SKU’d: Three designers reimagining the business of fashion

Telfar, Marc Jacobs, and Tommy Hilfiger are all approaching retail in a distinctive way. Their innovative choices might soon become the norm for conducting business.

Kaarin Vembar is completely enamored with the fashion and luxury industries. In an effort to provide readers with information, her managing editor decided to offer her a column because she also has a feisty tongue. You may get in touch with Kaarin at

It’s no secret that the fashion industry is undergoing a significant transformation.

It’s not always necessary to participate in runway events to build a following for your business. And just as easily as fashion week, TikTok or Instagram can be used to identify the origin of a trend. The monthly print fashion magazine has all but disappeared, and magazines that previously informed us of what was fashionable and what wasn’t.

Additionally, consumer behavior is changing. While department stores are still around, there are fewer that sell designer or high-end clothing. Customers may purchase directly from a label online or in person, and the epidemic showed us that a business doesn’t need to have physical locations in all big cities to make an effect. Customers are far more willing to take advantage of product drops, acquire used goods, and use social media platforms, which are quickly changing to accommodate e-commerce.

Some firms are stepping up to the plate to meet customers where they are even as consumers change their buying habits. This in turn is encouraging innovative business model thinking.Here are three designers who are taking a cutting-edge approach to the retail industry. Whether it’s Telfar developing a Bag Security Program, Tommy Hilfiger investing concurrently in the metaverse and runway, or Marc Jacobs finding success by restricting scope.

1. Telfar

Telfar has a paradoxical strategy: Give everyone what they want. Many labels are still trying to find out how to offer product drops without having half of their fans want to start a fire (looking at you SNKRS app).

With the introduction of his vegan leather bag, later dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin,” Telfar Clemens quickly rose to the top of the fashion world.Telfar items frequently run out due to their functional yet stylish design and reasonable pricing. The designer has come up with creative ways to make his items affordable and is quite clear about his label’s objective of “not for you — for everyone.” Particularly now, when consumers (and bots) like buying things right away and then selling them on secondary marketplaces.One strategy the business is employing to address that is Telfar TV. During New York Fashion Week in the autumn of 2021, the designer announced the beginning of the brand’s 24-hour, live network. The business stated, “In essence, we started a TV Channel without any content – because we are weary of being content for other channels. More encouragement is given to fans to submit their own films so they may be showcased on the channel while still keeping ownership of their creations.Targeted product drops are featured on Telfar TV as “drips.” The company will flash a QR code on the screen for one minute at random intervals. To place an order, viewers may scan it with their phone. The business said, “A drip is less bags than a drop, but your chances of receiving one are higher.

In 2020, Telfar also introduced its very well-liked Bag Security Program. Customers may request as many products in any color they like through this endeavor, and the items will be manufactured and delivered within a few months.

We are not about excitement and scarcity, the company’s website stated at the time of the release. We had no intention of making it difficult to obtain products. But the fact is that when thousands of bags sell each second (with or without bots and resellers), we don’t even know how many to create.

Shoppers are required to pay all fees upfront when placing an order through the program. As a result, the designer is able to fully fund the project and is aware of its supply chain requirements.

This past April saw the launch of the fourth version of the program, which ran for 36 hours. Without restrictions, shoppers may buy any shopping bag in any color and size. (Okay with restrictions. Everything else was fair game, with the exception of the brand’s partnerships and circular or duffle bags.) Between July 15 and October 31 of this year, shipment was promised.Early in June, a Bag Security Program update was delivered to customers, stating that the business was ahead of schedule. Additionally, it requested that the excited receivers not inquire as to when. It’s coming” and gave the anticipatory response, “God has a plan,” to the query of why one individual would receive their order before another.

2. Tommy Hilfiger

The return of Tommy Hilfiger to New York Fashion Week is announced.

A “experiential runway event,” which strives to create an experience that is both in the real and digital worlds, will be the company’s method of attending the trade show three years later.

