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20 Fashion books you can download for free from the Metropolitan museum of Art website

blog2Fashion enthusiasts or folks involved in the business of fashion are always on a look out for literary gems related to this magnificent industry. Understanding the history of fashion or reading about the lives of renowned figures in the fashion industry can sometimes give clues to current trends. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a variety of books on fashion, the best part is they are free to download. The subjects vary from memoirs to documentaries, from design inspirations to history.

  • Madame Grès by Richard Martin and Harold Koda:  This book celebrates a designer with exceptional vision who gave the fashion world, drapé or draped dress. Grès invented one model that she practiced, polished, perfected, and purified.
  • The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789–1815: The topics covered in the book include Costume, jewels and uniforms of the Napoleon empire, Napoleons wardrobe, American and French fashion during Napoleon’s reign.
  • Haute Couture by Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1995): An illustrated volume about everything you want to know about Haute Couture  (fashion driven by the artistic expression of the designer rather than the dictates of clients) from its inception to the works of present day industry legends.

Happy reading !!

Instagram recently introduced ‘Instagram Stories’, which is strikingly similar to ‘Snapchat Stories’

Instagram storiesInstagram introduced a brand new feature named ‘Instagram Stories’ recently, which lets people share photos and videos with a life span of a maximum of 24 hours with friends who follow them. It is strikingly similar to Snapchat, which is always been an underdog social media network. Young audiences connect with Snapchat on a level that can surely attract rivalry from other social media networks, like Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram’s cofounder Kevin Systrom did give indirect credit to Snapchat in regards to Instagram Stories, “Competitors and other companies deserve all the credit for popularizing disappearing photos and videos. It has been an area of interest for Instagram for some time. Our mission has always been to capture and share the world’s moments, not just the world’s most beautiful moments. Stories will alleviate a ton of the pressure people have to post their absolute best stuff.”

 

HOW TO MANAGE INVENTORY FOR ONLINE FASHION BRANDS

 

inventoryInventory management is crucial, clothes can go out of season, out of style, trends can become irrelevant. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with dead stock. Thus if you have the right inventory management system in place, you wouldn’t over hoard on a style that is selling slowly. The more products you store the more storage space required. Warehouse costs are variable, thus if you keep the inventory organised, you can save up on space and money. Inventory management is also critical for cash flow management. Assume a scenario, where you know exactly how much inventory you have left, it helps you order new products accordingly, you will never lose out on sales.

Ways to manage inventory:

Setting minimum and maximum par values of Inventory is one such way to keep a check. Par levels are the minimum amount of products that you must keep on hand at all times. You will be notified as soon your products go below the minimum values. This might take some pre planning, decision making and prior research, but if you do invest time into this your ecommerce store will run like a well oiled machine.

First in first out is a golden rule when it comes to inventory management. You may assume this holds true only for perishable items, however even items like clothing could follow this system. Nobody wants to buy a worn-out , obsolete out of style clothing. Try to add new products through the back of the warehouse, so that the older ones get sold before.

Like any other business it is important to have good relationships in your online fashion business. Say you need to return a slow selling skirt, restock a bestselling pair of jeans, resolve manufacturing issues, or need extra storage space for a festive season sale. If you have a good relationship with your vendors,suppliers, manufacturers and warehouse owners, resolving issues like the above would be a cake walk.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Assume a scenario where the sales of a pair of pants rises suddenly and you are under-stocked, a cash-flow issue poses as an issue to buy a latest style of skirts, the storage space is not enough to accommodate for the festive discount sale you had planned, an intern miscalculated your inventory and you have less stock of a particular style of shirts, your warehouse is full of stock that sells slowly, your manufacturer didn’t deliver on time or discontinued a particular product without prior notice. These are just some of the many things that you face in an ecommerce business, thus plan ahead and plan well.

Forecasting inventory needs accurately relative to demand is something that comes with experience. Try to factor the following aspects to do it flawless. Study the trends in the market, compare the sales of the current year with the same time last year, evaluate growth and sales based on agreements and subscriptions, keep in mind the overall state of the economy, promotions and advertising budget constraints.

