The Fashion Industry Stripped Bare

A few weeks ago there was a fantastic article by Marion Hume in the AFR Magazine about the state of the fashion industry, covering both the local and international angles. Of particular interest was Hume’s acknowledgement of the impact of ecommerce in the Australian market.

Highlights from the article include the anecdote around why models in old Australian magazine shoots had to wear basic sandals (because Australia had a very limited to non-existant supply of fashion-forward shoes), and the sidebar on online shopping, which gives a little insight into the emerging mindset from the point of view of fashion insiders:

Oroton CEO Sally Macdonald, an early adopter who moved back from the US to find we were still in the age of dial-up, says it wasn’t just lack of broadband width that lead to the slow shuffle online. She cites sexism, investment here being so male-dominated. She claims men simply failed to understand the relief with which time-poor women would grab the digital life-raft. (The world’s leading luxury e-tailer, net-a-porter, was founded by a woman and its key investor was a woman.)

The takeaway from this comprehensive article is that the fashion industry is changing rapidly and presenting endless challenges to the incumbents. The complexity of these issues shines through: it’s not just a case of ditching everything for an online approach, but rather formulating a response that gives a brand with a significant investment in the offline world the tools to also compete in an online market too. For Australian companies, the most important action is to create an online presence and begin learning. Delay learning at this stage, and a company sets itself up to be chasing the rest of the industry in a relatively short time frame.