This week I am posting 2 fashion perspectives to share what can be applied from the fashion industry to inform your own business- one from Nicole Miller and one from Byron Lars.
Fashion weeks for Fall 2016 in New York, London, Milan and Paris have ended. The glitter, glam and excitement resonates far beyond the 7 minutes of runway inspiration and the intensive fashion machine that is at the heart of this intricate business. If there is one more lesson to take away from the fashion industry, it is to study the way designers continuously refresh so that they stand out and don't look like everyone else.
The Fall 2016 Nicole Miller show was noteworthy for the gorgeous fabrics full of embroidered detail vibrant colors and a mlange of pattern and florals that evoked the hinterlands of Mongolia. Nicole Miller is an American designer whose work has sustained decades. I recently spoke with Bud Konheim, Nicole Miller's long-time business partner and CEO who remarked, "Her designs are interesting, flattering, and viable years after the purchase. We routinely show archives of her fashion silhouettes over the years to prove the point."
This is in part due to Nicole Miller's ability to tap into three key areas:
Design- critical design skills accentuate aesthetic aspects;
Engineering- engineering skills are required for construction and quality;
Marketing- the operations and negotiation skills needed for the distribution and marketing to inform the public cannot be underestimated.
While the world is saturated with tons of product, price differentiation has not proven to be a key factor- the winning tactic for a compelling strategy is design- over and over again.
Bud added that, "The genius of Nicole and other authentic designers is their "antenna" that lets them pick up signals from the future. They translate those signals into designs that are then called "leading" "trend- setting" or "forward". They don't care about focus groups that describe what's in their closets but design new styles that their followers gravitate to because they excite the imagination."
I've written about the ways that trends are "data from the future" in an earlier blog featuring trend expert Valerie Jacobs of LPK. One example of this antenna for Nicole was her inspiration of a dinosaur bone discovery in Africa six months prior to Steven Spielberg's release of Jurassic Park in movie theater. This ability and skill to constantly observe, research and incorporate discernment into one's work is essential.
Mary Dougherty, the owner of the Nicole Miller stores in Philadelphia, has remarked on how often people underestimate the power of fashion:
"I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has underestimated the power of fashion and the amount of business aptitude one needs to be successful in the industry. It is fast-paced, every changing, competitive, with small margins... and you wear so many hats, marketer, window display, merchandiser, PR, buyer, etc... In retail in particular one of the many challenges is there is not a degree so it is looked as a place to make a few bucks on your way to a 'real job'."
So, what is your antenna telling you? And more importantly, do you follow it?