After the eventful London Collections Men in June, many of the UK’s menswear designers are hopping on planes to reach out to buyers, fashion commentators, style leaders and the elusive customers in Europe and around the world.
Recognition of the quality of tailoring, its creativity, and innate ‘Britishness’ defines the positioning of the UK menswear brands in the global fashion market. But with the renaissance of the British fashion industry, the prominence of UK men’s and women’s brands on the world stage, and the enormous shake up of how the whole fashion industry does business, new answers are being demanded to that burning question – How do we now create and successfully market a fashion brand? My response to that will be for future posts, in the meantime it’s worth taking a look at some of the new kids on the block, to see how they’re building their presence and capturing the imagination of the fashion industry and its discerning customers.
One such brand is The House of Nines , who have used London Collections Men as a platform to launch themselves, and showcase their first two collections. Their tailoring draws upon their skills honed in Savile Row and shapes their collection around the modern man who’s looking to set the fashion agenda. The House of Nines’ interpretation of key cultural references informs their creative vision and has manifested itself in their Spring/Summer 2014 collection Mythtopia, where influences of science fiction, post-modern architecture and industrial music inform the colours, fabrics, and lines. For instance their keynote piece, the Prism jacket reflects the spire-like contours of London’s iconic Shard building, combining angular seams and darts with tapering lines.
Mythtopia being only the second collection produced by The House of Nines since they launched in 2012, it has already received glowing plaudits from buyers and the style watchers, its attention to high quality tailoring detail unusual in the progressive fashion arm of men’s formal wear. It’s no surprise that the decision to aim squarely at the top end of the market determines a channel strategy that targets independent, high quality retailers who maintain a close relationship with their customers. Having already impressed retailer Autograph Menswear in Birmingham with their Autumn/Winter 2013 collection, generating the highest number of customer orders ever for a new brand in spite of only been trading for months, it’s worth noting the importance of having a brand vision that’s clear and brought to life by the product, and all the touch points, processes, and approach of the business.
Building brand integrity at the beginning is key to introducing it to the world. Social media sits comfortably with the fashion sector – chat, imagery, creativity, support, and connectivity (who you know) are all ingredients the fashion community embrace and espouse with equal measure. Use of social platforms coupled with web and e-commerce capability enables designers to reach out to a global audience, and generate a following of supporters who drive waves of enthusiasm that convert engagement into demand and sales. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have already become tools that fashion brand owners are beginning to wield very adeptly, and their connectivity with the influential bloggers and online journals has meant that managing relationships with this community, while providing engaging content, are the building bricks for planting the brand firmly in the minds and hearts of its customers. Building a community around the brand drives peer-to-peer endorsement and advocacy, which when managed effectively transforms into tangible market demand that’s measurable and provides valuable brand equity, essential for leveraging investment into growing the brand.