Quest blog by Robert “Bob” McKee, Director, www.bomler.com
Just for the sake of a definition, I’m going to lump everything from Textiles, Apparel (clothing), and Footwear (shoes) under a ‘Fashion Industry’ moniker.
“Back to the Future” … Somewhere between 1978 and 2008 the voice of the consumer was lost. The fashion industry was working / delivering new products and in that trying to throw constant change in front of the consumer to convince them they just couldn’t survive without this ‘new’ item.
The industry mantra had become “seduce the consumer and control the supply chain”. “Cheap and Deep” was the way merchandising was operating – “if there’s enough of it, and it’s cheap enough then people will buy it and we’ll make money on the volume of sales alone “.
No one was doing that one simple thing – look to the consumer for input. Was anyone asking ‘what do you like?’, ‘what would you like to see us do next?’, ‘how do you feel about what we’re offering you?’ or ‘what’s your feeling toward globalization?’.
No one seemed to be considering if it bothered the consumer that more than half of what they were buying became waste within six months of purchase. Or did they still like disposable Fashion once they considered what it did to the global environment?
Many industry experts talk about today’s millennial shoppers as an anomaly – something never previously seen by brands or retailers. Shoppers who value things like knowing the various places that contributed to the clothing that you consider buying and wearing. Today’s shopper seems to value products that are well made, and provide value for the purchaser, often products that made locally, ethically, and sustainably.
Would it shock you to know that much of what you’re looking for is really an exercise in returning to the early roots of the Fashion Industry? It wasn’t until the 1940’s that the ‘bespoke’ tailor or seamstress gave way to mass production – but, even in the early days of mass production brand / retail supply chains were very much local. Make regionally to sell regionally was the way fashion production once was – at that point it was more about logistical constraints than anything else. Today we can use all that we’ve learned and all that we’ve developed to take make regionally and sell regionally to a whole new level.
Personally, I believe in ethical sourcing, free trade, and fair trade. I recognize the role that the Fashion industry has played in global economic growth. The stories of evils in Fashion manufacturing are more fiction than fact – please beware of ‘fake news’. I joined Bomler because of a belief in the mission. Visibility and transparency in the supply chain has always been something Fashion companies have looked for and now it’s becoming possible. By connecting Suppliers – Brands / Retailers – and Consumers – – the day of the “Connected Consumer” is finally on the horizon.