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Operational planning for an online fashion retail future

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The future fashion world fashion world is going to have a lot less shops
The future fashion world fashion world is going to have a lot less shops

The future fashion world fashion world is going to have a lot less shops

The new fashion retail landscape emerging in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic is already leading to dramatic and permanent changes in the way brands and fashion retailers plan and work. Here, Malcolm Newbery shares his views on some of the practical steps that surviving businesses should consider as online becomes the dominant way of doing business.

Writing earlier this year about the future for fashion retail after coronavirus, I identified dramatic and permanent changes to the way brands and fashion retailers plan and work. The fashion industry will never be the same as it was before the virus struck. Certain ways in which we work, in marketing to the consumer, in planning, in our supply chains and in stock control, will never return to pre-Covid methods.

At the end of March three things were clear:

• Consumer demand for fashion bought in shops was already falling, as online grew.

• Some retailers were in deep financial trouble because of high fixed property costs (rent and rates), especially those that were heavily indebted as a consequence of private equity investment.
• Fashion supply chains were nervous about Brexit, and its continuing uncertainty on trade deals.

In the April article, I said:
• We shall have a fashion world in which online has become the dominant way of doing business, and there will be many fewer shops.
• Putting merchandise in shops and waiting for the consumer to “turn up” physically is dead. We must put the merchandise online and “point” the consumer at it.
• Planners must accept that the way of doing things, which was stores first and online as a second thought, should be reversed.
• The purpose of stores (at least for those that are left open) will change. They will become both places from which customer online orders are dispatched, and places where poor sellers and unsold stock are sold at marked down prices.
• Brands will increasingly try to sell direct to consumers online. Relying on retailers with physical shops will be like Canute trying to stop the tide coming in.

We are at the end of July and:
• Many large retailers in the US, UK and continental Europe cancelled outstanding production orders for late spring/summer and early autumn/winter. Some cancelled orders placed but not yet in their warehouses, using force majeure clauses in their buying contracts.
• We have large quantities of old stock in shops and warehouses, dating from March to end June.
• As a consequence, there is little no new supply arriving from April to October or later. The best we can do is place some orders for Christmas trade.

Three future scenarios

There are three ways a fashion business can forecast the likely scenario of this situation.

1: The best case bounce-back scenario, the V-shaped recovery.

2: The middle case, “it will recover to something similar to now, but slowly.”
3: The worst case, “the model is broken. When we recover, the industry will be different.”

“Bounce backers” included, until recently, those two always optimistic world leaders, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. The former said “We are in great shape” whilst many states closed down and their virus cases grew to be “world beating.” Johnson promised to “turn the tide on coronavirus in 12 weeks.” No-one knew what “turn the tide” meant, and it certainly was not going to happen. They are wasting their time and our patience.

I would like to believe the middle case, but cannot. Nobody likes to think about the worst case scenario, but that is what I believe any sane business leader should do. So this is my personal view on what will happen to the fashion retail economy in most of the industrialised world.

• Consumers have lost so much income that, even if they wanted to go back shopping for fashion, they would not be able to.
• At least 20% of the shops will never reopen. Just think about the recent redundancy announcements by Boots (pharmacies) and John Lewis (department stores) in the UK, and JCPenney in US.

Because consumer behaviour is changing:
• The convenience experience of more home deliveries will accelerate the percentage of clothing, as well as food, bought online.
• The experience of doing without not-needed clothing will put people off returning to their previous shopping patterns of behaviour, as will social distancing and mask wearing in shops.
• The shock of seeing the world crippled by a virus will change attitudes towards saving the planet by travelling less, and buying clothing in a more sustainable manner – which means throwing away less, and hence buying less.

So, let’s:
• Decide which shops will never re-open, and which will become delivery points for click and collect, and as markdown outlets.
• Concentrate on our website and, if you are like Boohoo, buy distressed physical retailers and convert them to online.
• But, most of all, change the way we operate.

Here are my suggestions.

Business operational changes. Time to rethink the planning paradigm

At the end of the pandemic, we shall see a fashion world in which online has become the dominant way of doing business.

We know that we are going to have many fewer shops. It has always been my contention that the UK is over-shopped. It has more square metres per one million adults than almost every other nation on earth.

The purpose of many stores – at least for those that are left open – will change. They will become both places from which customer online orders are dispatched, and places where poor sellers and unsold stock are sold at marked-down prices. The shops themselves will morph into something that looks like factory outlet stores. Not very beautiful. The high street will look and function in a very different manner to now.

So how does that affect operational planning?

