It’s not just our industry that is feeling these pressures. A friend of mine who works in the fashion industry recently told me that fashion has had a pretty bad year. For example, retail giant Ralph Lauren, who has avoided economic slumps in the past, just reported major losses as one of the worst performing industry stocks of 2015. As a result, the iconic brand has been forced to close 50 retail stores and lay off 1000 people, almost 8% of their full-time staff. This is attributed largely to their sizable retail overhead, generally stagnant consumer spending on luxury apparel, and the rise of brands such as H&M and Zara, which are known for their fast turnaround. In response, Ralph Lauren is seeking to bring its turnaround for new product delivery from 15 months to a more competitive 9 months.
As an industry that traditionally runs on slower development timelines and trend turnarounds, how do we adapt and compete? Staying on trend and delivering new product is extremely important in order to meet consumer expectation and remain relevant. Though we may have made great progress over the years, the chaotic, ever-changing nature of the world we live in makes an attitude of complacency a pitfall. We have to respond to new challenges and new opportunities.