeping all of this in mind, what can the fashion industry do to break this crazy cycle? As the founder of an industrial design firm, I have worked with several clothing brands to develop products and strategies, and I see several options for brands to pursue what companies we’ve worked with are beginning to incorporate into their development strategies.
One option is to focus on community engagement. By fostering a sense of community, brands can encourage customer feedback, reviews and user-generated content. Brands can also collaborate with customers to co-create products or involve them in design decisions. The possibilities are endless in this regard because brands can also collaborate with up-and-coming designers in order to help them grow and develop. In the world of fashion, there is always the need for collaboration and new ideas. This strategy allows brands to pursue both, and everyone can win because of it. Additionally, brands can reach out to different cultural leaders and figures to bring certain stylistic elements to their clothes in order to pay homage to the brand’s country of origin and celebrate the people.
Another option is to transition from fast fashion to slow fashion: The concept of “slow fashion” involves creating durable, timeless pieces that consumers can cherish for a long time. This approach contrasts with fast fashion, which encourages the rapid consumption and disposal of clothing. Some people consider fast fashion to be a waste of money, and it contributes to serious environmental issues. By focusing on slow fashion, brands can help consumers build their wardrobes with staple or timeless pieces for each season so that they can build outfits around their items more effectively and price-consciously. This could also give consumers more respect and reverence for these brands and in turn, make them more likely to buy their products.
Education and transparency are other great options for brands to incorporate in order to reach more consumers. By educating consumers about the fashion industry’s impact on the environment and society, they can increase consumer respect. Sustainability-conscious consumers will recognize that the brand’s environmental impact aligns with their beliefs on doing better for the environment. Transparency about production processes and materials used can build trust and loyalty among consumers.
The goal for the fashion industry going forward should be to take a step back and really focus on the reason why they started to create clothes in the first place. It is about the individual. It should be about the person who will pull that garment out of a drawer or a closet to show the world who they are. If more brands focused on community engagement, the amount of insight and collaborations that would occur could push a brand’s image into the stratosphere. By transitioning from fast fashion to slow fashion, brands have the opportunity to be used as staples in consumers’ wardrobes and earn more consumer respect. It could also help with the image of fast fashion brands and help consumers avoid seeing products as cheap pieces that are meant to be worn once and then thrown away. Above all else, educating your consumers on the environmental impact of your brand as well as being transparent about the brands’ production processes and materials will only garner more respect from consumers.