From Concept to Execution
An Ecosystem Approach
To Sustainable Fashion
Providing Targeted Solutions That Solve Real Problems
Author: Kesi Gibson | Date: March 3, 2020
Category: Sustainable Fashion
The fashion value chain is extensive. The leap from concept to retail includes many moving parts and people. On the back-end, you have creative design, technical design, pattern making, prototyping, raw material sourcing, supply chain logistics, manufacturing, quality control, and shipping logistics. On the front end you have models, stylists, make up artists, hairstylists, fashion photographers, videographers, press, media, and bloggers, influencers, retailers, boutique buyers, and individual consumers. Let’s face it, that’s a whole lot of timing, people, and processes that have to work in coordination to guarantee a successful outcome. It is, therefore, no wonder so many talented, dedicated, even business savvy designers get derailed. For those unfamiliar with my story, I grew up in fashion and started working in the industry with my mother at the age of nine. Even though I chose a more intellectual “official” career path, eventually I found my way back to one of my earliest passions – fashion. The three verticals below give a quick high-level summary of the elements we emphasize as we designed the Club Debut value chain.
Some of the hardest lessons I learned half a decade ago: i. An idea for a product is utterly meaningless if you cannot adequately produce it. ii. Going to the “best” manufacturer and paying a high price for manufacturing does not guarantee the quality or necessarily change the iterative process of prototyping. In my case, I actually came to this realization very quickly after failing with a few outsourced manufacturers. Many of the well-known manufacturers, do not actually take you seriously until you can assure them you will be ordering in big volumes, that you have a sizable enough financial chest, or that you have been printed and celebrated by the fashion press. iii. Properly achieving your brand expression requires an understanding of / connection to sourcing networks, raw material options, supply chain and substitutes, and a decent supply of capital. In a nutshell, fashion entrepreneurs need great suppliers to stay in business iv. To successfully make it through to the “finished collection” stage is an accomplishment! But then, a new struggle begins. The creative process that is required to express your design to your potential consumers requires working with the entire gamut of the front end value chain mentioned above. It is messy, time-consuming, exhausting and unfortunately also often underwhelming. It can be even more costly than the back-end process itself. Especially if you are new to working with “creative professionals” it is not the easiest road to navigate between the service providers who deliver even moderately satisfactory outputs and the vultures who prey on inexperience. v. There are key elements that need to be in place in order for the fashion business to survive. While many processes can be and are often outsourced, the experience is often so fragmented and disconnected, that net-net you actually lose in comparison to making the investment in a centralized “team” at once. With so many stages that expose vulnerabilities, it is not very hard to imagine why so many gifted creators get derailed. There’s a reason why only a small percentage of fashion designers succeed each year – and its not for lack of talent or dedication. Sometimes, it’s not even for lack of capital.
I know that sounds like a rant, but I wanted to paint a clear picture: End to end is not linear! That said, an end-to-end value-driven ecosystem surely increases the chance of success. In this set up, designers are able to anticipate demand better, optimize the supply chain, and collaborate more creatively. In case you are wondering what makes our ecosystem value-driven, the answer is in the community of creators and experts we have assembled, and the way we are able to deliver a wide variety of essential functions at competitive prices. Further, as independent designers and creators, I think it is important to share our knowledge base, recommendations and experiences. Social, environmental, geo-political, challenges are also bigger than all of us. If the ultimate goal is to create real change / positive impact in the world, then those goals can only be reached by working together. In sharing we often realize that the problems we thought were unique to us, are actually also being experienced by others. As we solve problems, it is important to be authentic. Part of that means acknowledging that which we can’t do. The other part means also acknowledging that we can’t do it alone. Yes it is possible to collaborate and compete simultaneously. Moreover, you never know how many people’s life you have impacted – just by simply sharing your journey. If you are able to share your resources that could also be valuable. This is what Club Debut is all about. This is the path to creating the future of sustainable fashion. Club Debut is a platform designed to encourage collaboration and guarantees win-win for all parties involved.
Now you must be wondering what makes our ecosystem sustainable? Club Debut’s global fashion ecosystem provides emerging and independent fashion designers with a transparent platform to efficiently optimize their businesses. What is more is “The Creative Exchange (TM)” of “trade-able” valuables, which includes raw materials, specialty resources and professionals such as models and photographers. This adds a layer of predictability and efficiency, making the business process sustainable. If you take away nothing from this blog post, I want to make sure that you walk away with this: For fashion to be sustainable, it has to first be profitable. Designers who aspire to deliver on the promise of sustainable fashion need well thought out ecosystems that are value-driven at every stage. After all, a sustainable fashion business is still that – a business.
If you would like to learn more about Club Debut please do not hesitate to reach out to us. If you are a family office, foundation, angel investor, with an interest in investing in the the creative industries please email us.
We Are Purpose Driven
Club Debut is uniquely positioned to deliver on our platform objectives. We are committed to advancing the longevity and economic possibility of purpose built brands and creative talent who demonstrate commitment, capacity and the desire to follow a framework that commits to sustainability, community impact and profitability. As it relates to client engagement, we will utilize emerging technologies to create immersive experiences that transports the consumer to the atelier, content and fabric labs. We will also curate pop-up events throughout the year; some open to members and non-members like.