Because the purpose of stores will change, planners will pay even less attention to fixed seasonal calendars than they do now. Seasons will morph into streams of garments arriving at our warehouse at different times, and being on sale from the date when they are live on our website. Only then will attention be paid to how many (if any) will be allocated to stores.

This approach will be forced on a lot of businesses, for the simple reason that there will no longer be many physical fashion trade shows. They have mostly been cancelled or become virtual and will be so until at least next spring, when they will be showing autumn/winter 2021. With no physical fashion trade shows, there is no pressure to have ranges all available at the same date, or in the stores at what is now a “fictional” beginning of a season. The seasonal rules will be thrown out of the window.

Businesses will also rethink their long lead time supply chains. Covid-19 has brought to the forefront of the planning process the fragility of some of these. Even such conservative supply chain planners as Marks & Spencer are openly questioning the status quo and talking about “near shoring.” I remain cynical. Buying prices are still paramount.

The consequence of the last three paragraphs is that everything will, in future, depend on a sales forecast. Sales history, unless you are selling exactly the same garment as last year, will become much less important; in some cases irrelevant. And also, because of the point about the future purpose of stores, stock density as a measure of store allocation will also become irrelevant.

Range parameters will be superseded by timing control of streams of similar garments. As the garments arrive and are put online, this will be accompanied by marketing measures designed to “point” them at the consumer, because he or she will not necessarily see them in physical stores any more.

But option and SKU management will not just die. They remain important for stock control and cash flow reasons.

Fast fashion will still follow trends. But the trends will be set by designers and brands online, not by the pressure from trade shows, because their raison d’être has gone.

The conclusion about following trends is bad news for the trend forecasting industry, as was the prediction of the demise of physical trade shows. Predicting to retailers and brands how to be “on trend” will still exist, but will be much less influential. This is because the trend forecasting companies will find it harder to function with fluid seasons as against fixed ones. It is also bad news for fashion journalists, but better news for short term bloggers of individual items as they arrive and go online. However some things never change. Being loyal to your handwriting (look) will continue to be a constant in the world of buyers and merchandisers.

Sales forecasting will become more centred around ranking and percentage participation within groups of linked garments (ranges). This will be in spite of the fact that the linked garments will be going on sale at different times.

Lead times will, nevertheless, still matter. Consequently, how to understand how mass production works in clothing factories remains essential for buyers and merchandisers. And understanding work content (standard minutes) will remain a critical skill for the pricing of garments. This applies to what we buy them for and what we sell them for.

As explained earlier, the allocation routine will be reversed. So, first you will decide what to keep in your warehouse for online customers. Second you decide what, if any, quantities are put into physical stores, which will look less beautiful, because they will be dumping grounds (outlets). And the importance of visual merchandising will therefore diminish

The “in-ratio” approach to buying will just wither away. If the majority of a purchase order is to be left in the warehouse for online customer ordering, in-ratio is an obstacle, not an advantage, because it was invented for easy store allocation. Direct to store deliveries from suppliers will simply fade away, except for little boutiques selling brands. Replenishment will become more haphazard, because the stores have become delivery points and the receptacle for ends of lines.

The rules for multichannel, which are currently a minefield of confusion, will have to be completely rethought. It’s going to be an interesting time to be a merchandiser.

Finally, let’s consider in-season stock control and markdowns. KPIs will need redesigning. As yet, I do not know how. And the WSSI (weekly sales, stock and intake) data as a merchandising tool may be past its sell-by date. Under and over stocks will be controlled, not from the head office centrally, but from stores individually. In the UK, Ted Baker has announced the sale of its head office in London, and 500 head office redundancies. The emphasis will shift from supply-push from the centre to demand-pull from stores.

The failure to avoid gross margin erosion will remain the cardinal sin for both buyers and merchandisers. Markdown and promotion decisions will be taken more on the basis of what is selling badly online, than on what is selling badly in store.

Conclusion

To summarise this long list of predictions for operational changes:
• Trends will not be set at trade shows (many of which will never reopen).
• Seasonality will be dramatically diminished.
• Long lead time supply chains will be avoided where possible.

Working practices such as
• analysing sales history will look outdated;
• as will receiving goods in ratio for allocation to stores;
• and the control of over and under stocks centrally from retail head offices (if any are left) will go.

Finally, markdowns will be based on what is selling badly online, not on what is happening to sales in shops. It will be a case of; “O brave new world that has such people in it!” – Shakespeare. Fashion managers had better learn to be brave, and change their habits.

That is a lot of predictions. Who wants to argue them through, as they affect your business.

