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Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry

Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry

4 Ways to Pursue Break-Out Success

In our innovation strategy consulting work, Insight to Action finds that the opportunity to truly create something new and valuable in the market depends on a deep understanding of customers.

Get inspired with our four examples for customer-based innovation strategy consulting for the fashion industry. Here’s an overview of what to expect in this article.

Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry Overview
Customer-Based ExampleInspiration BrandsKey Take-Away
1. Customer SegmentationAnthropologie
Stitch Fix
Hanna Andersson
Innovation really hits a home-run when customer segmentation is on-point. Brands can expand into entirely new industries or continents, bringing their customers along with them.
2. Brand StrategyFoot Locker
B2B relationships in fashion are untapped opportunities for innovation.
3. Event OccasionsTommy Bahama
The Knot
Unique Vintage
Land’s End
A significant amount of fashion expenditure revolves around event apparel. Connecting with customers as they prepare for events encourages both higher spending and becoming their one-stop-shop.
4. Channel StrategySummersalt
Channel choice and innovations can show customers how much you value the customer experience, motivating them to spend more.

Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry:
Customer Segmentation

One over-arching customer segmentation model in this market is life stage of the wearer. With innovation strategy consulting for the fashion industry, we have shared competitor analysis examples in US women’s fashion, along with brand strategy examples in US children’s fashion. Let’s explore how brands are innovating within these two segments.

Innovation in US Women’s Fashion

A review of three women’s fashion brands shows how they are innovating within this customer segment.

  • Anthropologie: This fashion brand has grown beyond clothing to become a true lifestyle brand. Anthropologie’s expertly-honed customer segmentation has allowed the brand to innovate in spaces such as women’s clothing, accessories, home décor, furniture, wedding apparel, beauty and wellness. Parent company Urban Outfitters, Inc. reports sales growth of over $1.3 billion from 2021-23. There are 207 Anthropologie stores operating in the US.
  • Boden: This British clothing brand innovated by hopping the pond to America, with a focus on “gloriously British” style that “brings joy to your wardrobe.” In the US, womenswear and childrenswear categories grew almost 20% from 2020 to 2021. It’s reported in 2022 that the brand saw a 47% increase in the number of US customers, thanks to digital marketing campaigns.
  • Stitch Fix: A purely digital offering, this brand curates clothing for customers who don’t wish to shop on their own. Customers complete a “style quiz,” and a stylist sends them a box of clothing and accessories they can choose to keep or send back. This innovative concept helped the company grow for years and went public in 2017. In the last year, the company has suffered profit setbacks, due to competition and economic realities. For 2024, Stitch Fix posted revenue of $1.6 billion from about 3.3 million customers.

Innovation in US Children’s Fashion

For more perspective on innovation within customer segmentation, let’s explore three examples within children’s fashion.

  • Carter’s: Carter’s is the parent company of several brands that target different segments in the children’s clothing and accessories market. Its innovation has relied on both acquisition of popular start-up brands, like Skip Hop, and creation of new brands, like Little Planet. This family of brands has the seeming goal of appealing to every single parent in the US.
  • Hanna Andersson: The fashion innovation here is a return to classic, functional styles. This premium children’s clothing brand makes its case to parents through long-lasting, functional clothing that is suitable to be handed down.
  • Primary: Here’s another innovation that seems simple but deeply appeals to its customer segments, who value a childhood free from societal expectations and licensed characters. Primary started by offering unisex clothing basics in many solid-color options. The brand has since expanded into stripes and prints (reminding me of how White House Black Market couldn’t sell monochromatic clothing forever!).

These examples can guide innovation strategy consulting engagements for many different kinds of customer segmentation, from demographic categories like regional, income, or gender to psychographic categories that are more qualitatively-defined.

LA-Based FABFAD Envisions a Sustainable Transformation of the Global Fashion Industry

Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry:
Brand Strategy

Innovation in the fashion industry can go further than appealing to consumers in new ways. There is plenty of opportunity in the B2B space, as well. Here are two examples centering on brand strategy.

Foot Locker’s portfolio brand strategy template recognized the shoe store brand’s vulnerability to its reliance on Nike, which accounted for 50% of the company’s sales. Building relationships with other shoe manufacturers like New Balance, Crocs and Converse helped to mitigate that risk. In addition, the company launched two additional store concepts to branch out further: Champs Sports and Kids Foot Locker. After high-water mark of $2.3 billion in quarterly revenue reported in January 2022, the company has struggled over the past year to match previous gains.

