>

>

Is an Economic Crisis The Right Time to Start a Fashion Brand?

Is an Economic Crisis The Right Time to Start a Fashion Brand?

Covid-19 and the lockdown that came with it have had a huge impact on retail trends and consumer attitudes, and these are definitely not all negatives, in particular amongst bodywear industries.

A Few Words From London Contour Experts Founder, Nichole de Carle: Since March 23rd many of us have been stuck at home, unable to work and with more energy and inspiration than we know what to do with.

Covid-19 and the lockdown that came with it have had a huge impact on retail trends and consumer attitudes, and these are definitely not all negatives, in particular amongst bodywear industries. Fashion United reported a surge in consumer interest towards loungewear, lingerie and activewear, with the US seeing a 55% increase in clicks on lingerie over the last three weeks of March, making it the most clicked category for the whole month.

No one really knows what the economic impact of the coronavirus might be. However, it seems nearly everyone believes a global economic downturn is upon us. If you are considering starting a business or are about to launch your brand, keep in mind that economic crisis offers startups certain advantages.

There is never a perfect time to begin your side hustle, but by making use of the extra time that most of us currently have, you could be putting yourself in the perfect position to get prepared and stay ahead of the curve as we step into the new normal.

Whilst economic uncertainty is never pleasant, some of the most successful businesses have started during a downturn or recession.

THE COVID EFFECT - HOW TO RESPOND TO CONSUMER NEEDS

With consumers stuck inside with their partners, British Lingerie brands have reported a huge increase in sales since lockdown began.

Bluebella have claimed an incredible 180% increase since the start of the pandemic and Figleaves have had a 46% surge in sales of ‘sexy underwear’, as well as a 100% increase in searches for sexy sets.

In addition to consumers looking to spice up their lingerie drawers, sales of activewear have also seen a rise, as people look for ways to keep themselves fit at home. During the last two weeks of March 2020, sales of leggings grew by 15% and sports bras by 29%, showing us that the bodywear industries are thriving over this otherwise challenging period.

Startups tend to be more agile and responsive to change than already established players. If you adopt a lean business model, focusing on reducing waste in your business processes, while maximising value for customers, you are more likely to stand out from the crowd and make your venture a real success. 

These habits should stay with you when the market recovers, giving you higher profit margins since you will be able to lift prices once consumers and clients are spending again. 

If you can build and grow a business when consumer confidence is down and businesses are tightening their belts, your business will be bullet-proof when things improve.

“ONE OF THE MOST COMPELLING FEATURES RIGHT NOW IS A COMPANY THAT CAN EFFECTIVELY DO A LOT WITH VERY LITTLE MONEY.”

I have set up my brand and consultancy during the 2008 recession. Although I faced many challenges, this difficult time made me more resourceful and pushed me to think outside the box and look for unique solutions. It set me up with a scarcity attitude which constantly pushes me to learn new things and innovate, which in turn allows us to be innovation leaders in the bodywear industry.

THE (STARTUP) WORLD BELONGS TO THE BRAVE

The most powerful lesson I have learnt from setting up my company in the time of adversity is to never loose the startup mentality. It gives you a real power to constantly innovate your product and service and to never settle.

This approach gives you freedom to disrupt yourself before anyone else (be it your competitors, the economy, pandemics) does it for you. When the economy is strong, every man and his dog wants a startup. Many of these budding entrepreneurs go straight for funding and eventually squash the bootstrappers. There are less people trying to startup in a downturn because there’s less funding about.

So if you have a real fire in your tummy and truly believe in your idea and your product, I know you’ll be unstoppable. Having less funding at your fingertips makes you more resourceful, careful with your money  and helps you control the ownership of your company, as you will not have to split the pie with bankrollers.

WHY NOW?

Finding the time is always one of the biggest struggles when it comes to building a business. The unprecedented extra time that most of us have at the moment is the perfect opportunity to begin laying your business foundation, without making the commitment of leaving a job unprepared.

If you have been contemplating starting a side hustle and been put off by the uncertainty of the economic situation, know that you can use this time to your advantage and really get ahead of the game. Whilst all businesses are facing a time of uncertainty, as a start-up entrepreneur you have the freedom of no overhead costs and being able to take everything at your own pace.

Building a strong foundation for your business now will put you in the best position to make your business thrive after lockdown. Startups are agile and flexible, and as long as you can support yourself with your minimal overheads, it’ll be hard for the economy to chew you up and spit you out.

IDENTIFY A NEED

The last two months have seen a definite shift in consumer attitudes and purchasing habits, with people looking for items that will fulfil a need or purpose, or that they can make use of at home.

With most people having to cancel their summer holidays, festivals and events, they are looking for something that will make them feel good without leaving the house.

This is why we have seen an increase in sales across lingerie, active and wellbeing industries, with sales being either solution driven or aspirational.

