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My fashion friends and have I have been deliberating a lot recently about what we think is required to make a brand stand out. We have all worked in the fashion industry for many years, at all levels of the market and have observed the rise and fall of many companies. After a couple of glasses of wine, we all agreed that for a brand to be outstanding they have to:
- Decide who they appeal to and stay true to that customer profile.
- Offer the customer aspirational, age appropriate, affordable product that excites them.
- Create a story around the product and build a heritage.
- Be aware of the competition and the catwalks but dont be obsessed with them, create a unique identity.
- Above all - know who you are and stick to it.
There are a few High Street brands who do this really well and increasingly they are to be found in the often scorned at 'middle market'. Over the last few years, we have seen the high end designer labels such as Prada or low end companies such as Primark dominate the High St. It was either about the label or the bargain, with nothing in between.
Meanwhile several brands were quietly ignoring high fashion trends and chasing the 'next big thing' and steadily building extremely successful businesses.
We made a list of the brands we like purely because they know who they are and offer a focused range. Sometimes we may not personally like the clothes, but we admire companies such as Jane Norman, Zara and Karen Millen because they understand their customer and offer them appropriate product. We also love Uniqlo, Muji, Toast and of course COS.
Another company we all agreed had got it right was Boden and when I visited the Boden press day last week, it confirmed everything I thought about them. Love or hate the clothes (Boden can be a bit of a fashion Marmite) you cannot fail to be impressed by their clear focused vision, attention to detail and amazing brand identity.
Boden so know who they are, understand their customer and tell a story. They are aspirational but never scary and don't chase high fashion trends. They subtly change the collection each season with clever use of colour and unique prints. Always true to their brand identity, I am pretty sure you would have to be a 'Boden person' to work there.
We wish there were more High St brands who were so focused, especially for the over 40 market. We know exactly what we want and how it should look, but unfortunately no one seems to realise the potential in this largely untapped market.
So if any retailers are reading, get in touch, as we have the dream team ready to create a new super brand!