Designing a fashion collection is relatively easy. Anyone can do it. But creating and putting together a cohesive fashion collection that sells requires you to know the secret sauce. Say YES if you want to know the secret ingredients?
Because we live in an age where we all want the recipe and a step by step process to success, below is a list of the top 5 most important ingredients you need to have in order to create a cohesive fashion collection.
It pays to put some time upfront and think through the elements covered below. Do this and you will reap the results later.
Repeatedly. That sounds good, YES?
Ready to get stuck in and discover the secret sauce?
OK, pay attention and make a note of the key questions below so you can work on them later.
Let’s start briefly by explaining what “cohesive” means – so there is no confusion.
“Cohesive” means something is well-integrated and unified. Synonyms that also can be used to describe the same result are words like coherent, compatible, coordinated, even proportioned.
So – really and truly for a group of products to make a cohesive fashion collection it is key to have all products work well together as a union. The collection must be evenly proportioned and coherent. In other words – it must have logic and be easily understood.
That alone can bring much success to some brands. Creative success and kudos for sure.
But if your goal s for your brand to grow and generate income and eventually be self-sustaining, then you need to ensure that the success of your fashion collection is also tied to some financial metrics.
Here are the key ingredients a commercially successful and cohesive fashion collection should have.
1. Overall vision
All too often we see brands we fall in love with only a season or two later to wonder what awe liked about it. Did your style and taste change (seemingly overnight)or did the brand change beyond recognition?
Those brands that have stood the test of time and weathered many economic storms are the ones that have a vision they keep close to.
That is not to say your vision cannot evolve. A brand (and any business) is a “living thing”. It has a life just like we do – the humans running it.
It is OK to evolve your vision for your brand and business as you evolve as a human.
As you learn more about your customers, as the market and the fashion industry changes. Just like you have seasons in nature and collections often reflect these seasons, so does your brand and vision will also evolve and go through seasons.
Here is the but…. That doesn’t happen overnight.
That evolution takes time and shows progression. It is connected to the before and informs the after.
Creating a strong vision for your brand at the start is important. What is even more important is that the vision reflects you as a designer and brand creator. That you can live with it daily, that you are proud of it and feel aligned and true to it effortlessly.
If something about your vision doesn’t feel congruent and true – then it will not hold long term, will it?
When you see new fashion brands change beyond recognition almost with every collection, it is because they are still searching for that vision. They didn’t do the work at the start.
But what that does is that it means you miss out on creating loyal fans and customers. You miss out on repeat sales and word of mouth marketing.
Instead, you need to reinvent the wheel every season, look for new buyers all over again and basically start from scratch every few months.
That has an impact on your sales and brand reputation. We, humans, are predictable creatures. Most of us like to know what to expect and what we will find in a brand we like trust and buy from.
It can be different and new – yes. But not so different that we have to double-check the label name and question our memory.
A strong vision is THE super-glue that holds together a cohesive fashion collection.
2. Product/market fit
If you do your “job” well and manage to articulate both verbally and visually a strong vision for your brand that even a nine-year-old will understand, then you’ll be able to clearly define who your target market would be.
Knowing your target market and understanding how to attract the right customers and repel the wrong kind is vital.
The most valuable commodity we have is time. Spending time trying to sell to the wrong crowd is a time you’ll never get back. So why even go there?
If you know what and where you want your brand to be, you’ll instinctively know what and who will take you there.
Then it’s a case of following the trail that will get you to your end destination.
3. Commercial viability
To be commercially successful, a cohesive fashion collection must sell.
To “sell” it means your customers – individuals buying directly from the brand or wholesale buyers alike, must be able to buy one or more items. Ideally repeatedly. Ideally more than one item per collection.
Is this possible? YES!
Does it really happen for other brands with every collection? YES!
Brands that survive create cohesive fashion collections that offer a choice of products as well as prices within their range.
They create shop-ABLE collections that allow their ideal buyer, regardless of the life stage they may be to buy a product.
They create collections that manage the expectations of their customers. There is an element of steady-ness and predictability balanced out with new and exciting surprises. This keeps the buyers happy and secure in the knowledge why they like and love the brand, while also create the desire for the “new” and “what next” and “more please”.
A cohesive fashion collection is one that has mastered the art of balancing a product range that retains older customers as well as attracts new customers all the time.
4. Profitable prices
Google the reasons why most fashion brands file for bankruptcy and you’ll soon see that one of the biggest causes is financial troubles.
Why the reasons that lead to financial troubles are many (and we have covered in another article) the point is that to create a thriving business and to be able to grow it you not only need to sell your products but also sell them at a price that is profitable.
Every item you sell as a business (be it product or service) MUST be sold with a profit. Some may have more profit than others, but you must at all times be clear that no item in your range sells at a loss or merely breaks even.
Every product sold must be contributing to the health of your business. Every product must be adding monetary value and helping pay bills and salaries.
All too often designers and creative business owners make the excuse that they are not “number people” and focus on creativity. They create with ease and love beautiful products that are ultimately unsellable or unprofitable. Either way – their contribution to the business is zero.
You can have one or few products in a collection that you choose to include, knowing that they will not bring clear profit to the business. But you must be able to quantify later in monetary terms their contribution to the overall financial health of your business. Did they generate more press than past collections and as a result, you got new clients? Sold more?
Numbers don’t lie! And it is the numbers creative avoid that stifle their creativity at the end. So make friends with the numbers to keep on being creative.
5. Consistent, clear message
If you have a vision that is clear and you keep close to it, you should and would be able to consistently communicate “on brand”. Your message to the world will easily be in line with past seasons and prepare and excite your customers for the next.
How you portray your brand in terms of visual communication and “the written word” is informed by the vision you created right at the start. Anything that is not I line with that vision is then easily spotted and corrected.
There is no confusion. Not to you, not to your team and not to your customers and buyers.
Human brains process visuals faster and better than the written word, especially in fashion.
We shop with our eyes first and then our credit cards. We see first then read.
Making sure your message on every platform and in every form is aligned is an essential ingredient that all cohesive fashion collections have in common.
So here you have it. The secret sauce to cohesive fashion collection commercial success.
Let’s recap what you need to focus on and ensure you know and have in order to ensure success:
Use this as a checklist and see if you have all in place and analyse on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you with the way it is serving your business and you – the fashion CEO?
Or if you’re thinking of starting out – use the above checklist as the foundation you must work hard on creating in order to have an easier time later.
If you feel the need to audit your brand for the above, work on improving your collections or work with us to create the right foundation for the launch of your brand, get in touch with us and let’s schedule a call.