Traditional retail is struggling at the moment. Earlier this spring, Nasty Girl filed for bankruptcy along with Payless ShoeSource filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy who outlined plans to immediately close nearly 400 of its 4,400 stores globally. Ralph Lauren is shuttering its flagship Polo store in NYC. J. Crew is $2.1B in debt. Neiman Marcus is up for sale.
We felt the tides of retail shifting over four years ago. Retail stores were increasingly becoming irrelevant to our peers, transparent e-commerce became mainstream (‘hello’ maker movement via Etsy and Kickstarter) and e-commerce – tied to data – informed design and merchandising decisions. When the tides change you have to adjust your sails. Or in our case, build a better boat.
A sea change is here…
At Nineteenth Amendment, we have been talking about this for a while. Namely, how inventory is a giant ball and chain around the necks of retailers and that the brands who will survive 2017 will be nimble with responsive ways to produce product just-in-time. But everyone knows that the fashion industry is deeply entrenched in a pre-internet business model and it’s slow to change… So how does an industry change course quickly before the wave fully hits?
The solution is Smart Fashion and it’s the antithesis of ‘Fast Fashion.’ We believe that changing the game is about giving brands a way to authentically bring their products to market without inventory risk while democratizing and diversifying the playing field (i.e. removing the financial barriers to entry). We took the approach of helping independent brands first. Why? Because they are typically nimble – willing to try different approaches, adapt to technology quickly – and are incredibly talented and underrepresented.
Andit doesn’t require a lot of capital. Pre-sales coupled with on-demand manufacturing removes the upfront investment needed for inventory. With a patent pending process and software that seamlessly facilitates “just-in-time” and “on-demand”, the Nineteenth Amendment platform gives brands the tools to scale their businesses by allowing them to sell directly to customers in pre-sale showrooms without investing in inventory.
Along with facilitating great business practices, our platform allows designers to engage with shoppers directly in a way not previously possible from design through delivery. With a lot of the manual components of running a fashion business built-in (like marketing email automation, cost-per-unit break down, consumer data insight, and production management), a team of two can manage over 1,700 SKUs.*
And you don’t need a retail space for any of this. But getting in front of shoppers and meeting them face-to-face definitely is a value-add opportunity to learn from your customers and make sales. That’s why we partner with some of the leading retailers and brands to create unique fashion-as-experience events with the likes of Macy’s Inc, Lord & Taylor, Microsoft, and more. You can learn more about our ‘fashion-as-experience’ strategy by listening to this American Fashion Podcast.
The fashion industry was made for this: connecting the patronage of style-conscious shoppers with talented designers and quality made products that aren’t ubiquitous. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ve built the platform just-for-you for just-in-time retail and production.
2017 will be a Darwinian year for the future of retail. The brands and retailers who are swift to adapt to this new consumer while maintaining a long-game strategy with new technology will survive this rapidly changing environment. As Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon said, “You gotta catch the wave. And to catch the wave, you gotta be early.” It’s time to ride the wave.
*I know this because we have. In our first iteration of the model, we managed all production of sales through the platform.