HOW TO USE DIFFERENT TYPES OF INFLUENCER OUTREACH FOR YOUR FASHION BRAND

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Growing an ecommerce company can be challenging, but with the right online connections you can make real progress in the direction of growth. It is where blogger outreach comes into play. Believe it or not it can do wonders for gaining new traffic and customers, at a fraction of the price of traditional forms of advertising.

Guest post on renowned websites : The slow and steady way to get traffic to your ecommerce site is blogging. But if you are looking for a quick fix then may be you should consider guest posting. Guest posting on a more renowned website will put your company and products in front of new eyes. Guest posting may require you to pursue the owner of the site, there may be some unsuccessful attempts. but if you can get an affirmation, it gives you new traffic and the back links from the website will benefit your SEO efforts too.

Interview a relevant expert: If you are not a wordsmith or don’t have enough technical knowledge about the topics of ecommerce or retail, you could try interviewing an expert in the field. You could ask them to give tips, technical advise or share their stories. You can publish these on your website and hopefully the expert would share the article with his/her audience too.

Solicited but honest product reviews or sponsored posts: You can also contact Fashion bloggers to review your products in exchange for free products and a small flat fee. Most online purchases nowadays are made after doing some prior research about the product. The social proof that the product is used and liked by others can give a boost to your product sales.

Affiliate Marketing: You can also start an affiliate program. This involves finding influencers with an engaged audience that can drive traffic to your business by offering a commission on every sale.

Gift guides: Most online shoppers research gift ideas especially during festive times or special events like birthdays or valentines days. If you include your products in these gift guides and customers come across your products in their searches, there is a high chance of your product sales skyrocketing especially during those times.

Try these hacks for your blogger outreach you might be pleasantly surprised with the results you get.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND FASHION’S ‘COOL’; ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MARKETING TOOL

free-stock-photo-fashionHave you ever wondered why all of a sudden, you see flared denims on runways and retail stores? They are the new ‘cool’. Just like skinny jeans have been ‘cool’ for the past few years. This going back and forth of fashion trends is not a coincidence. Believe it or not there is a very important neuroscience involved in this process. A smart fashion brand will always be updated with the ‘cool’ trend of the season as it is an important marketing tool. It is the science behind ‘cool’ that explains why a customer pays an extravagant $1000 for a Vetement sweatshirt, or a whopping $2500 for an apple macbook.

So what is ‘cool’. It is an attitude, a term of approval, a target that is always changing and shifting. Steven Quartz and Anette Asp, neuroscience researchers at the California Institute of Technology explain that there is a part of the human brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). MPFC is responsible for our reactions to social emotions such as pride and embarrassment. It is how we perceive ourselves and believe how people around us perceive us. “Cool turns out to be a strange kind of economic value that our brains see in products that enhance our social image, this abstract good—social approval, reputation, esteem, or status—plays a central role in our motivation and behavior, and it is the currency that drives much of our economy and our consumption.” they explain, through their research.

To trace ‘cool’ back in history, you have to throwback to 1873, when denim overalls were born. The design by Levi Strauss & Co was aimed towards a target audience of miners and cowboys. They slowly gained popularity as casual clothing in 1953, when they were worn by Marlon Brando in the movie ‘The Wild One’. It was the birth of the modern blue jeans. Emma McClendon, a curator at the museum at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology writes about it in her book Denim: Fashion’s Frontier, “The denim-clad rebel generated cultural excitement that bordered on hysteria”.  ‘Cool’ became something you can buy.

Instagram has made it easy to follow the latest trends and track down the ‘cool’. Fashion bloggers who sometimes have more fan following than movie stars, are an easy source for teenagers and youngsters to turn to for tips on what is ‘cool’ and what is not. Although if what is cool becomes too common, it is time for a change in the trend. As the whole idea of cool is to be rebellious and not conform to the rules of society and fashion.

