I am fascinated by the world of fashion.
I have been doing a lot of research on the fashion industry – reading articles, watching seminars. There are so many components that go into developing a successful fashion label. It is not as easy as the e-commerce sites make it out to be.
I read a feature on Shenaz Mohammed a couple of weeks ago on want.folio.
She is a legal professional with a passion for fashion.
I was so intrigued by how she created a career marrying these two worlds. I wanted to get her unique perspective on the world of fashion – here is our chat with Shenaz.
Founder, Fashion By Law ➕ Charter of Fashion
I think people underestimate the amount of work that goes into establishing a strong brand – if your story isn’t authentic or credible no one is going to buy into it. When developing a fashion label, should establishing a solid blueprint be your first goal?
If you equate a strong brand identity to a blueprint then yes. In my experience, successful designers and design houses flourish when they can identify their own unique brand identify and design esthetic; a iconic identifying factor. When you see a Zac Posen dress you know it right away, just like when you see Balmain, consumers can easily identify their designs without needing to see the inside label. That is strong brand identity and should always be at the forefront of the designers mind when creating or sourcing.
FBL offers a wide range of legal services – what are some of the initial legal formalities for new fashion labels?
At FBL we strongly recommend trademarking your brand name and incorporating your business. There are businesses that operate without having trademarked their name, someone could potentially go trademark your name and force a business to stop using that name and or ask for a ridiculous amount to buy back the name.
People buy what they know. If you’re starting a new fashion label building credibility and trust with consumers is paramount in creating a loyal following. You co-founded and were the Director of Operations for a luxury menswear line based out of Toronto. With your hands on experience in creating and directing a brand from start to finish, in broad terms, what does it take to develop a strong marketing plan for a fashion label?
Identifying your target market is key, this is second only to identifying your own unique brand identity. Sometimes creatives fall victim to their own creativity, they want to try everything and create everything. It’s important to understand what you are good at and focus on that, new labels that do well are ones that stay true to their design talents and explore those realms to their depths. Working from end to start is how I advise my designers, think about where you want to see your brand in 5-10 years, and then map out your plan step by step (backwards to present time).
Fast fashion has taken over. People want the best but are not willing to pay the high price points. They see a pair of shoes or t-shirt on Instagram and they want to know where to buy it and how quickly they can get it.
The crux of this comes down to traditional economics of demand and supply created by mass population and need for accessibility. Imagine, three of the wealthiest individuals in the world have assets that exceed those of the poorest 10 percent of the world’s population. The net worth of the world’s billionaires increased from less than $1 trillion in 2000 to over $7 trillion in 2015 so the gap is growing up dramatically. Luxury and couture is not easily accessible to the masses, yet with the internet and instant “exposure” to the high end fashion markets, mass consumers create a “demand” for this type of fashion but cannot afford it. In comes the giant retailers, ready to supply knock off versions of luxury designs. Fast fashion is a double-edged sword as it levels the playing field for consumers to some degree, with a potential heavy ticket prices to mass retailers in the event they get sued by luxury design houses for design and copyright infringements. Just look at Zara, Forever21 and H&M.
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I read an article on fashion trends for 2017 and it indicated there is a movement towards a demand for more social responsibility when it comes to fashion. Personally I am willing to pay more for staple fashion pieces but as for the majority of consumers – I don’t think that is the case. You have close ties to the fashion industry – where do you see the fashion industry shifting over the next few years?
I think in general people are becoming more conscious and socially aware of not only human conditions but also environmental strains. Designers such as Triarchy Atelier Denim and Peggy Sue are dedicated to ensuring their designs are socially and ethically sourced. Again, I’ll stress consumer economics, at times investing in socially and ethically responsible brands comes with a higher price tag, just like eating healthy, why is it organic healthy eating costs more? If you’re on a budget (which most people are) then you want to feel you’ve gotten the most value for your dollars spent. The key with socially responsible brands is helping consumers understand that their money spent is not simply a purchase of a shirt or pair of jeans, it’s an investment in the greater cause for good. If people are at that level where they can afford to adopt that mindset (Maslow hierarchy of needs), then this movement can catch on like wildfire, however if people are worried about paying rent the necessity of life almost forces them to shop mainstream.