I'm unsure if this is the result of Trumps America, and I usually save the political opinions for my more personal blog but 2017 has brought about the fall of 2 of my most admired fashion companies and thats left me feeling a little glum. I've worked in fashion for most of my adult life in one way or another, admiring those from a distance who have built up their brand and product from nothing. I'm left asking myself, why did these businesses so many admire and loyally buy from, falter and fail?
Earlier in the year, it was announced Nastygal went into receivership with it's founder Sophia Amaruso stepping away from her CEO duties mid 2016 to pursue her "Girlboss" brand through its radio and print, reaching out to millions of like minded gal entrepreneurs to give them inspiration on how to succeed in this manly world. Sophia's story is one which for many vintage sellers who started their businesses as hobbies, is the ultimate success story. To pour your passion, heart and soul into specialized product, producing a loyal and solid fanbase (on MySpace mind you! Remember that platform?) who will wait in the wings for your latest offerings, seems like the perfect recipe for sustaining and growing a business. But the reins were handed over and it seemed the Nastygal product seemed quite high end and out of reach for most young 16-30yr olds, veering away from it's "vintage" sass and focussing more on very haute seductive wear.
Just last night I read about Susan Gregg-Koger, founder of ModCloth, making a massive $$ deal with Walmart and Jet.com for them to buy up the ModCloth brand. For many loyal ModCloth shoppers, this was horrifying news as the ethics of Walmart towards its workers, unions and women goes against all the moral standards which many ModCloth customers thought were the foundations of their brand and product. I decided to see how Twitter reacted to this news this morning and was shocked to read from Susan's very own Twitter "Facebook and IG fans have been kind but Twitter mentions are hard to read".
I ask these CEO's and founders who started revolutions within the millennium fashion industry: Is it so hard to fathom, or unfair to think that the customer base who loyally supported your vision and brand for many many years, is upset that you failed to sustain your passion to support the brands you created? I understand that some things don't last forever, but where did the decision to replace your presence with those who don't understand the brand nor product, come into it? Was this bad hiring decisions on your part? Did the replacement CEO's or those at a leadership level, fail to recognize and see red flags? Many customers have been loyal to these brands for over a decade because of their uniqueness both in approach to product and the all round fun online shopping experience.
For me, of many of the online retailers I regularly buy from, ModCloth was always fair in terms of if an order when missing or, needing to return because the fit of the product wasn't right. So I hope with Walmart quietly behind the scenes, the quality of service which ModCloth offered, isn't stained with bad reputation Walmart has gained because of their quality of product and how they treat staff. I read up on Glassdoor some interesting reviews of what it's like to work @ ModCloth...and it looks like the last 6 months were filled with layoffs, no job security and scrambled internal business process. The one thing I hope for their new venture is to obtain a leadership group that doesn't wain the quality of service and product, as I noticed around beginning of 2016 ModCloths product pricing was getting a little too high end for me to take any interest in.
It's a sad day for women who thought buying styles from these retailers, meant they'd see limited people wearing specific vintage inspired clothing, or know that overseas garment workers/makers aren't being exploited for.
All hope is not lost. There are many more authentic vintage & modern day inspired fashion websites where customers can visit and buy directly from. I've complied a small list but some of these sites are HUGE so plenty of product available and you may find the pricing a much better deal than expected.
B.A.I T Footwear: https://www.baitfootwear.com/
Mizz Mooz: https://miz-mooz.com/
Lindy Bop USA: https://www.lindybopusa.com/
Steady Clothing: http://www.steadyclothing.com/
Unique Vintage: http://www.unique-vintage.com/
Miss Fourtune UK: http://missfortune.co.uk/
I have no doubts that the next Sophia or Susan is out there, waiting to make their own strategic and unique start-up in the wonderful world of fashion. If their customers are crying for a business they can really get behind and support, then perhaps apps like Depop and Whurl will start to really make their mark with consumers. After all....these 2 journey's started with Vintage (and i mean ACTUAL vintage items) not new fabric vintage "inspired" clothing. With the fall of empires, comes the rise of a new fashionista.