Click on the following link to read Malcolm Newbery’s earlier assessment on: What’s the future for fashion retail after coronavirus?

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The young designers shattering stereotypes around Indian fashion

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The young designers shattering stereotypes around Indian fashion

In a country of 1.3 billion, diversity in dress is a given. Still, perceptions of Indian fashion — both within and beyond the country’s borders — remain bound by stale visions of saris in blinding hues, traditional clothing and elephant, peacock and tiger motifs. These lazy assumptions are compounded by the fact that some of the largest players in the luxury fashion industry quietly contract thousands of the country’s artisans to embroider eyewateringly-expensive products in factories that fail to meet basic safety standards, as reported by GFN. And while outside of India, members of the diaspora such as Supriya Lele, Kaushik Velendra, Priya Ahluwalia, and Ashish Gupta are among the names known for helping to dismantle stereotypes attached to ‘Indian dress’, it’s time for the fashion world to acknowledge the young, India-based designers doing so, too.

These non-conformist minds deliberately refrain from dipping their feet into the nation’s lucrative $50 billion wedding market (in India nuptials are typically extravagant affairs spread over multiple days, and the quest for the perfect bridal outfit stokes high demand for full-time couturiers). By refusing to jump on the bandwagon and taking the path less trodden, the designers behind AKHL Studio, Bloni, Bodice and Aroka are consciously bypassing staid exoticist perceptions of India to celebrate how far we’ve come. Rooted in tradition but not restricted by it, their clothes are proudly ‘Made in India’ but globally relevant.

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

AKHL Studio

“We need to stop turning our craft into clichés just because we feel like the West will lap it up”, is Akhil Nagpal’s immediate response when asked to explain the premise of his Delhi-based avant-garde label. At first glance, AKHL Studio’s iridescent, sculptural silhouettes may not seem like an average Indian fashion consumer’s cup of chai (tea), but that’s precisely the point – the CSM alum’s driving motivation is to rewrite the narrative of what the global fashion community expects from the country’s fashion designers; to “push the envelope with what can be achieved with the Indian hand”.

With its metallic tulle dresses spliced with vivid lurex tapes, gradient-dyed silk organza tops and robust bustiers embellished with hand-embroidered glass yarn fringes, AKHL Studio’s latest collection, ‘Reflektor’, embodies this vision. A clue for what makes the collection so appealing is right there in its title. “The key garments in this collection have first been handwoven on the loom and then interlaced with upcycled yarn to achieve interesting shapes. Some of the biodegradable materials used such as thermoplastic polyurethane are light-sensitive and thus the title Reflektor seemed apt”, Akhil reveals.

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

The designer’s desire to create multidimensional pieces of wearable art was further consolidated by the support of his atelier, a group of weavers and artisans from villages across India, who shared a similar zeal for delivering the unexpected. “Our artisans can execute modern patterns and styles, however, it’s up to designers to push them in that direction and lead the way in contemporising Indian craft”, he says. What makes his practice yet more impressive is that he’s able to do that without succumbing to the “hamster wheel” of the seasonal fashion calendar. Instead, Akhil has opted to preserve the value of slow, ethical Indian craft which his tight-knit community cherishes. An important guiding principle for the designer is “creating something new and letting it find its people”, he notes.  It’s safe to say that AKHL Studio found theirs.

A model wearing a vinly outfit from Bloni

Image courtesy of Bloni

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Bloni

While boys his age spent their days playing gully (street) cricket and football, Akshat Bansal pored over yards and yards of intricately printed fabrics in the back of his father’s sari store. He wasn’t just a mesmerised kid in a sartorial candy shop, however. Instead, the interest in textiles he demonstrated back then was an indication of things to come.

After completing a formal fashion education at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Mumbai, before heading on to Central Saint Martins, he then landed a coveted apprenticeship at Cad & the Dandy on Savile Row. It was there that he received a year-long fastidious schooling in tailoring, learning to appreciate the importance of consistency, discipline and the accuracy of every stitch. Akshat then flew back to India only to realise the absence of homegrown brands catering to something other than the country’s booming wedding and occasion-wear market.

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And so, in Delhi in 2017, Bloni was born – a demi-couture brand that questions fashion’s norms through free-spirited storytelling and futuristic, genderless designs. “It’s all about cross-pollination and fluidity right now. Thanks to social media, we are all hybrids of sorts who aren’t limited by borders – our wardrobe needs to reflect that too,” Akshat says. A quick look at the brand’s previous collections – think jet black leather finished satin saris, flouncy skirts, fun tie-and-dye and cutout bodysuits made with nylon from ocean waste –is all it takes to confirm that.

