Rebecca Taylor likes to compare fashion with Netflix.
The veteran fashion designer, who started her own line in the ’90s and has since made a name for herself with her own brand of feminine, modern aesthetics, thinks that the very way fashion works has changed, and it bears more resemblance to how people watch TV than anything else. “People are consuming fashion, gobbling everything up quicker and quicker,” she said on this week’s episode of the Glossy Podcast. “It’s how we watch TV shows. Think about how long it takes to make a show. And then, gulp. It’s the same with fashion. You almost can’t make it quick enough.”
Edited highlights from her Podcast interview are below.
Fashion could also take cues from food.
Taylor is a big believer in brick-and-mortar, even as she’s put lots of muscle into her e-commerce and wholesale operations. “You almost need one as much as the other.” But the key, for her, is finding new ways for her customers to “consume” her fashion. She’s taking cues from meal delivery services like David Chang’s Maple: The brand is now working on an “edited” collection that will extend personalized in-store services. The idea is that the brand’s in-store manager will put together an assortment of items from new collections and send it to favored clientele. If they like it, they’ll keep it — which also takes a cue from multi-brand services like Trunk Club. “I love the idea of doing a very extremely edited approach to fashion,” said Taylor.
Designer burnout is real.
Much ink has been spilled discussing how new ways of creating fashion have affected the designers themselves. With more see-now-buy-now options and more collections, Taylor is part of the coterie of designers that’s seen first-hand how much more there is to do. Back when the brand started, the company did six collections a year, then moved to eight. Today, it ships every four weeks. “You don’t expect artists or architects to produce on the level fashion designers are. I don’t know why this particular profession has been chosen to do this,” she said.
No shows work.
Taylor stopped showing at New York Fashion Week two years ago, a decision she said has led to better margins across her company. “The runway shows were important when I started,” she said. But two years ago, she started bringing in more data and analytics, and realized that the effect of shows stops at the front row. Instead, she’s taken the extra money (she said it costs at least $100,000 to put on a show) and put it toward more high-end shoots for e-commerce. She’s also doing more lookbooks, something she says makes financial sense. “We’re not doing 40 looks, with 180 pieces for a show that may not even sell,” she said. “Shows are not a great business model. If you just do it very focused, you come out with something that feels much truer.”