 

 

NOBODY IS NOTICING THE UNEXPLORED IN-BETWEEN SIZE MARKET

plusSize matters!! Atleast it does when it comes to fashion. There seems to be a very clear division of sizes in women’s clothing. There is the straight (standard) size which is 0 to 12 and there is the plus size clothing which is 16 and above. This very biased sizing system forgets to account for sizes that fall in between, say a size 14. The bias, however brings to attention a huge market gap, that any smart fashion brand must take into notice.

Bianca Vaccarini who is a fashion blogger, is one such woman who falls in the in between size range.  She says that the fashion brands that contact her for influencer marketing campaigns are usually the ones that offer plus size clothing, even though she is technically not a plus size blogger. Franziska Hasselhof, a medical student/blogger is tired of receiving comments like “Oh, I’m so happy to find a girl who’s not stick skinny who can still look good,”, she considers these as back handed compliments where someone is saying ‘you look nice in those clothes,despite being heavy, instead of simply saying you look nice.’ Amy Schumer’s views on the topic are similar too, when she reacted to Glamour magazine’s plus size issue, featuring her along with plus size models. “Plus size is considered size 16 in America, I go between a size 6 and an 8. Glamour magazine put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool.”

The few brands that have taken the initiative of making clothing in a range of sizes are Modcloth, JCPenney and online store Universal Standard.  Mod cloth co-founder Susan Gregg Koger speaks rather proudly, when she explains her brand policy about standard or plus sizes. “For me, the ‘aha’ moment was being in our pop-up in San Francisco and seeing someone come in who was new to the brand and asking if there was anything available in plus sizes, and being able to tell them, ‘Oh, the entire store is available in a full range of sizes,” she explained. We believe the ‘In between’ sizes are a very ripe market opportunity. What we are surprised to see is why most retailers aren’t taking it seriously.

 

INSTAGRAM TOOLS EVERY FASHION BRAND MUST KNOW ABOUT

bando_instagram_2Instagram means serious business!! As a fashion brand you are well aware of this fact. Yet in our experience there are many fashion brands whose Instagram accounts lack the wow factor, their accounts look like the hundred other brands in that niche. The solution however is simple, just like a piece of clothing needs accessories to make it more attractive, your Instagram account needs certain tools to add that extra enhancement and make it stand out from the thousands of other brands out there.

Lets start with Scheduling: 

Schedugram (starting at $20 per month): A scheduling platform with web browser-based scheduling and a built in photo editing tool. This tool can save you lots of time and as a startup or an older fashion brand you will love that it allows you to schedule posts in mass batches.

Later (starting at $19 per month): Later is similar to Schedugram, except it is a mobile, tablet and web browser based scheduling platform.Additionally it lets you explore hashtags, view and plan a content calendar and share user generated content.

Hootsuite (Free): Hootsuite is one of the most used tool and is one of the most easiest to use too. It can help you schedule your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and G+ posts all in one place.

Lets explore tools for Analytics:

Sprout Social: Sprout Social provides detailed Instagram analytics and reports to measure how your posts are performing, monitor relevant hashtags and engagement opportunities.

Iconosquare ($28.80-$499): Although in the pricier range this tool is extremely useful in letting you measure engagement data (followers and likes) and also get specific statistics about your followers like their location and level of social media influence. In the age of influencer marketing this tool comes very handy.

Websta (Free): Websta will give you the most extensive list of hashtags being used on Instagram. You can pick and choose the best performing hashtags related to Fashion, retail and E commerce.

Tools to make your Instagram feed shoppable:

Foursixty ($50-$100): Foursixty allows you to make all your Instagram photos fully shoppable. There will be product page links attached to every product featured on your Instagram feed with links.

Showcase (Free): Showcase allows your customers to make informed purchase decisions by letting you embed a customizable Instagram feed onto your online store.

