Starting a fashion brand in a market as dynamic as India is already a tall order. Add to that the perils posed by the pandemic, and the recipe for success isn’t as easy to master. The slowdown brought by domestic lockdowns with the onslaught of covid-19 had even the biggest fashion brands in the country struggling to work out their pivot strategy. Where does that leave a newly minted label just entering the market?
The key to future-proof your brand lies in preparing for the unexpected. Here's how you can do it:
Master your offering
Step one is to have a really solid offering. Iron out any wrinkles in your collection (or service) before you launch. There is no substitute for a quality product. Build your narrative simultaneously by answering questions like who you’re selling to, what is their buying behaviour, how and where they consume, and build a plan around these insights. Being a good listener is a vital part of the deep-dive.
Keep up with the changing needs of shoppers
A drastic change in the world, as we know, is bound to have an effect on the spending habits of the consumer. Stay one step ahead and pre-empt what else you could offer them instead. A key example: As party and occasion wear took a backseat during the pandemic, several clothing brands launched easy ready-to-wear lines that were more conducive for intimate gatherings. Or brands focused on statement accessories that could work for Zoom meetings and at-home celebrations.
Build a community
The savvy, self-aware and woke consumer of today isn’t exactly consumerist. They value connections and community more, and are more likely to be loyal to brands that foster a feeling of belonging and like-mindedness. From the get-go, identify who you’re speaking with. Apart from your products, what else do you have in common? What makes them tick? Which of your brand values can forge an emotional rapport? Speak about these causes, cultures and current happenings that will engage them—perhaps you can try a cool weekend event, an interactive Instagram live or campaign, a conscious buy-back programme. Pick something in sync with your brand’s personality.
Don’t shy away from risks
You know the saying—no risk, no reward. Tried and tested isn’t always the best way to go. If you have a gut feeling, follow it. Even if everyone else hasn’t jumped on to the bandwagon yet. Don’t operate in a bubble, instead ride the wave of change when it comes to new-age operations. Right now, that could mean being a part of the metaverse or working with digital nomads and remote workers instead of investing in a full-time team.
Spend your money smartly
Allocate capital only where it can work doubly hard for you. If this means skipping the fancy office space, so be it. Intensive digital marketing, on the other hand, could be just the way for you to tap into a wider customer base. Well-targeted paid ads, SEO and influencer marketing are some of the most important tools in a new fashion brand’s arsenal right now.
Divisha Khaitan Kedia is the founder of accessory brand And Also.