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Why Inclusivity and Diversity is a Business Imperative for Fashion, Retail and Beauty Brands

INCLUSIVITY AND DIVERSITY IN FASHION IS NECESSARY FOR COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS

Imagine this. You’re a 42-year-old retail conglomerate with over 1,000 stores worldwide, billion dollars of profit per year, with the most successful models in the industry queuing to work for you and quoting you as their career highlight. You’re established and well-known so you could get away with a few missteps here and there. But it’s 2020 and you only get so many times when you don’t listen to what your customers are saying. Ignore them once - you could be forgiven, ignore them twice - you might lose some. But choosing to not represent your customer base in your communication, product and internal operations will be the death of you. 

This is a real story. The story of lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret which, for years chose to keep selling products by pushing its unrealistic beauty standards and ignoring customer feedback. The result? It’s annual televised fashion show was cancelled amid declining ratings, declining sales and dropping shares (more than 75% since 2015). Most notably, news broke that longtime CEO Leslie Wexner is stepping down as Sycamore Partners acquired a majority stake in the challenged brand. Lack of inclusive thinking and listening to customers of all ages and sizes saw the rise and sharp fall of one of the biggest lingerie brands in history. 

Models at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (Source: businessinsider.com)

Instead, people are voting with their wallets, flocking to brands that truly “get” them. Take Rihanna’s Fenty and Savage brands. The singer and entrepreneur launched her beauty line, Fenty Beauty, in 2017 with inclusivity and diversity in mind. The number of shades - 40 tones - was unprecedented at the time and much larger than that of your average beauty brand. And boy, did that pay off. Fenty Beauty racked up a reported $100 million in sales in its first few weeks, and an estimated $570 million in revenue after only 15 months in business.

Following the disruption she caused in the beauty category, Rihanna took the lingerie industry by storm with the launch of Savage x Fenty - focusing on diversity and inclusivity - which reportedly brings an annual revenue of $150 million. And just as Victoria’s Secret cancelled its show, the second annual Savage x Fenty catwalk was streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories, resulting in thousands of comments praising the businesswoman as “Queen of Diversity.”

Models at Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Fashion Show (Source: EliteDaily)

So… are diversity, ageism and inclusivity nice-to-have but not fundamental for brands? Think again. It’s a business necessity for the new type of companies that want to be relevant in the world today. 

Join us on 17th MARCH at LONE DESIGN CLUB to hear more on the topic from PETIT PLI, KOHL KREATIVES, VELSVOIR, and ELVIS. BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE.

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