As a way of analyzing your fashion business’s capability of being efficient and sustainable as well as competitive, you must look at your business value chain. A value chain is the full range of activities like design, production, marketing and distribution that a business goes through to bring a collection into the market. For a fashion business, the value chain starts with the choice of material used to make the final products and consists of everything else that is added to that product before it reaches the consumers. A value chain therefore shows all the stages involved in adding value to a product, which means that the stronger the chain, the more valuable a product will be. In fact, [bctt tweet=”if you looking for a way for your business to gain a competitive edge, the value chain is key.”]
Michael Porter, who first introduced the concept of value chain, defines the value chain as made of both primary activities and support activities. In fashion, primary activities relate to operations (design and development), sale, marketing, maintenance and support of a product. Secondary activities support primary functions, such as procuring effective technology to reduce cost, training and motivating staff, because people are a significant source of value, and having an efficient organizational infrastructure.
Ultimately, [bctt tweet=”to be successful, the value chain needs to be market-driven; it must match its production process to the demands of the consumers”]. However, as a fashion business you must recognize that you can have a positive or negative impact on environmental and societal aspects of your community depending on your methods of production.
In this article we will be looking at the operations featured in a fashion brand’s value chain; design and development. Here are some things to consider as you design and develop your brand.
Development, as a process in the value chain of a fashion business, entails designing, creating and marketing. The fashion industry requires you to develop fashionable goods for your customers, and this involves, planning, developing fashion-oriented products for a specific market. To have a proficient development process, you have to work closely with the design team. However, if you are just starting out, it means [bctt tweet=”you have to design with your market in mind”]. Developing a product for a market means, looking at your clients, trends, seasons, and studying your competition and the general fashion industry.
In designing, many designers use mood boards in order to help them stay focused and consistent with their line. Mood boards convey the overall feel of a project and by putting together images and objects; it facilitates creativity and innovation as the specific collection develops. Not only are mood boards important as a guiding tool in the early stages of design, they are also a great communication tool when you want to show your vision to others (clients, retailers or the media).
In creating a mood board, a designer, draws their collection or how they envision they collection to look like. This also helps them in creating samples and determining sizes, all of which facilitates the design process by bringing out potential problems and issues into light. If you want to check out a great mood board, check out Nyorgh Agwe.
It takes a good understanding of the design process involved within the fashion environment, knowing about apparel aesthetics, fashion consumer spending, target markets and the role of fashion as an influence on society to develop a value infusing chain in your development process.
Moreover, price analysis, and quality of products should be kept in mind as you develop your product because in the end, those are what will determine the value of your apparel or goods.
Aesthetics in design
Creating artistic, unique and gorgeous products is an important aspect in adding value to your product. In fact, in a fashion business, your first step to creating a valuable product lies in how you design it. Everything you design will have some sort of impact on the market or none at all, which is why you have to properly research on presentation, cost and fabrics in order to better anticipate how your consumers will react to your product.
Although all designers incorporate various components to create successful designs, there are some elements of fashion design that should be adhered to. In order to create a valuable product, one must not just look at the process but also the aesthetics. These elements are balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis and unity. The way in which these principles are applied affects the theme and message of your products, which ties into the communication of your brand.
Moreover, you add value to your product if you incorporate these elements, because that is what your market expects and wants. High-end fashion in which these elements are blurred for exoticism is also possible but if your aim is for the larger market then these elements should be your guiding points; study your market. If you want to know more about these elements click here
Effective design process
Increasing competitive advantage means looking at different activities that contribute to your brand’s positioning with design being essential.
Fashion businesses that succeed have a profitable design process, which means that they utilize their budgets wisely and sell their products resourcefully. As a business, it is important to study your sales summaries, to see which products are succeeding and which are not. Pivotal areas to focus on are: unit sales, total volume, sell through percent, net gross margin, net average retail price and returns. Moreover, it is important to ask for customer and staff feedback to see what went wrong, if a certain product is not doing so well, what is missing and what can be improved.
Additionally, it is important to study your competition. Sometimes it is possible that you have not noticed a specific fashion trend, and your competitors might help you in seeing that. Most customers have a limited budget to spend in fashion and it is important to understand what is ‘hip’ and what is selling. In this regard, this is why observing other brands, especially ones that are succeeding, is important in uplifting your product designs, tweaking and improving. We are not advocating for copying only improving your products to fit your market. You are after all designing for them.
Ethical developing and designing
Over the years, the fashion industry has been involved in various unethical practices, such as exploitative labor, environmental damage, use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty. Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, which empowers people and minimizing negative impacts on the environment. For example, on April the 24th, 2013, around 1133 people were killed and over 2500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex
collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This disaster, the worst ever industrial disaster
in the fashion and textile industry, led outright to questioning the transparency and sustainability of fashion industries. This sparked the hashtag #whomademyclothes, which asked people to question how and where their clothes were made. Led by Fashion Revolution, the aim of the campaign was to bring people together to use the power of fashion to inspire change and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain.
There are a few fashion brands that strive to take in active role in poverty reduction and create sustainable livelihood, most notably Lalesso and BUYU.
As you design and develop your brand and products, what matters are efficiency, profitability and social responsibility. Fashion businesses value chain can be complex, but ultimately the design and eventual development of your product is pivotal in skyrocketing your brand’s value. As you vie for success and perhaps fame, it is s important to note that a fashion business can also be a tool for betterment and empowerment in not just your region but also the global community.
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