Today’s advice comes from Kenneth Cole, designer and founder of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc, via Harvard Business Review:
“I try to be out in the world and understand what it is that people are looking for. My job isn’t to tell people what they should wear. My job is to find out what they want and give it to them in a way they didn’t quite expect. When I was younger I would often go to nightclubs and sit in the best-lit corner to look at what people chose to wear, or I’d go out and around the city — to places where people express their sense of what they think looks good. So, I get a sense of that, and then I try to interpret it.”
Cole says knowing who your consumers are and what they want is an essential starting point for every business. The trick is to not only give people what they are looking for, but to take that a step further by surprising them into buying products that they didn’t even know they wanted yet. Cole suggests that in the fashion industry, and in any other business, you need to be one step ahead of the consumer at all times. You need to know what it is that they want now and figure out, even before they do, what it is they will want in the future.
“In the fashion business, there [aren’t] any rules. In fact, the better you [are] at creating something new, the greater the likelihood you would be successful…At the end of the day, people don’t need our shoes, and they don’t need our clothes. The truth is, we have to make ’em think they do and make ’em glad they thought it and make ’em think it again.”
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