The pressure on the fashion industry is increasing: The advent of new production and show cycles and a more complicated logistics operation is affecting not only the retailers and the brands, but the designers themselves. On this week’s Glossy Podcast, Tanya Taylor, designer of her eponymous women’s line, joined us to discuss how she is adapting to an industry in the throes of change.
Edited highlights below.
See-now-buy-now needs to adapt to the designer.
For the Spring 2017 season, Taylor partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue who pre-ordered 15 of her styles before she showed them at New York Fashion Week. It was a way for Taylor, who still runs a relatively small brand, to test the concept of see-now-buy-now in much more guarded way. “I think a lot of people are not sure how to enter this area and test customer curiosity,” she said. The brand was able to get a read on 15 styles before they were showed to see what customers actually want to see now, and buy now.
Designers need to avoid people getting exhausted by what they’re seeing.
For Taylor’s line, the idea of customer exhaustion is even more dangerous. Taylor designs print-heavy, cheery clothing. Prints are emotional purchases well-suited to immediate buying — but also then, run the risk of feeling like an overload. “What’s important to us is needing to address what a customer wants when they want it,” she said. The risk is that a customer sees a print when it’s showed, then see it for six months on Instagram and on celebrities. “So when they finally see it on retail… they don’t want it.” For Taylor, a way around that was to only provide three out of 12 prints to Saks. With Neiman Marcus publicly saying that customer exhaustion is leading to lower sales, Taylor is joining other designers like Proenza Schouler to only lend out clothing to influencers and celebrities if it’s available in retail. “We should all head in that direction,” she said.
Nothing guarantees success.
Taylor followed a relatively well-worn path to success: She was a Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund finalist, then got her clothes into retail. But she is joining the chorus of voices that say that that path is no longer a guarantor of success. “There’s so much more uncertainty with retail. There is also a lot more opportunity with digital of being able able to sell directly to the customer,” she said. “There isn’t a clear path of what I should do.” Even retail wholesale is no guarantor, she said, since a lot of retailers are still trying to figure out who their customers are. “Success is not at all a reliable outcome.” One way to ease the pain: Fashion schools need to provide more 360-degree coaching, teaching students business and marketing along with design. “A lot of students are confused as to what the job entails,” she said.