The fashion industry is notoriously cutthroat and competitive. From magazines to emerging designers, popular media sells us the picture of an industry where you may literally have to use a stiletto to knock out your competition.
However, over here at Marielle|Ejiama, we are not so sold. Yes, we all want to be successful, build a customer base, and increase our sales and visibility and in our opinion, your competition may be your key to doing this, especially if you’re just breaking into an industry. Check out three (of the many) reasons we think it’s important to take a conciliatory approach:
1. Learn from each other and increase the resource pool.
The truth is, after you’ve done all of your independent research (you have done your research, right?) there are still many things you don’t know. Some things are only gained through experience and trial and error.
Don’t be surprised that some people will be kind enough to at least steer you in the right direction. You shouldn’t expect a list of resources with phone numbers or their best sales secrets, but some of the veterans in your industry may suggest a different direction than you were originally expecting. This can open up a new set of design possibilities and challenges.
Case and point: we reached out to Alice and Moriah of Feral Childe for advice on how to meet fabric minimums as emerging eco-fashion designers. Alice wrote back and was incredibly transparent about how Feral Childe started and where we could look further. We’re not saying this will happen on the first e-mail you send, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Politely and humbly.
2. Get to know yourself and your customer better.
If you’ve identified another brand as your competition that means that you’ve already gathered more insight on your customer. You now know a little more about their shopping habits, which can include aesthetic, price point and preferred method of shopping (online versus in store).
Even though they’re your competition, chances are that you are not doing the exact same thing. Figuring out who you hang with is an opportunity to self-evaluate and self-define. What is it that sets you apart and marks your lane? What do you have in common? Hone in on what makes your business unique and give props to your competitors for the things they do well.
3. Grow together: Increase visibility for your industry, which means more sales for all of you.
This point may be more applicable for our industry, eco-fashion, but it still stands. For us, the more consumers are educated about eco-fashion, the more exposure all eco-fashion designers get by proxy. As a whole, this means more accessibility for fabric, mills, notions and advertisements from key fashion magazines.
Whatever your focus is, or whatever niche you’re in, everyone benefits from visibility, which draws customers to your industry!
A few of our favorite ‘competitors’ who have paved the way are Alice and Moriah of Feral Childe and Amie Cunningham of Thief&Bandit. Both are awesome eco-friendly fashion labels founded by badass chicks with gorgeous, and distinctly different, design aesthetics.
Who are your favorite competitors? Tell us on the comments below!