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Op-ed: The fashion businesses we all know are the ones most likely to fail

Independent Fashion Advisory Board identifies issues facing legacy brands

According to the Independent Fashion Advisory Board (IFAB), Australia’s longstanding medium to large fashion brands are most in danger of closing their doors.

IFAB founding member, Saskia Fairfull says:

“It may seem counterintuitive but these legacy fashion businesses are most vulnerable now as they attempt to shoehorn what they’ve always done into a fashion retail reality – a business reality – that is forever altered. Look at Herringbone, Rhodes & Beckett, Marcs, David Lawrence, and most recently, Kit & Ace. New brands are building for the new landscape, smaller existing brands are agile enough to adapt and change, it’s the medium to large fashion businesses - the ones we all know - that are struggling.”

IFAB is a group of local and international experts focused on the business of fashion. IFAB works with fashion businesses to minimise risk and reshape company direction alongside the existing board or executive leadership team. IFAB’s areas of expertise include transformation strategy and implementation; branding and marketing; business process improvement; digital adoption; in-store experience and design; customer mapping; traffic flow; and data analysis.

Fairfull is candid about the challenges she and the Independent Fashion Advisory Board are observing: “Large fashion businesses have their own corporate boards. Who, primarily, sits on these boards? Men in their fifties, who have comparatively little insight into the target audience – women – or the rate of change in the digital landscape. It’s irresponsible to tiptoe around this because when these businesses decline - or fold - hundreds of people lose their jobs.”

IFAB, based in Australia and set to open in the US and the UK, observes the same happening in the United States with nine retail bankruptcies so far this year and legacy brands such as J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears all announcing more than 100 store closures. “It’s being described as a ‘retail apocalypse’, a ‘retail meltdown’,” Fairfull says. “Australian brands need to act.”

Members of the Independent Fashion Advisory Board – Saskia Fairfull will be at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia at Carriageworks in Sydney, on Friday 19th May 2017.

Saskia Fairfull