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The apparel industry is dominated by huge chains and major labels that profited the most from the fashion industry characteristics, which is mostly the ability to replicate any piece of clothing at a lower cost. However, since technology is starting to play a very important role in the fashion business, startups are making a name of their own. After describing the business of fashion and taking into account the specific features of startup companies we can now better understand the reasons behind the increasing number of startups emerging in the fashion industry. Direct sales and mass customization are two channels that have been heavily utilized by fashion startups over the past few years with much success. Mass production processes with the flexibility of individual customization allow them to pursue this strategy. The product is then made individually and sent to the customer. For example, Nike (Nike ID) have been offering a customizable shoe for several seasons and while the possibilities are open for the larger brands, it’s really the smaller more nimble brands that can accelerate it due to flexibility and customer expectation. The most successful companies are those that have a built-in story; not a story that a PR agency helps them put together, but a real and true story that they honestly share. Regarding partnerships- the key is often having the same vision and values but different skill sets. If partners disagree about something, they have to figure out why. A lot of scale-ability can be gained by hiring outsourced consultants. So for the cost of one full time employee startups can have five or ten different people who all have specialized skills, which is another value proposition for outsourcing.
Starting a new business is a dream that many people have, but they to try to assess their idea through another person's eyes. Responses from friends and family are likely to be positive, because they'll want to show their support, but, ultimately, the idea must appeal to other people. One of the best strategies for an entrepreneur is to be like an inquisitive child. Asking the question “Why” to every crucial factor. They must be able to justify their thinking. Enthusiasm alone is not a sound basis on which to set up a business and nor is a commitment to hard work. Startup founders must be realistic and consider many other factors.
“I find attending smaller, more intimate events where you're having a real conversation with someone is better than going through a large network. Personal introductions are always the best.”
While non-profit movements build exposure, startups are finding ways to work sustainability into retail with innovative lines, business models and shopping philosophies. Startups in the fashion industry have an opportunity to change the way people shop and the way the clothes are produced. Recent fashion research papers sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion philosophy. What are people doing with all these cheap clothes and more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?