Finding a way to target your product towards fulfilling one of these sales drivers will help to resonate with the current climate and strengthen your launch.

Another factor that consumers are taking more into account when searching for product is sustainability.

As the fashion industry has slowed due to the pandemic, many people are more actively searching for brands that are more transparent about their processes and trying to be more sustainable. Short runs and slow fashion are the key trends reflecting current consumer attitudes, so play to your strengths and be vocal about your sustainability mission.

“MANY INVESTORS ARE CURRENTLY LOOKING TO INVEST IN SOMETHING THAT SOLVES A PROBLEM, AND IS UNIQUE, FUNCTIONAL, AND DOESN’T JUST LOOK PRETTY.”

HARNESS YOUR USP

To ensure that your launch is a success, it is essential that you really dig deep into your USP.

Identify how your product fulfills a gap in the market or solves an issue, then use this to build a marketing strategy.

Tell consumers what sets your products apart and why they can’t live without them; they have more time to shop around and think about their purchases, so you need to stand out from the crowd.

Make sure your customers know about your approach to sustainability, the issues your product fixes and the outstanding quality your customers sign up to when buying from you.  In challenging times, people stop being wasteful and start to look toward better solutions and buying things that will last them for longer and will act as little luxuries.

As an entrepreneur, you will be having to make decisions about where to invest your money to build your start-up.

There are two key factors that are especially important at this time and will enable you to capitalise on your USP: product development and marketing.

Investing time and money into product development will allow you to carve out your USP and differentiate your product from others in the market, giving your brand and product credibility and authenticity. Then it is crucial that you prioritise a marketing strategy, as this will help you to make an impact with your launch and gain essential visibility.

TIME TO CONNECT

With consumers spending more time at home, either furloughed or under lockdown, people are spending more time on social media and searching the internet.

Now is the perfect time to really capture their attention and form a strong following and community amongst your customer base, that will last.

Consumers are looking to brands and influencers for guidance and inspiration on ways to entertain or look after themselves at home, so find a way to market your product as a solution, something that they can use to make themselves feel better.

There is also much more of a focus on authenticity, as consumers look for a more human interaction and want to see how people are really taking care of themselves.

As well as using this time to create a strong social media presence, create visibility in the marketplace and connect with your customers, this is also a great opportunity to form partnerships.

Look to influencers creating clever targeted marketing strategies that are getting great engagement over lockdown, these are the people to target. Reach out and make connections whilst people are working from home and have more time on their hands, they will be invaluable to you in the future.

“WE BELIEVE THERE’S GOING TO BE A ‘LESS IS MORE’ ATTITUDE WITH CONSUMPTION, SINCE PEOPLE WENT SO LONG WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING DURING COVID. THAT WILL MEAN LUXURY THAT FOCUSES ON QUALITY AND IMPACT.”

BUILD LOCALLY, SELL GLOBALLY

Worldwide closures have caused delays and issues working with international business, but this is an opportunity to discover local businesses and ways of building your brand without having to look overseas.

Developing your brand locally can have many benefits including increased involvement and communications, that will allow you to stay in complete control of your business.

Covid-19 has forced businesses and individuals to alter their mindset and really look at what is available to them locally, allowing us to better support each other.

Rather than rushing straight into selling internationally, use the restrictions to your advantage and prove your concept locally to begin with. This will allow you to gauge consumer reaction and understand your market position before investing in selling overseas. After the restrictions have lifted and you have tested the waters, you can move onto international markets with confidence and a better understanding of your business.

WHAT IF?

Using this time wisely can only work to your advantage. Side hustles require time and commitment, and right now we have more time than ever before.

Build a solid foundation, connect with customers, form partnerships and look to local businesses to develop your side hustle, and you could find yourself making waves by the time restrictions have eased.

Look for opportunities in your marketing and if things take longer to come together than you had expected, change your strategy, be versatile and be resilient.

Learn from mistakes and don’t give up.

Most importantly, remember that me and my team are always here for you. We are here to support you with our design, production, marketing and business development expertise.

We cannot wait to watch you succeed!

Nichole de Carle, Founder of London Contour Experts

Blogs

Exploring Sustainable Innovations: Insights from Performance Days in Munich

Our team was present at Performance Days, a significant event for professionals in the bodywear fashion realm. With an emphasis on sustainable fabrics, this forum provided crucial insights for industry leaders. We’ve condensed these insights to offer guidance on navigating the latest trends and innovations for your upcoming collections.

Meet Hysculpt

Our family has expanded to include a two new companies. Head to HYSCULPT for all your marketing & PR needs and get to know Bodywear Lab for design and production support!

Meet Bodywear Lab

Our family has expanded to include a two new companies. Head to HYSCULPT for all your marketing needs and get to know Bodywear Lab for design and production support!