AMFI’s students Femke Castermans, Amelie Sophie Amann and Mélodie Balan were recently awarded with the SPORTSWEAR INTERNATIONAL "Special Mention" award at the July 2018 Isko Iskool educational project and contest. As this year’s major theme focused on the importance of sustainability SI asked the students about their vision of the market and expectations for the future.
You participated the Isko Iskool Award 2018 edition. How was this experience for you? What did you learn from it?
It was an amazing experience, presenting our marketing project in front of a panel international marketing experts. Also, it was very helpful to get feedback just after the presentation. Usually, as a student, we wouldn’t get the opportunity to participate in such a professional setting or compete with different universities from all over the world. Furthermore, it was a big challenge for all of us because we were all either busy with our graduation or internships next to the project. Hence, we had to deal with quite a bit of pressure. So, participating in this award helped us to grow on many levels.
How did you inform yourself and what research did you carry ahead to prepare the marketing project for this contest?
The idea of attending the marketing award happened after we took part in the denim minor at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, an optional program provided by our school that works directly with the industry. During the minor we created a sub-brand for one of the biggest denim brands for a new target group including a collection and a communication strategy. The program and activities such as visiting major industry trade fairs, international manufacturing facilities and workshops with industry specialists helped us to understand the challenge of the denim industry. In addition, our research findings were a relevant starting point for our Isko Iskool marketing concept.
Every week, we planned a meeting and feedback session with our tutor Jo Watson. She guided us and helped us to go further with this project.
We think the most important step to develop a relevant marketing concept is in-depth research. Next to statistics and data–that we found online–we visited Kingpins Amsterdam denim trade show to get in touch with people from the industry. Furthermore, we did street interviews with our target group to get a better understanding of the current perception and did a survey.
For the marketing project that made us win this award we tackled the issue that every year an estimated 750 million meters of denim fabrics are thrown away because of minor imperfections. Our concept is mocking fashion industry’s hype for perfectionism by suggesting that flawed fabrics can be reused for an imaginary collection with a discount visual identity.
What did you learn about the present denim and jeans market situation?
It is great to see how the denim market is growing rapidly as new generations are searching for products that tell a story. Yet, we do believe many changes are to be done in this industry in terms of sustainability. If we want to make sure that people wear and love denim in the future, we have to treat the planet and its inhabitants more ethically and responsibly.
Do consumers still love jeans or not? What do jeans mean to the young consumer and to you?
The young consumer’s appetite for denim is still growing. Blue jeans are a much-loved design archetype and denim is a quality long-lasting fabric. More than this, denim’s symbolic roots of the blue-collar worker means it is for everyone–it’s unpretentious and trustworthy. And for decades it has been the chosen garment of numerous counterculture movements. For this reason it exists outside of fashion and will always be attractive to the young. It’s like a blank canvas for each generation to make it their own.
What would jeans need in order to evolve and become a bestseller again?
We believe that many denim brands could step up their game in regards to marketing. In our oversaturated world, brands need to make extra effort to get the short attention span of customers. We think that humor is a great tool to both create a relationship and to stand out. But sustainable issues need to be communicated in a more attractive way, as not to make people feel guilty. Research shows that people start to feel powerless with too much bad news and threats. So that’s what we tried to achieve with our project: we wanted to motivate people in a funny way.
What are your aspirations and what would you like to do in the future?
Being aware of the circumstances of today’s fashion industry, we feel obliged to be at the front of making this industry more sustainable. Due to our different study backgrounds in the fashion industry we are looking at every process and every link in the fashion supply chain, from the farming of the resources to the afterlife of products. And as future fashion marketing and brand professionals we hope to influence the consumer’s behavior for the better.
Would you like to continue working in the fashion and denim fields?
Definitely, that’s what our blue hearts beat for. Mèlodie and Amelie, our two branders, are now done with their studies and would like to start a job in the denim industry. Femke, our manager, just finished her internship at Acne Studios and has one more semester at AMFI before starting in the working field.
How will marketing and communication evolve in the future in these fields, according to your experience?
The up-and -coming Generation Z will soon become the single largest consumer group on the planet. Marketing and communication will align with their inclusive and sustainable mindset. This generation wants to make its own rules and redefine outdated social constructs. A communication strategy carrying a strong message will have more impact than having a strong aesthetic in the future.
How did the emergence of the Internet, social networks, e-commerce, mobile devices and other Internet-related aspects influence its evolution?
Having access to multiple sources of information, as a consumer, allows you to be able to find anything you want and need at that moment. But it also leads to constant pressure to keep up, or the constant comparison of your life against others. Consumers are realizing the negative aspects of social media on their mental health lately and thus are demanding more honest and real communication that aligns with their personal values. Equally, because of this more intimate relationship with brands, they expect them to take a stance on issues in their world that matter to them.
How will marketing further evolve and develop? Will new media continue to play a key role or will consumers slowly abandon them?
Consumers will look to brands more and more for content. If they align with their values they will become important sources of entertainment and news. Brands have taken on an increasingly important role in shaping society and the consumer will expect to find them on multiple different media sources. Some media may go out of fashion but some other source will just take their place.