Lisa Jane Mann
An investigation of the experiences of emerging fashion designers in the UK fashion system; how can innovative retail business models support them in navigating a route to market
My research topic is born out of an interest in emerging fashion designers in the UK and how and why they select a chosen route to market. With a background in fashion entrepreneurship, and as the founder of Re:So (Retail Solent), a unique retail model that supports student/graduate designers, I was awarded the HE National Enterprise Educators Award (2015).
Context and background
Designers currently face a number of big challenges when starting out, having to navigate their way through the fashion system, deal with high catwalk show costs, and all in a constantly changing marketplace, with an overwhelming array of platforms through which to reach consumers.
Many designers follow the traditional route of showing or exhibiting at London Fashion Week (Marriott, 2014), however, researchers and industry commentators (Malem, 2008; Lewy, 2012; fashionista.com, 2013 and Womenswear Daily, 2015), point out that the challenges and costs involved mean there is a growing need to consider alternative routes to market. My contribution to new knowledge will be to question whether institutionalism in the fashion system influences the way in which emerging fashion designers launch; and to examine and understand the experiences of those that have chosen a different approach to the traditional catwalk/LFW route by using innovative retail business models.
I am particularly interested in the experiences of emerging designers and startup fashion businesses, and the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of their approach to starting their business and reaching their chosen market. This research will initially be informed by a number of relevant theoretical areas, including Institutionalisation, Innovative Retail Models and Business Model Innovation. I hope to unpack the nature of change within the current fashion system, and how it affects the decisions made by emerging fashion designers and ultimately how it affects the way they start and proceed to run their businesses.