Another B2B example in innovation strategy consulting for the fashion industry is LA-based FABFAD. This company’s brand strategy centers on supply chain innovation, with a platform that allows users to design and print custom fabric in small quantities. It enables start-ups and medium-sized businesses to prototype and produce smaller runs, in a more sustainable way. FABFAD’s brand strategy tagline is:

“Concept to Closet Manufacturing Capabilities”

Customer Segmentation Examples for Back-to-School 2023

Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry:
Event Occasions

For consumers, apparel is an important element of many occasions and life events. While we could give myriad examples, here are four event occasions to inspire your thinking.

Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry: Inspiration for Event Occasions
 Market SizeExample Fashion BrandsSample Customer SegmentsBrand’s Product StrategyBrand’s Innovation Strategy
Beach Vacations$20.2B: 2020 Global Swimwear & Beachwear $32.5B: 2027 Projected Market. Resortwear is a recognized growth category in fashion.Tommy BahamaIsland Vacation-Mindset  

Resort Vacationers  

Luxury Beach Vacationers
Upscale, casual vacation clothing, based on the original silk Hawaiian shirtNew category expansion of its “Island Attitude” brand promise to retail home stores, restaurants & bars, and beach gear
Back-to-School$36.9B: 2022 US Back-to-School Market   $18B: 2022 US Back-to-School Clothing MarketBig box retailers like Walmart, Meijer or Target

Mid-level retailers like Children’s Place

More spendy retailers like Land’s End or Schoolbelles
Public School Moms  

Private School Moms  

Homeschool Moms  

Elementary, Middle, High School & College
All brands understand the importance of offering the right clothing and accessories at the right timeMost brands feature a one-stop uniform shop both in-store and online, where Mom can conveniently outfit her student. All customer segmentation examples are similar in this regard, differentiated by price
Weddings$25.9B: 2022 US Bridal Stores Market $28,000: The average cost of a wedding in 2021The Knot – for weddings  

Its sister brands:
The Bump – for pregnancy  
The Bash – for party planning

To a lesser extent, Grooms, Mothers-of-the Bride/Groom, Wedding Party
Thousands of apparel choices in one place, making them easy to find and compareBuilding a brand connected to life’s big events. All aspects of wedding planning in one platform.
Holidays – Halloween Focus$4.1B: 2023 US Halloween Costume MarketUnique Vintage  
Boden USA  
Adult Women & Children (Men are a smaller segment)Upscale Halloween apparel, including costumes and pajamasHalloween growth strategy includes innovations in designs and quality, for clothing that can be worn beyond the party or trick-or-treat occasion
Channel Strategy Example in US Women’s Fashion

Innovation Strategy Consulting for Fashion Industry:
Channel Strategy

Online channels have disrupted the notion that consumers must try on clothes before buying. No fashion category exemplifies the trend to online purchasing more than swimwear. This channel strategy example in US women’s fashion is instructive for finding an innovation strategy consulting partner.

Historically, women have been reluctant shoppers for swimsuits. Research shows that women are more likely to be in a worse mood after trying on a swimsuit than before. Because of shelf space constraints, most retailers offer limited options for only certain body types. And the seasonal nature of swimsuit sales mean staff are often untrained to help consumers shop.

Through innovations in online stores, this channel has become immensely popular with US women seeking swimsuits. Although it may seem counter-intuitive that women can’t try the suits on before buying, these consumers are actually able to buy more confidently, through:

  • Extensive research
  • Reviews from other women like them
  • Expanded product offerings for all body types from swimsuit-focused brands like Summersalt or Cupshe
  • Receiving the product and trying it on in the privacy of her own home
  • Hassle-free returns

Innovation into online swimsuit shopping encourages women to spend more on the perfect suit, and gives them the option of buying more suits (instead of just the ‘only one’ they felt worked for them in-store).

Insight to Action: Innovation Strategy Consulting Experts

The forward-looking experts of Insight to Action are always studying market trends and examples to guide our clients with innovation strategy consulting, for the fashion industry and beyond.

Dive into our Innovation Strategy Resources for more insights, and sign up for our newsletter. Ready to start a conversation? Get to know us at an open office hours event.