Gen Z consumers are more interested in brand authenticity than their predecessors, meaning that brands are increasingly prioritising their core values – rather than the expansion of product volume – to drive global growth and profit from the inside out. Here, we consider the ways fashion brands are building their fan bases through storytelling, digital engagement, store staff education and more.
Patagonia: Giving Back Through Charitable Donations and Informative College Tours
Patagonia already gives 1% of its sales to nonprofit environmental groups but, on Black Friday 2016, the company pledged to donate 100% of the profits made on the day to “grassroots organizations working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards,” and it was later reported that the company donated the $10 million it made on Black Friday sales to environmental organisations.
The outdoor-focused brand born in the 70s, which offers Fair Trade-certified clothing, has retained its relevance by promoting its sustainability-centered ethos. It goes further than reaching out to its existing customer base, too – recently, Patagonia has been on its Worn Wear College Tour series, touring over 20 US colleges to promote sustainability and recycling. The Patagonia team are able to repair visiting students’ worn-out clothes, while other tour workers are on hand to educate students on sustainability – covering everything from how they can making their own clothes last longer, to highlighting other aspects of sustainability, and offering pointers on fixing smartphones and other pieces of expensive tech. The company also offers free repairs on its clothing, in fitting with its idea that clothing should be valued, withstanding the test of time.
Filling Pieces: Whispering, Rather Than Shouting, in the Crowded Sneaker Sector
Young Amsterdam-based footwear brand Filling Pieces was founded by architecture graduate Guillame Philbert, who saw a gap in the market for high-quality, reasonably priced sneakers that served as ‘filling pieces’ in the gap between streetwear and luxury fashion. As well as its main lines, Filling Pieces offers more subversive, forward-thinking styles in its Inner Circle collection, which is produced in a limited run, thus elevating hype surrounding its highly anticipated drops. Philbert has told High Snobiety that Filling Pieces doesn’t feel the need to fit into the norm, preferring to just go with the flow and caring more for about the brand’s story than the volume of product it produces. “There is no masterplan behind Inner Circle, it is just a passion tier where we drop product whenever we feel like it and in very limited runs,” he says. He also adds that his shoes’ minimal branding helps to build community, as its clandestine status makes it something of a “speakeasy, where you have to know the password to enter. I hope Inner Circle will be something special for people to bond over.”
The brand also boasts previous partnerships with respectable names like Puma and Barneys New York. This clever combination of offerings – all priced decently in comparison to sneakers from high fashion brands, yet arguably with the same attention to detail and luxury fabrics – gives Filling Pieces an edge, as it offers a premium product without becoming too alienating to the average consumer.
Filippa K: Revolutionising Retail Through Sustainability-Focused Concepts
In its own words, Scandinavian fashion brand Filippa K “stands for long lasting simplicity,” and the retailer has promoted these values through launching three key sustainability concepts, with the aim that they will help consumers change the way they think about clothes shopping.
The first concept, Collect, invites customers to return old Filippa K garments that are no longer used. Upon returning their unwanted clothes, the customer receives a 15% discount voucher, to be redeemed against their next purchase, and said clothes are then sold either in Filippa K’s own second-hand store, or donated to one of various humanitarian organisations that the brand partners with. The second concept, Lease, enables people to “temporarily own additional pieces instead of stacking up for the sake of it.” Inspired by the growing trend for clothing rentals, Filippa K pieces are available to rent for 4 days at 20% of their RRP. The final concept, Front Runners, is a small collection comprising pieces made as sustainably as possible, aligning with the company’s goals to make all of their collections sustainable by 2030. Filippa K’s creative director, Nina Bodstedt, sees sustainability as a guide to growth. “A classic never goes out of style: they are long lasting and can pass through generations if you care for them well enough,” she says, stressing that the company’s sustainability plan sets “an ambitious target, but an important one.”
Alex Weller, Marketing Director Europe at Patagonia, Elin Larsson, Sustainability Director at Fillipa K and Guillaume Philibert, Creative Director & Founder of Filling Pieces join us to discuss 'Value vs. Volume' at our London Fashion Summit, May 16-17th. Book your ticket here.
Image Source: Futerra