Small fashion brands have arguably never had as much clout with young consumers as they do today, and these 4 are on track to become the next big thing…
Young consumers have notoriously perplexed the fashion world with their shopping and style preferences, and while big retailers have struggled to find the right trend to bring them back into stores, one trend has gotten hotter and hotter: small brands are the new it bag. As just one example: Toms is “a fraction of Nike’s size,” but according to the Brand World Value Index, Millennials want to support the smaller brand more.
Part of the small brand renaissance is young consumers’ desire to be different, and dress uniquely—which we explored in our Unique is the New Cool trend last year. New data continues to show that having an individual style is their goal: 60% of Millennials prefer to be unique and stand out from the crowd, compared to 48% of Gen X and 40% of Boomers. Fashion retailers (like Abercrombie & Fitch) who relied on “selling a uniform, branded look” have struggled as a result. But small indie fashion brands and startups are benefiting from the desire. In our monthly survey on shopping and fashion, 39% of 13-33-year-olds and 43% of 13-17-year-olds agree they shop for clothes/accessories that are “one of a kind.” Half of young consumers told us they like to buy things from smaller, less known brands. Bigger retail brands have certainly taken notice. Amazon is rumored to be eyeing several “hot” fashion startups—including Everlane and Le Tote—to acquire as part of their effort to become a bigger fashion destination. But there are always new indie brands earning young consumers’ interest. Here are four fashion startups gaining success by appealing to some of Millennials’ and teens’ current fashion desires:
A startup is earning tons of fans in Silicon Valley, and it has nothing to do with tech. AllBirds is a shoe brand created by a former football (soccer) player tired of finding only heavily-branded, sponsored gear. As a reaction he created an “unbranded” shoe, that takes a completely different approach to sneakers. For one thing, the brand’s debut design, the “Wool Runner,” has been called the “world’s most comfortable shoe”—it’s made of all wool, which means that it can be worn without socks. They can also be thrown in the washing machine when dirty, and only cost $95. But it’s their logo-less look that might set AllBirds apart the most. Sneakers are known for being heavily branded, making a clean look standout—in a good way—and 66% of 13-33-year-olds disagree with the statement “I like to wear clothing items with logos on them.”
The athleisure market has blown up to the extent that it feels like there couldn’t be more room for another sports and workout-inspired fashion brand…but Caraa thinks they’ve found the one gap in the market. The New York based startup is creating the world’s first athleisure bag, a collection of totes that “transitions seamlessly from fitness studio to office or dinner date.” Their bags are convertible—the first can be worn as a satchel, cross body, and backpack—and stylish. They’re also earning major attention. According to Forbes, a recent partnership with Reebok made them the first-ever non-Reebok brand to be sold in Reebok stores.
A Millennial stylist is making waves in the celebrity world with her unique line of jewelry. After launching her first jewelry line at just 19-years-old, Marmer’s eponymous luxury line has become a favorite of It girls and red carpet walkers, worn by the likes of Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, and Halsey. She’s perhaps is best known for her crown jewel: a golden nail that is attached to a ring, inspired by gold teeth grills. To keep competitors away, she also launched daughter brand AM by Amanda Marmer to “knock [herself] off” with more affordable products. Recently adding candles, accessories, and amenities to the mix, Marmer hope to ultimately create a lifestyle brand of “luxury and modest items that can enhance a hand, a home, and a way of life.”
Toni Ko went from selling her cosmetics company to L’Oreal for $500 million to founding a Millennial-focused sunglass brand worn by Cara Delevingne and the Jenners. After noticing a gap in the $36 billion sunglasses global market, Ko set out to create a line that would fall between expensive designer and cheap fast fashion. Perverse Sunglasses targets 25-year-olds and “the 15-year-old who wants to be 25 and the 35-year-old who wants to be 25,” offers trendy eyewear for under $60, and comes in “every color of the rainbow.” According to Ko, young consumers aren’t attracted to pricey designer brands: “Millennials are going to spend money on what they believe in, and the Millennial generation actually cares about the value versus the cost.”
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