Editor Zarko Davinic explores the benefits of a fashion industry’s increasingly popular fusion habits.
We live in an age when we are expected to multitask both in personal life as well as at work, thus the days of thriving in a single skill are long forgotten. As much as setting it as a norm for their employees, today’s fashion businesses are diversifying in a similar manner, with brands working on creating their own formula of a fashion fusion.
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Late last year emotions ran high when the announcement of Parisian and tourist’s alike favourite design shop Colette was closing it’s door in December of 2018. The owners were quick to clarify there is no actual financial reason for the closure, in fact the shop was still quite profitable. Yet this decision came as a result of a personal decision of the founder Colette Roussaux and her daughter Sarah Andelman who ran the incredibly successful shop at the 213 Rue Saint-Honoré address over two decades. This vastly copied business model is now one for the text books, replicated by stores around the globe. It also caught the eye of top fashion houses looking to draw in the customers to their stores. A special Saint Laurent store stands at the place, where the fashion brand runs it’s own hyped products. From opening a coffee shop to even creating it’s own branded condoms as well as luxury dumbbells, Saint Laurent is using the brick and mortar shop to fuse the brand’s signature logo into a Supreme level marathon. At the same time it is allowing everyone to get a taste of the Saint Laurent logo, at an affordable rate.
Seeing a shop going under is hardly shocking today, sooner or later most of the big chains and even luxury brands end up with simply said clinically depressing brick and mortars. Model championed by Zara and H&M starts to increasingly remind of major supermarket chains in the nineties that no one thought anyone else could actually compete with, yet in a similar fashion we are seeing surge of names such as Reserved and Boohoo taking the same turf. In less than a year we got the news of shops such as Topman and Topshop rapidly closing their doors while the fortunes of chains such as Marks & Spencer look like chapters from a dark ages themed fairy tales. Simply these are all a tell signs that the high street model, so aggressively pushed upon us by the fast fashion players, isn’t going to rule the world endlessly.
Today, Inditex and H&M still have their data to cling on to. Reports of successful increase in revenue are carefully sent to members of the press core each quarter. But looking at people only as consumers instead of putting people at the center of the business sounds like a problem. That said, while Inditex creates a slew of redefined brands to target different audiences, all are still operating with the same formula (Bershka, Pull&Bear, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Zara Home, Oysho and Uterqüe are all created at the same company), Hennes & Mauritz tackles the problem with a strong notion of consumer wariness. Sweden based fashion giant is instead focusing on developing brands such as ARKET, COS and &Other Stories. Lets take ARKET, as a shop where you can consider yourself a cup of coffee and a croissant while selecting a new pair of ethically crafted 400USD boot, it can serve as the best example of a fusion enterprise. And just when you are about to leave the store you can purchase yourself a bottle of incredibly Aesop-like skin moisturizer or hand-wash. They also opened the first hyper-local flagship Mitte Garten in Berlins creative Mitte district, offering curated womenswear, selected external brands, vintage pieces and a showroom for customers.
This model copied by the big players is also a method of survival for smaller business across any industry. Fusion businesses by definition are taking two seemingly unrelated services or products and mixing them into one venture. By creating this sort of businesses owners of brick and mortar are allowing their customers to tick off a few boxes of their to do lists and having a great time while doing so.
Originally published in Design SCENE Magazine Issue 32.