This Fashion Thinking framework will unleash all kinds of ways to anticipate the new and remix the old.
If your goal is to be an organization that can fluidly and flexibly adapt to complex environments, then consider incorporating elements of Fashion Thinking. This is increasingly important as customers expect companies to incorporate digital technology that makes the shift from providing physically fixed products to just-in-time products and services. Here are 5 elements of Fashion Thinking.
- Span Time–Fashion has a temporal dimension. If it is too far in the past, it’s costume; too far into the future and people don’t get it. It works very hard to capture that ever-changing, in flux present moment. The ability to be aware of that temporal range helps fashion firms to anticipate needs and do productive risk taking. How might your firm look to the past while incorporating social trends to innovate?
- Build Bridges–Fashion also has a spatial dimension. It straddles cultural boundaries and taps into both “the street and the elite” for inspiration. Be curious about other cultures, geographies and inclinations. By opening themselves up to those that are afar and different from them, fashion designers help bridge gaps between a range of people and traditions and ultimately point out our interconnectedness. Remember that whatever your sector, your product/service is solving not only a functional job, but also a social and an emotional one. This is a reality to which fashion designers are well attuned.
- Re-Mix and Embrace Collage–Fashion designers are creatively resourceful “bricoleurs”: they relish in the ability to make something new out of nothing. Have you accepted yet that nothing is truly new, and that the new model for work is the collage and the re-mix? Invest in trend research and explore with whom you can unexpectedly partner to put a new spin on, say, your non-profit venture.
- Harness Technology and Human Sensibility- Urgent & timely responses to people’s desires is essential in fashion. Fashion firms do this in two ways: the old fashioned way by having people on the ground, in the streets and nightclubs, tapping into sub-culture; and the new ways by using technology, fancy algorithms and iBeacons to track shopping behaviors. Fashion retail is one of the most fascinating hubs of experience design today. Suspend judgment and take a field trip into an Abercrombie & Fitch store, and just observe the layers of sensorial design, technology and human interaction at work.
- Open Source & Co-Create–Fashion is excellent at being the disruptor in disruptive innovation and is the original open source innovator. Given the layered psychodemographic market demands and the complex apparel supply chain, this open- and crowd-source orientation is a necessity. Johanna Blakley discussed in her TED talk how fashion’s knock off culture has actually been a source of innovation and sales growth- especially when compared to laggard industries such as publishing and music where disruptive innovation has hit like a tsunami. Social media is your friend to be attuned to what your customers actually care about and it gives you a platform to co-create.
By adopting Fashion Thinking you will become an expert in pattern recognition and your business will be a tastemaker. Integrate aesthetics and function, agile supply chains and anticipate customer needs through technology. These realities are the balancing act that makes Fashion Thinking an essential lens.