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Podcast Ep. 32: Should You Start a Sustainable Fashion Brand During a Recession?

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Should You Start a Sustainable Fashion Brand During a Recession? I’m not an economist and I’m obviously biased in how I would answer this. So, I’m crediting all of the info from this episode to the Business of Fashion and leaving my opinion out. In today’s episode, I’m walking you through some things to think about so you can decide for yourself.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Business of Fashion Article

Ep 9: When to Invest in Your Fashion Business (And Where to Start for Free)


Okay, so full disclaimer here: Should you start a sustainable fashion brand during a recession? I’m obviously biased in how I would answer this. But that’s why I’m going to leave my opinion out of today’s episode and walk you through some things to think about so you can decide for yourself.

I’m not an economist – obviously – and I cannot predict the economic future… but I would have to be living in a hole to not hear all of the recession talk in the news, on social media, etc. etc. So while I don’t feel totally qualified to give my two cents on the matter, I’m crediting all of the info from today’s episode to the Business of Fashion.

I came across this article in July – it’s titled “Will a recession stunt sustainable fashion?” and it’s written by Rachel Deeley. When I clicked on it, I assumed I knew what the answer would be… I figured it was another doomsday article about the effects of the pandemic, how the world is going down the gutter and why sustainable fashion will never go mainstream.

But I was wrong. And the article gave me an unexpected boost of hope for our industry. Here’s why:

The last major recession was in 2008. I remember it well – it was the year I graduated college with a journalism degree and decided to travel the world, bartend and live off of tips instead of getting a real job with an actual salary.

According to the Business of Fashion, the 2008 recession was a huge setback for the sustainable fashion industry. At the time, it was only a fledgling and emerging movement and the economic downturn crushed its momentum.

Fast forward to today, it’s 2022. And the inside scoop says this – I quote:

“Pressure on the industry to operate more responsibly won’t go away, regardless of the economic climate.” Yes, regardless of the economic climate.

Also, [quote] “A downturn could push consumers to adopt more responsible shopping habits.”

Why? Because they don’t necessarily have as much disposable income to burn on cheap fast fashion. During times of economic downturn, it’s usually the less expensive stuff that’s cut out of the disposable income budget first (TV subscriptions, eating out and yes, the weekly visit to Target for a new pair of leggings.)

People are thinking harder about the things they buy, if they actually need them and are less impulsive with $10 purchases here and there. They’re actually looking to buy less, but better.

Let’s face it, times have changed. It’s not 2008 anymore – there have been shifts in both consumer and business culture that mean things will likely look different in a recession today. And if you’re wanting to start a sustainable fashion brand, then that’s good news for you.

Consumer behavior aside, you also have to remember how long it takes to launch a fashion brand. I’ve said before, a successful brand launch should and can take anywhere from 6-18 months depending on how much time you have to work on it in your day to day.

It only takes a quick Google search to learn that the average recession lasts less than 17 months. In fact, in the post-World War II period, from 1945 to 2020, the average recession only lasted about 10 months.

Which means, that if you start now, like today, September 2022 – with sourcing, product development, audience building, marketing, etc. – then by the time you are actually ready to launch your brand to the world, then (based on historical data) we’ll likely be coming out of the recession.

I’ve said it many times before but I’ll say it again, there has never been a better time in the history of the fashion industry to start your own brand.” We have never been able to start our own businesses in such an inexpensive and less risky way by being able to first test the market and second, pre-sell our products.

And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I have a 60-minute free workshop that will teach you exactly what I mean and show you how to do it for yourself. I’ll link to the registration page in the show notes below if you’re interested.

My best advice, economic climate aside, is always to start before you’re ready. Because starting a fashion brand takes time – and tomorrow you’ll wish you had started yesterday. 

I hope this episode was helpful – I hope it gave you some hope. And while I’m certainly not suggesting you go and blow all of your savings, I know that if you’re serious about this dream then there are things you can do today that don’t cost a penny to get started. Episode 9 walks you through some of those things, so I’ll link to that episode in the show notes too.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next week.