New Vs. Known: Balancing the Product Range

While the fashion industry continues to navigate unpredictable times, it has become even more important to find the optimum balance during range building, hitting the sweet spot between the safety net of best sellers and the excitement of newness. 

Six months have passed since the initial lockdown restrictions were put in place in the UK, and the fashion industry continues to struggle. Strategic decision making throughout the buying, merchandising, and marketing processes is more important than ever. 

 Simply put, consumer buying behaviours have changed, and people aren’t buying in the same way, or as much as they were pre-pandemic. Lives have been changed considerably and the foreseeable future remains extremely uncertain. Brands are experiencing dramatic reductions in sales, and while some have managed to successfully switch outputs to cater to higher performing categories, such as lounge and athleisurewear, others do not have such flexible processes in place in order to facilitate pivots towards these comfort driven, versatile styles.  

For brands, being relevant is no longer about stocking the latest ‘trends’. Fundamental shifts have seen the system flip, with authentic trends building from the ground up as emotional responses to situations and evolutions in lifestyle, rather than as themes dictated by high end designers. Brands are being forced to change up and adapt to an evolving retail landscape, rethinking established routines whilst remaining agile, and optimising decision making around seasonal and versatile dressing. 

The fashion system has been accelerating at an alarming rate, fuelled in recent years by the see-now-want-now effect of social media, and the fulfilment of these desires by over saturated drops of newness, lower prices, constant discounting and express delivery options. The pandemic has forced brands to slow down and reassess, future proofing strategies and solidifying offerings with strong foundations of known and trusted product. Balancing these known items with relevant newness is key.

A more considered and flexible approach to design, manufacturing, and styling, will be key going forwards. Brands must plan for uncertainty, and brace their businesses with strong and reliable foundations, while remaining agile in order to offer relevant newness. 

To learn more about how the retail landscape has changed, how brands are adapting, balancing your range, and staying relevant through consumer engagement, watch the recording of the BDA London webinar New Vs. Known.

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