Why do Fashion Businesses Fail to Continuously Innovate?
Within most businesses, innovation is a determining factor in initial success, and then becomes a key driver for future growth. Without innovation, businesses would find it hard to position themselves in competitive markets. The same is true when a business tries to tap a market niche that was previously unserved. The risk for any business then, is stagnation and the inability to continuously innovate.
In the case of the fashion industry, innovation is key to developing and marketing new trends. Fashion companies that don’t innovate are at risk of falling away from current fashion and losing market to the competition. Fashion retail and wholesale industry executives need to understand what it is that causes the inability to innovate, and only through this can stagnation be avoided.
Innovation is when invention is brought to Market
Sometimes the companies that fail are actually innovators at their core. Often the problem is that fresh ideas are never brought to market, as they meet roadblocks within the organization.
The process of innovation begins with a concept and project feasibility, only from there can development, execution, and production be carried out. Many projects die at the feasibility stage because businesses are afraid to take risks. Sometimes this culture comes from the highest executive level. There are a number of key reasons that cause new ideas to be shelved and left to stagnate.
- A company deems a new idea doesn’t fit with the current product lineup.
- The risk of innovation is seen as too high, compared to refining current lines and styles.
- The business lacks the processes to overcome problems in design and implementation.
- The business lacks long term vision, and has no mid-term goals or milestones set.
- Current success is taken for granted, and innovation is not seen as critical.
Overcoming a Culture of Stagnation
Current success is no guarantee of future prosperity. It is heard time and again in the fashion industry; ‘You’re only as good as your last collection’. Even when fashion companies see the value in innovation, they often lack a clear process to follow.
Fashion companies, by nature, are made up of a large proportion of creative thinkers. This in theory should make innovation easier. In practice, a business will still need to follow an innovation process model to ensure that ideas are developed and supported through to execution.
- Identify a niche or need that is currently unfulfilled by existing lines.
- Bring a concept forward, and go through a process of problem solving and elimination. Roadblocks should be removed, and risks should be identified. 2a. The business side of the project should be analyzed for cost, projected profitability, and marketing potential.
- A green flagged project can then enter the stages of design, prototyping, testing, and eventually manufacturing and marketing.
Even on a simplified level, it is easy to see that innovation is highly process based. For those in the fashion industry, the key is to create a culture where innovation and change is not feared. Legacy companies all suffered from an environment where innovation was neither encouraged nor pursued.
Only through innovation can fashion companies ensure their brands remain relevant, desirable, and most importantly, successful.
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