Entrepreneur, Explorer, Angel.
Sometimes all at Once.
23TH June 2017
Creative problem Solving - Entrepreneur - Timely - Uncategorized
Founder Profiles- Lilly B.- Fashion Snoops
As an angel/operator (new nomenclature, old practice) I (happily) spend a LOT of my time mentoring CEO’s in the Vaux portfolio; it is truly one of the most rewarding parts of my work. I often say the talent is in there, somewhere, and it’s just my job to ask questions that bring it to the surface. With Lilly Berelovich, the talent doesn’t hide much.
I sat down with her recently to talk about the mega-trend in our industry, a/k/a “the retail apocalypse”. Because even as creative destruction wreaks havoc, it builds new leaders. Fashion Snoops is emerging as one of them. Here’s a great video of Lilly to explain all that, and here are my five questions for Lilly:
Question #1: Is the educated consumer is now the scary-educated consumer?
Miles: I used to talk about Sy Syms saying “the educated consumer is our best customer”. Has that become scary?
Lilly: It was true at the time. People were paying less for the same brand, back in the day. Now, the educated consumer is the bane of the retailer’s existence. Today’s consumer is not just in the know on price, they’re not just in the know on the little things… they know of all things. They see everything in real time. Whether it’s a runway that just happened somewhere around the world, the same minute they’re seeing what’s on the runway, if it’s an event that happened anywhere around the world, they’re seeing, you know it’s become an open field to the information coming at them. So not only do they know what they want, they know everything that’s available. So, there’s no element of surprise for the retailer, they can suddenly be launching the perfect vest.
For example, a runway that just happened somewhere around the world, in the same minute scary-educated consumers immediately see what was on the runway. So not only do they know what they want, they know everything that’s available. Therefore, there’s no element of surprise for the retailer.
Miles: So the old school, brand is driven by an oracle, creative at the top is saying this is what comes next, this is what’s new, this is the color, this is the fabric, this is what we’re doing guys and we’re cool, we’re hip if you want to join us, come with us… that’s all toast?
Lilly: It worked well, for a long time. But now there’s no reveal, there’s no moment of surprise, there is no…” oh wow I can’t wait to see the patterns so I can see what’s in the stores”… or, “wow I can’t wait for Chanel to launch their new collection, so they can surprise me and blow me away with the latest fabric or color they’re gonna chose”. It’s all happening in real time, so you lose that element of the surprise.
Question #2: Are Bricks and mortar and stacked inventory a mis-match for the pace of information today?
Miles: So, point number two was about the oracles and perhaps how the system was good to them for a long period of time. But it got to the point where bricks and mortar and malls and retail were misconfigured for the pace at which information travels. How did it break down?
Lilly: You had the necessity try to drive demand with as much cache and PR as possible. So that it became actually really aspirational. That aspiration was for “I want to look like that”, but also, ” I want to be perceived as being in the know”. “I want to be perceived as being next, I want to be perceived as being, I found a hip, new thing because I found it”.
I think that the hardship right now is that retail is still operating under that illusion and they have the structures and mental workloads in place that are still aligned with an old way of thinking. So they are still creating mostly in a bubble, two years out for a product that they hope consumers will want two years from today. And they have timelines of production and on floor placement that is completely delusional of the reality of the consumer. So they’ll ship bathing suits in January because that’s how they used to do it, but the consumer is not interested. They are planning projections and bets so far ahead and many of them are just stuck in the mode of this is how it’s been done forever and this is how we’re gonna do it. Meantime, the consumer is buying what they want, when they want it. They can have access to whatever they want online or anywhere in the world with a click and have it delivered to their house. So this whole idea of how people used to buy still stuck in their DNA of a lot of big retailers.
Miles: That’s almost the way Wall Street used to function with the exchanges. I mean people would literally go down and trade stocks in person, on a piece of paper, submit that paper to the exchange and eventually would come out as a trade. And the answer was…we had always done things this way. And when technology started to take over, whether it was NASDAQ, whether it was Bloomberg screens and the research that got behind it… the reality is there were 50,000 people that were perceived to be very, very, very smart, and now 90 percent of those jobs are gone.
