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Comment: Ask the difficult questions to evolve

Christina Simone

Things may get worse before they get better, but the result will be a better product

Developing a strategy to make things more efficient, to roll with the changing times, to make room for the unexpected – as you know if you’ve had to do it in any form – may look clear and simple on paper. But it takes an inordinate amount of research and planning, followed by a similar amount of trial and error, to get it exactly right (or to realise it’s very wrong). Either way, shaking up a thing that has been working one way for a while is a necessity and a key part of the forward-thinking process.

As a kid in New Jersey, I ran around wearing fluorescent pink T-shirts, flower-printed culottes and my favourite bright white canvas sneakers with their little blue label, so I’m happy to see the Keds brand return to popularity. When Taylor Swift Instagrams them, you know they’re here to stay.

To celebrate its centenary this year, Keds president and fellow American, shoe marketeer Chris Lindner, has taken the iconic brand to another level (Read about it in The Drapers Interview). His “Ladies first since 1916” slogan is focused on empowering young women. Indeed, as a tagline on one of the advertisements says: “There is no such thing as an average girl.”

Now, an expat in London, in a city with a newly appointed mayor – will Sadiq Khan take the Tube or bike through the streets as Boris Johnson did? – and a buzz surrounding the topic of the UK leaving the European Union, I have arrived in exciting times. Looming over the country, the idea that the UK may or may not get more from Brexit is a tough question to answer, especially for the future of retail, trade and international relationships.

Our Drapers poll showed that 59% were against a break-up. But, really, is anyone ever better off alone? What a Brexit will do, we know, is force retailers to change these strategies.

Speaking of which, the combination of luxury fashion week shows and questions surrounding spending has rattled the foundation, and cast doubt on the future of the luxury market. The re-fashioning of luxury means re-evaluation of the industry, and operations are at the core of that. Will providing merchandise to customers immediately after a show garner an uplift in sales? Will a Chanel cruise catwalk in Cuba be the beginning of a new world market for fashion? And, someone please tell me, who is going to replace Raf Simons at Dior?

It’s an interesting time in the fashion retail industry: the day-to-day back-end is more important than ever. Figuring out how to rise above the competition by regularly reassessing what is and isn’t working in your company, at your brand or in your country is essential for success.

What my background in ops has taught me is that, more often than not, things get worse before they get better. It takes a while to get on track when new processes are put into place. But then, a certainty: the improved final product will be more valuable than before.

Keely Stocker is on holiday



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