The brand will have a real-world display in Brooklyn in September while also providing a metaverse experience centered on their Fall 2022 collection.The business will also provide a see now, purchase now option, which it is referring to as a “industry first.” Roblox avatars wearing the designer’s line will appear on the livestream of the runway show. The business claims that these avatars will “take over the remade virtual city of New York.”According to a business release, new retail ideas will be implemented in a few Tommy Hilfiger locations concurrently with the collection’s premiere, and “takeovers with major wholesale and pure player partners globally will complement the phygital presentation.” That is a lot of words that don’t actually convey the situation. However, it appears that this idea will go beyond Brooklyn and Roblox in general. Instead, a more expansive mood is making its way to its physical stores, the catwalk, and online.It’s not just Tommy Hilfiger’s entry into the metaverse that makes it stand out as a brand. Many businesses are striving to grasp how to communicate with an idea that few people are familiar with. Businesses are encouraged to at least consider this meta-thing that may create a lot of money since the metaverse is predicted to have an influence of up to $5 trillion over the next eight years. (In addition, what has ever stopped a business from creating a product, branding it, and enticing consumers to purchase it without truly considering what it is? It almost represents the American Dream.)Last year, Tommy Hilfiger and Roblox started working together. This summer, they deepened their collaboration. In order to introduce goods, provide special experiences, and foster community, the firm created Tommy Play. It has further announcements about digital and gaming experiments planned for the upcoming months.Tommy Hilfiger is intriguing since it is investing heavily in something digital while yet retaining a conventional presence and remaining true to its heritage in clothes. The firm hasn’t deviated much from what works; it continues to create apparel that reflects its identity. And it appears to be working. In a recent article, Tommy Hilfiger was mentioned as a favorite brand for casual clothing and footwear among Generation Z.

3. Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs has a history of foresight.

He staged a grunge-themed runway show in the early 1990s, but it was so far ahead of its time and misunderstood that it cost him his job at Perry Ellis.

The designer eventually became Louis Vuitton’s 16-year artistic director and launched Marc by Marc Jacobs in the early 2000s. When the well-known diffusion label was discontinued in 2015, the business almost fell off a cliff because it was responsible for up to 80% of its sales.In the meanwhile, the company’s C-suite executives were constantly changing. The brilliant move to shut down Marc by Marc Jacobs was made by Sebastian Suhl, who led the company as CEO for three years. As its new CEO, Eric Marechalle was hired from Kenzo. In 2018, John Targon was hired to oversee a lower cost line for the label but quit after only two months, or about as much time as it took him to get a coffee and find out where the light switches were in his office. Olympia Le-Tan, a French accessory designer, joined the firm in 2018 after leaving her own label, only to be let go in 2020.

To sum up, Marc Jacobs has experienced it.

But the corporation has discovered a strategy that is taking it forward. The firm’s sales have increased by double-digit percentage points, according to a recent article from The Business of Fashion. The company wants to establish 20 locations in the next 18 months and hopes to reach $1 billion in annual sales over the next three to five years.This is probably due to Marc Jacobs designing a runway collection with fewer outfits, then selling a different collection under the name The Marc Jacobs. (The business also engaged in a comical legal battle with Ohio State University over the trademark for the term “the”). Although The Marc Jacobs products are marketed more affordably for a wider audience, they nonetheless closely resemble the styles from the catwalk.The framework is put up so that designer Marc Jacobs can focus on producing high concept art, which is what he does best. Although, let’s face it, the intersection of those who are willing to wear high concept fashion and those who can afford it is quite tiny, there is still a product that can be worn by a bigger audience.In 2020, the business also released Heaven, a product with a younger target in mind. Additionally, it provides the fashion business with a potential clientele that is already interested in its style.For each of these designers, some ideas will be successful while others will need to be changed or abandoned entirely. However, they all have the benefit of being more accessible. Each company is extending an invitation so that more individuals may take part in a sector that has traditionally benefited from exclusivity and elitism. And some businesses are still employing it as a strategy. Chanel, for example, is getting ready to create upscale locations for its most devoted patrons amidst record-breaking sales.However, other designers are succeeding by letting customers explore a new connection with their brand and goods. As is the case with fashion, they are discovering that more is more.

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