Lilly: Well, the same thing is about to happen here! It’s already happening, as a matter of fact. Anyone that uses the term, ‘this is how we do things’ or used to do things, needs to question that statement. Whether it’s a retailer or a manufacturer or anyone that’s pushing their products. The way you used to do things is over. Like literally from concepting to manufacturing to the flow of retail to what it actually means to put on the floor. All of it is different and the only thing you can make right now is all of it is different, and giving at every possible touch point and say that, that actually still works. Does that relationship still work? Does that, the way we work with this buyer or this manufacturer, or this design flow, does that still work, because many of those way don’t work anymore.
Question #3 Will the Old Creatives yield to the New Creatives, and when?
Miles: Retailers and malls are swooning or collapsing. The names are a litany of despair: Gap, J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, LuluLemon, Abercrombie, you name it. So let’s talk about the future of retail Lilly…
Lilly: I think it’s a new version of retail that is an open gate to opportunities that become more connected to shoppable opportunities then they are in a physical space, let’s just clarify that. So the retail space is no longer the touch point or the only touch point we have for buying products, clearly. The online space is gaining some ground but it’s not just the online space that is the open gate to where people will buy products. So in essence, everything is shoppable, everything should and could be shoppable.
Question#4: So is the “USP” that “New Creatives” will make it a “Shoppable” Life?
Miles:Shoppable life? How do you spell that?
Lilly: Any experience should be shoppable. Any engagement can be shoppable. Any visit can be shoppable, anywhere you go could be an opportunity to buy something. You no longer need to enter a big department store and look for that item you may need or want, you are exposed to things you can buy you know if you’re going to an amazing hotel somewhere and you love the napkins they have or the bed sheets they had … You know the food experience or the wine they serve. And that could follow you home or arrive at your office the next day. I think the relationship to acquiring products and buying and wanting things has taken a whole new realm of reality, possibility, totally controlled by convenience. There’s nobody that, not many of us want to go through hours of seven store department, department store where I need to find what I need, I could sit on my couch and get every brand I want on my phone and make those purchases very quickly, so I think as scary as it is, there are huge amounts of opportunity, if we consider clever touchpoints that turn to shoppable moment. And I think that Amazon is doing an amazing job with that.
Miles: How does the fashion and consumer industry view Amazon?
Lilly: Maybe people want to hate them because they are the new, sort of “digital shark” out there that’s feeding off a lot of stuff. There are more traditional opportunities, but they’re smart and they are thinking this new route, and they are considering online/offline in a very clever way to their new (physical) bookstore that opened, and of course Whole Foods. So some activity comes from online ideas and they’re treating every new piece that they put in your house as a shoppable door. They’re leading consumers where they already live as opposed to hoping that one day you’re gong to pass by this store that’s been there for 50 years and walk in there and buy something.
Question#5: Can automation enhance, not stifle, Creativity?
Miles 1: Does automation stifle creativity?
Lilly: (Speaking like a true creative) No way, it lets us run with power like never before. It allows us to not be bogged down by these old ways of working where I have an amazing idea but it’s gonna take me two and a half days to put it on paper and then I’m going to show it to somebody and they’re not going to approve and I scrap that and start over. The final destination of where we think the product needs to be especially in the early moments where you’re concepting is key. You have to move the idea forward much quicker and get to the final destination with so many other people in the mix that technology has to be wired into that. Otherwise, you are manually wasting so much time and resources to get to that final destination, it’s much more accessible if you’re using technology.
Miles: So… Half of the designs are wrong, you just don’t know which half until you have the platform to handle it.
Lilly: Exactly, otherwise you have to show them all and put them all through the pipeline. That a huge waste, and it’s near over.
Final Point: Today Lilly and Fashion Snoops introduced FS White Space, the first true collaborative platform wired for creators to streamline the creative process and harness future trends quickly and powerfully.
~~Wow, you made it all the way down here! ~~~
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