Money Matters

How Two Women Are Slowing-Down Fast Fashion With A Unique Business Model

(Source: www.forbes.com)

The Accessory Junkie

For years the breakneck pace of industrialized fast fashion has caused designers of both new and legacy fashion labels to become burnt out. 

Alessandro Michele, of Gucci, implored attendees at the brand’s show in September to “resist the mantra of speed that violently leads to losing oneself. Resist the illusion of something new at any cost.” Customers are starting to feel the grind as well and have begun to embrace slow, curated, and exclusive fashion. Take The Accessory Junkie as a prime example.

Formed in 2016 between two friends, Ursula Lyon and Michelle Reeves, the brand forsakes the constantly-refreshing inventory model by opting for only four collections a year – and once a collection sells out the e-commerce store closes until the next season. Even though there have been only five collections so far – with no advertising or promotions – the swell of customer demand has been growing. Within the first 9 hours of a launch every collection is consistently over 30% sold out, and every season entirely sells out within 4-5 weeks; even more, The Accessory Junkie never puts items on sale.

After the online store closes, Lyon traverses the globe. She meets with non-mass-produced designers in each destination she travels to, from Sydney to Singapore, Iceland to Colombia, and works with them on creating or purchasing limited quantities of specific pieces that fit the theme of each season. Sourced from around the globe, customers can indulge in limited edition pieces handbags, clutches, necklaces, earrings, hats, and more.

The Accessory Junkie

This ability to suss out unique and exotic items seems to be a remarkable talent for Lyon. Reeves says she has witnessed countless times when other women will approach Lyon asking about every item she is wearing and where they can get it too. In fact, the concept for The Accessory Junkie began after Lyon realized on a trip to Italy that she could put this skill to use.

When Lyon returned home she consulted Reeves about this idea, unbeknownst to her just how extensive Reeves’ business background in fashion, finance, marketing and tech was. Reeves has both created and sold several tech businesses before, as well as worked with Gap Inc. and IMG.

The Accessory Junkie

“It just was a beautiful thing that over the course of a few weeks we realized [that] we work so well together,” Lyon says, adding “the next thing we knew we just decided that it was something we could build together and make really great and unique; we jumped onboard together and launched the first collection a year ago.”

Lyon’s own background isn’t in business or fashion, but in design and painting, which she says connects her on an intimate level with the pieces she finds.

“I really do believe that accessories are a form of art and it’s a way to have a piece of art…so that’s something very important to me,” she says.

Lyon doesn’t only have a good eye for picking out accessories on her travels, but also a Gladwellian-gift for finding artists and artisans with wild and fascinating stories. There was the Colombian designer born into a jewelry-making family who branched out on her own and now has a shop next to her father where they share a backroom and have coffee together every morning, or the Parisian designer who fell in love with a man from India and moved to be with him and whose work evokes the bright color scheme of India and the romanticism of France.

The Accessory Junkie

In its first year, The Accessory Junkie found traction with women, age 28-48, who appreciate travel and in the past 12 months, the inventory has increased five times while the average cart size increases 38% seasons-over-season so far. The company has seen such demand from customers that it recently began doing on the road pop-up stores across the country with items that will never be sold online, and is also launching a holiday collection on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Notably, The Accessory Junkie never has items on clearance.

“Instead what we give our customers is something far more rewarding than that in a very competitive marketplace,” Reeves says, explaining that because items sell so quickly, customers who are able to snag an item get to experience a truly unique, limited-edition item. “The joy of discovery for them is very similar to the joy of discovery that Ursula is having when she’s finding these pieces,” Reeves says.

The business model is one that no other e-commerce company is doing right now, which gives the company a leg up despite what may initially seem counterproductive.

“This model allows us to do something that no one else is able to do, and that is that we can sync of with the seasonality of existing consumer behavior,” Reeves says. “So that means that when we launch a collection it is actually in that season.” It may seem a novel concept, but considering how many times one can see winter coats in August that are on sale by October when consumers are just beginning to think about the winter season, it actually makes sense from a business perspective.

The Accessory Junkie

As the business continues to develop, Lyon and Reeves are looking to perfect their current business model while growing inventory by adding new items and also learning what the capacity for production is from designers for certain pieces, Reeves says. The company is self-funded (and cash positive); it has been approached by venture capitalists but intends to remain self-funded for now because of the liberty it provides Lyon and Reeves to experiment. Lyon has also thought about introducing pieces she has designed herself, although this is a long-off concept she says.

“I always say it’s so much more than jewelry,” Lyon says. “There’s a story behind it and so when that story is taken on by the person that buys it the item and then they can retell it like it’s theirs, it’s like magic.”

 

More Info: www.forbes.com

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