Tools to make your Instagram images more attractive:

VSCO (Free): VSCO which is available on iOS and Android is a photo editing platform and part social media network, that gives you tons of filters to enhance your Instagram feed.

Afterlight ($0.99 – $1.39): Afterlight is an easy to use photo editing app that has a massive collection of 74 filters, 78 textures, and 128 frames.

Image Source: Ban.do

HOW GENTLE MONSTER ROSE TO FAME ALONGSIDE K-POP CULTURE

Gentle-Monster
Every once in a while, a music or movie trend comes along and takes over the fashion world. Case in point is the South Korean eye-wear brand Gentle Monster, which owes most of its success to K-Pop(Korean Pop). Gentle Monster is the brainchild of Hankook Kim, the founder and chief executive officer. The brand’s journey started like most famous fashion brands, with an aspiration to do something unique, not be a me too brand.

Kim recognized that the Asian eye-wear market is totally different from its western counterpart. “Here, having a small face is the biggest compliment, there were no competitors for oversize glasses, which make heads look smaller.” Kim says. Nobody was catering to this need of eye-wear for the Asian facial structure, as most brands were mimicking the designs of western designers suited for westerner’s facial structures.

The designs of the glasses is thick frames etched in gold and cat-eye styles with titanium rims. There is a sense of strangeness in the design that probably appeals to the customers, who pay anything between $200 to $500 for a pair. The stores are also designed in a way that appears as an art exhibition, not a retail store outlet. The design of the stores is changed every 25 days, the latest being “Daydream Oasis,” which was a pool constructed out of egg-crate material, accompanied with silver fabric, alongside waves simulated by a wind machine.

Gentle Monster’s rose as fiercely as “Gagnam Style.” Jun Ji-hyun, popular Korean actress wearing Gentle Monster lenses, on the widely watched Korean TV series “My Love From the Star,” was just a cherry on top. Gentle Monster is now sold in more than 450 stores including Harvey Nichols and Nordstrom. It generates roughly $160 million in revenue, and has plans to expand its international presence by opening 10 more stores additionaly to its current New york store

INFLUENCER MARKETING ON INSTAGRAM, A GUIDE ON HOW TO DO IT RIGHT FOR FASHION BRANDS

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Fashion is an extremely visual medium and Instagram captures the essence of fashion like no other social media platform. It is important to keep up with Instagram and its ever changing trends. For example recently the Instagram algorithm has been changed (Posts were visible chronologically, according to the new algorithm they will appear based on engagement). What this means for fashion brands, is that paid advertising and influencer marketing will play a very important role in the posts that users see on their screens. Thus, as a fashion brand you must invest time and resources into Influencer marketing on Instagram now more than ever.

So what is Influencer marketing and who are Influencers? It’s a way of putting forth a brand’s message in front of an interested audience through a voice they trust. It is basically word of mouth marketing where a recommendation about a piece of clothing or accessory is made by someone who has blogged, vlogged and photographed their way to fame. These recommendations are trusted on more than any other form of traditional advertising as the influencer has a very engaged and loyal community of followers and fans.

A few ways for fashion brands to master Influencer marketing on Instagram

Research extensively: Have a 360 degrees research strategy. Which means you must research brands that have a similar market niche as you, research your direct competitors as well as your customers. By research we mean spend some time and observe the content that they post, the kind of content that works and gets the most engagement.  You could also spend some time on studying posts that are related to your brand story. For example if you are sports brand, you can take inspiration from and follow Instagram accounts of adventurous fashion bloggers or fitness bloggers. The Instagram for business blog is a goldmine for latest tools and updates on Instagram. It also has case studies of brands that are at the top of their game.

Be clear but allow Influencers room for creative freedom: You must try to make the Influencer’s job as easy as possible by giving them a clear understanding of your brand, the objective of the campaign etc. A good way could be having a blogger’s kit which explains in a detailed manner the nitty gritty of what is expected from them. You can also use mood boards for the same. Word of caution however, is that don’t try to suffocate the vision and creativity of the influencers that you are working with. Trust and allow them to create the posts, as they understand what resonates with their followers.

