What are some of the principles of tech that should be applied to fashion? According to Karen Harvey it’s three things: “Consumer-centricity, transparency, and speed.”
You may not know Karen Harvey by name, but if you’re interested in fashion, you’re probably aware of her handiwork. She’s the founder and CEO of Karen Harvey Consulting, and for the past 16 years, she’s been a talent spotter for some of the world’s top fashion brands. She’s famous for her intense storytelling workshops, in which she brings together the leaders of a company to articulate what their brand really stands for and what they want it to accomplish in the future.
She believes that the brands that will thrive are those that focus on understanding their customers and meeting them where they are. Fendi, for example, recently launched a digital platform targeted primarily at millennials that invites people to share content in interesting new ways. On this new website, there’s a page devoted to real people doing inspiring things, another that allows people to share unique and exciting experiences they’ve experienced around the world, and another that encourages artists to apply for a chance to perform at Fendi’s headquarters in Rome. The point is to make Fendi’s voice open and relatable, rather than aspirational and distant.
The most important thing is to place the consumer first. Fashion had—and still has in many ways—a tendency to focus on the brand image rather than the consumer. The thinking was that if the consumer wants to live a glamorous lifestyle, they will follow the brand. This is very different from what is happening in the tech sector, where the consumer is at the center of the conversation and brands are talking to them in terms of where they are right now. Millennials were raised with technology that was perfectly calibrated to meet their needs, so it makes sense that they expect different things from brands.
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