n recent years, the number of tech-driven consumers has increased as a result of massive technological wave. And this rise has influenced the fashion retailers to play digitally oriented in sector. However, this is not the only reason, for the business side of the issue online selling is much more cost-effective than managing physical stores.
For instance, BCBG Max Azria. According to Sourcing Journal, the multi-brand company has dealt with financial problems last few years. Its heavy debt was a big burden for the company and it has recently filed for Chapter 11(Reorganization Under the Bankruptcy Code)*. The group also declared that they are going to close some physical stores, and will focus on e-commerce for reorganizing. Nonetheless, is this decision adequate to secure their role on the stage?
Undoubtedly, various fashion companies stepped in e-commerce area in order to embrace e-shoppers. It was an opportunity to widen their clientele scale as well as adding a digital identity on company’s label. In return, they gained the ability to compete in online fashion landscape, too.
In fact, BCBG Max Azria took this step years ago. So the brand is not a new player in digital-enabled platforms, as well as on the fashion stage.
Max Azria, the founder of the company, was born in Tunisia. When he was thirteen years old, he moved to France with his family, where he began his fashion career. After eleven-year-work in Paris, he went to US in 1981 and opened his first retail store, Jess, which was specialized in French clothing.
But a retail store was not enough for him. Therefore, he created BCBG which was the acronym of “Bon Chic, Bon Genre -Good Style, Good Attitude-” in 1989. After two years Max’s wife Lubov joined the company as a designer. Consequently, their endeavor brought achievement to Azria Family. And their first runway collection, BCBG Max Azria Runway, was staged New York Fashion Week in 1996.
Year by year, they enlarged their business both adding new line collections and new brands. Thus, BCBG Max Azria became an eminent fashion empire, and today the group has over 1,000 stores in more than 40 countries.
As aforementioned BCBG Max Azria is in the industry more than a quarter century, however, the company faces with economic problems. It is clear that last few years were not easy for retailers even though fashion sector had 8% growth in 2016. Many closed their stores entirely and withdrew from the sector. But BCBG Max Azria Group is trying to find the best exit from this tough situation.
Because of this, the management chose to file Chapter 11 rather than Chapter 7 (Bankruptcy Basics)**. Under Chapter 11 Azria Family will reshape their business. Marty Staff, Interim Chief Executive of BCBG Max Azria, says “The steps we are taking now, to address the shift customer shopping patterns and the growth of online shopping, will allow us to focus on our partner relationships, digital, e-commerce, selected retail locations, and wholesale and licensing arrangements.”
According to this policy, the company is about to close 200 stores. Moreover, the job advertisements on company’s LinkedIn page are mostly temporary roles either part-time or full-time positions in shops. On the contrary, ‘Senior Technical Designer’ position is not declared as temporary. Those might indicate that BCBG Max Azria is still a performer in the sector.
On the other side, the playwright of fashion industry is being rewritten. It is sure that multi-channel retailing is essential in apparel world. But the difference between yesterday and today is that embracing ethical values has gained importance, too.
Particularly, collapse of Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh on 24 April 2013 effected many fashion industry participants. Not only the workers who died, and were injured in the building but also companies, manufacturers, farmers, customers and so on.
Surely, one of the reason is Fashion Revolution movement. Founders of the movement, Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers, have leaded the change since 2013. They focused on untold stories of garment supply chain, such as unsafe working conditions, low wages, long and irregular working hours.
Sadly, we are nowhere near a fashion industry that is free from exploitation-which is why we need to take every opportunity to raise our concerns and push for equality and positive change.”
Co-founder of Fashion Revolution, Castro, says “Sadly, we are nowhere near a fashion industry that is free from exploitation-which is why we need to take every opportunity to raise our concerns and push for equality and positive change.”
Indeed, they created a big team across the world. The movement reached over 90 countries and became global year on year from 2013 to 2017.
However, there is still a long way to walk. Last month Castro won the ‘H&M Consious Award’ at the Elle Style Awards 2017. In her speech she said “It isn’t enough just looking for quality in the products we buy, we must ensure that there is quality in the lives of the people who make them.”
With this kind of approach, Fashion Revolution effected many customers’ behaviors. Now many shoppers turn clothes inside out to see where they were made. Not only after purchasing but also before buying them. Shortly, numerous ethic-driven consumers joined the fashion ecosystem, standing beside tech-driven, trend-driven, and others. And they ask a simple question to textile industry players:
“Who made my clothes?”
There are some companies which participate in this movement and give answers with a photo of their workers written “I made your clothes.” Also some share their manufacturers’ names and places publicly. For example Japanese fashion brand, Uniqlo, published its major supplier list on its website last month .
All knows that change is not an easy cakewalk and takes time. Since 2013 maybe the movement could not have got all answers, but they continue building transparent mind-set in textile industry.
But what if a client owns both ethical and technological mindset. Could they see on mobile or online platforms that where the apparel was produced? Or who sewed it? And the like…
Business side could show the label and give answers before customers do that. This might be much more expressive rather than writing just ‘imported’ on the online stores. Furthermore, it would definitely help to remove question marks and also skip the question-and-answer session.
In short, playing on the stage ethically is one of the key points of today’s fashion and textile industry world. It seems that in order to expand target clientele technology alone is not enough any more. It is time to adopt ethic values and embrace them tightly. Since transparency become more important than we even knew.
Photos: Pixabay, Getty Images, from collection
* Under Chapter 11, the debtor may seek an adjustment of debts, either by reducing the debt or by extending the time for repayment, or may seek a more comprehensive reorganization.
**Under Chapter 7, the bankruptcy trustee gathers and sells the debtor’s nonexempt assets and uses the proceeds of such assets to pay holders of claims (creditors) in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.