Select the right Influencers: This might be the trickiest part, the influencers you choose to work with should be relevant to your brand. The easiest way to search for them can be through hashtags on Instagram. You could also run an advanced google search and search influencers based on their locations or other brand specific specifications.

Set the structure for running the campaign smoothly: Set a road-map of how you want the influencer marketing campaign to go about and convey the same to the influencers, in advance. They should have a clear understanding of the exact content that they are expected to deliver, the time frame for delivery, the payment terms and ownership rights of the posts that they create.

Influencer and User generated content is an underused treasure: Don’t forget to use the post created by the influncers across your website and other social media sites. You can use user generated content on the sales pages of your eCommerce website or with Facebook Ads. The candid posts created by your customers act as a social proof that your fashion brand is loved by its customers.

Image Source: Outreachify.com

5 Tips for Building Your Fashion Ecommerce Store

ecommerce
This entry was written as a Guest post. The author’s views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of ILFR.

Launching a new online store is an exciting adventure, but it can also be hard to make the first step. What do you need to know to get going? Are there certain resources you should have lined up? How can you get to the top of Google results in the least time possible? There are a number of opportunities ahead of you, but there are also plenty of questions to be asked first. Here are some tips to keep in mind when getting your retail store up and going:

  1. Figure out who your market is: Are you selling styles you’re passionate about, or looking to make the most return on your ecommerce investment? Either way, it’s important to do plenty of market research before stocking your store. Examine hard numbers and see what people are consuming, but also get creative with mood boards and more abstract brainstorming.
    It’s also important to have cohesion to your brand, so pick a path you think customers will like, and stick to it. You may be passionate about retro style, but if you’ve decided to sell businesswear you should probably forego creating a shop section of cute polka dot dresses. (But if you’re that passionate about it, maybe you should rethink your business direction!)
  2. Get organized: Keep a detailed calendar, and stick to it. Time management doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, but that’s no excuse; if you’re missing meetings and deadlines, your business is going to fail before you’ve even launched. Additionally, create a seamless method of organizing stock, to help avoid order mishaps. Assign each item a number, and create a bin for each number. Create a detailed Excel doc to log your items, or invest in inventory management software that will do the job for you.
  3. Get good photos: Taking good photos means you have to make a bit of an investment, but it will pay off quickly. People are much more likely to buy a product that was professionally (or even semi-professionally!) shot over one that comes from your smartphone. Take a class, buy some mid-level equipment or hire someone to take shots for you. Additionally, find folks to model the clothes you’re selling! People are more likely to buy a product if they can see how it looks when being worn.
  4. Stay on top of social networking: These days, building your brand isn’t just about having eye-catching items: it’s just as much about how you present them to the world. Social networking is a mandatory (and perhaps the most important) part of promoting your brand. Join Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and whatever new and even kooky new platform people are using these days. Remember those lovely photos you took in step three? Those will come in handy here! Even if you aren’t a social media maven in your personal life, it’s important to keep your business feeds looking fresh, intriguing and aesthetically pleasing.
  5. Learn some tech basics: SEO. PPC. GA. These may sound like alien terms if you’ve never done online marketing before, but they’re crucial elements to get your site ranking on Google. Get a Google Analytics account set up, and devour all the info you can about keyword tracking, ranking and link building. This is another spot where investing a little money can go a long way: take a class on online marketing basics, or hire a freelancer to help with your site. High Google rankings require a strong digital foundation, and you want to start building yours ASAP.

 

While there are plenty of other factors that go into building your store, these are a few that can really help you edge out the competition. In fact, the team at Material.com has crafted an entire ebook about to help you do just that; it’s called Fashioning Your Retail Empire Online, and it’s a step-by-step guide to creating your dream business. With some effort, investment and learning, you can be running a fashion retail powerhouse in no time


Andrea's

Author bio: Andrea Kinnison is the Content Strategist at Material.