Here at Third Wave Fashion, we understand the amount of research and preparation that goes into launching a successful startup. There are trends to discover and analyze, as well as previous business models to dissect — from all the things that worked to all the things that fell short. Not every great idea will translate into a solid business. VentureBeat coined the term, ‘Enthusiasticus Founder Syndrome’ (we’re not kidding) wherein a novice entrepreneur allows the enthusiasm of his or her idea to take over, and ignores the critical mistakes of inexperience. Other times that isn’t the case at all. There are plenty of fashion tech startups whose business models are so effective and downright innovative that even major brands have adopted their models into their older, more mature fashion tech functions. Here are two of the most recent that we’d like to explore:
Some time ago we published a piece on the fashion tech innovations that are here to stay. With that, we said the Buy One Give One phenomenon wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It turns out we were totally right! Inspired by TOMS and more formerly known as ‘Compassionate Consumerism,’ this practice is now imitated by brands such as Sketchers USA with BOBS and Urban Outfitters with Benefitting Others By Shoes. Implementing this into their business model, Sketchers understood they would be reintroducing their brand in a long-time effort to bring back millennial consumers. (Remember when the Karshasians were their only shot in marketing?) Those in their 20s and 30s, including parents that fall into this age range, are more responsive to the charitable aspect.
Still, it doesn’t feel the same coming from a brand other than TOMS or even Warby Parker. As major brands adopt ‘compassionate consumerism’ that began at the startup level, there’s a feeling that there’s nothing really charitable about this move at all. In fact, it seems like a blatant effort to grow sales and gain traction in markets once more. It some ways, it seems that the Buy One Give One model may be best left to the startups… it’s just more sincere that way.
Another tactic being used by larger brands, which feels a little more genuine, is the rapid move toward embracing technology. We love this. Earlier this week, we shared that Kate Spade hired a third party to bring more digital into their stores. With the move to push Kate Spade Saturday, the brand was recognizing major costs and waste every time they printed and shipped their impeccably designed signage to promote their in-store experiences (which was every week). The answer? iPads. Kate Spade needed to relearn their consumer and the best consumer practices for their brand moving forward. By accepting the advantages of technology (i.e. interaction, attention, and online/offline connections) they were able to pay attention to the success of their campaign and focus on producing beautiful, quality products for their buyers. Startups do this all the time. Their technologies and adoption of other proprietary technologies allow their small business to make assumptions, easily test them out, produce high-quality quantifiable data, and then pivot to just the right place in the fashion tech, beauty tech, or other tech space.
As startups continue to flourish, big brands are realizing the value in going back to the basics. Creativity, community and today’s most useful technologies are the things that are most prominent in these spaces, and major companies are adopting these mantras for themselves at various points of the spectrum. It’s worth the time and effort for any company to consider the direction their business is headed and with technology, the playing field for major brands and startups is now more than level than ever before. As startups multiply, perhaps conglomerates are considering a, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” kind of attitude. We think that’s a great idea.
Leticia Domenech is the Writing and Copyediting Intern at TWF. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.