If you’re after further proof of the brand’s sustainability credentials, step into Bloni’s flagship store in Delhi’s Dhan Mill compound. While you’ll find plenty of peppy clothing on the rails, these aren’t pieces you can pick up at whim. Be it their fluorescent tie-dye overcoats (hand-dyed by Akshat himself) or sequinned hoodie dresses, every garment is made-to-measure, and fitted to the body like a second skin. “I think the future of fashion comes down to this – if it’s more personal, it’s more sustainable,” he says. “If it feels special to you, then you want to cherish it regardless of the trend cycle.”

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

Bodice

“If I knew as much as I know today, there’s no chance I would have started Bodice back in 2011. It takes a certain naivety to plunge into a completely new space”, Delhi-based designer Ruchika Sachdeva admits. With the aim of challenging externally imposed distinctions between Indian and Western fashion, the London College of Fashion alum drew up the blueprint for her textile-driven contemporary label within a year of graduating. This line of thought may not be perceived as radical today, but it certainly was 10 years ago when Ruchika arrived back home to find a lack of options that celebrated India’s wealth of craftsmanship without succumbing to conventions of flamboyance, colours and bling galore.

Armed with enthusiasm for offering minimalist ensembles for the modern Indian woman, Ruchika built Bodice to highlight the nuances of Indian fashion that often get buried beneath all the glitz. “It might look pared down on the outside, but there’s so much going on inside – the seams, the cut and the fall need to come together perfectly so that a dress is tucked in just the right places and highlights a woman’s curves”, she says.

Just as crucial to Ruchika as the construction of her garments is minimising the environmental impact involved in making them and forming long-lasting relationships with artisans in different corners of the country. Bodice’s garments are made exclusively using locally procured natural fibres such as recycled cotton from Kolkata, silk and wool directly sourced from Bhutti weavers in the Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh, all in a bid to support India’s fibre producers. “Being in Delhi, the air you breathe is a constant reminder of the fact that you’ve got to be conscious and do your bit – if not now, then when?”, Ruchika says. Keeping in mind that India’s capital tops the list in having the worst air quality in the world and recently went into lockdown, not because of coronavirus, but because of the toxic smog that engulfed the city – it’s imperative for brands, now more than ever, to be mindful about the environment.

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

Apart from having a strong focus on sustainability and versatility, there’s another defining feature of Bodice’s trans-seasonal apparel – pleats. Giving fluid silhouettes a “powerful” structure, she says, her yen for the technique was a reactionary result to her daily environment. “Being born and brought up in India, I’m used to an overload of sensory experiences; there’s a million things happening and it’s so chaotic. Sometimes I think my love for pleating stems as an innate response to that, almost like a need to streamline things and indulge in some sort of repetitive practice.”

Despite it being a time-consuming technique that requires mathematical precision, Ruchika relishes the challenge. What helps? Visualising the woman she designs for: “I like the fact that my customer is me – in her early 30s, independent and finally able to put her foot down. At Bodice, we are always striving to help this woman occupy space quietly but with a steadfast attitude. I believe that clothes are the first conversation you have with anybody without even opening your mouth; it’s a form of art that’s the closest to your body”, she says. Who knew pleats could be the new pillar of power-dressing?

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

Aroka

Āroka’s (a Sanskrit word that translates to light shining through woven threads) debut collection of vibrant pieces interspersed with traditional silhouettes like the lehenga and sari played it safe and won hearts.  However, it wasn’t close to the paradigm shift that its co-founders Karan Ahuja and Shweta Aggarwal wanted to accomplish. The duo yearned to cut through the existing noise and experiment with Indian textiles to present them in a globally relevant light. Despite the looming risk of losing its existing customer base and entering uncharted territory, they decided to push ahead with a complete revamp of Āroka’s design philosophy in 2019.

“I enjoy challenging the usual use of local fabrics. For example, we have re-introduced handwoven muslin with ruching techniques to create slinky halter necks and crop tops. India is well-known for its khadi (handloom cotton), but I give it a textural treatment by incorporating raw, frayed edges”, says Shweta, an Instituto Marangoni graduate who is also Āroka’s creative director. The Mumbai-based label’s repository now consists of understated jewel-toned slip dresses, funky asymmetrical outerwear they tag as ‘half and half jackets’, sultry bandeau tops and easy-breezy kaftans that gained a cult following which continued to grow even during the pandemic.

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

Shedding light on social issues that plague today’s society is the foundation upon which they built their proposal. Inducing conversations around sustainability, fair trade and mental health, where Āroka’s garments do all the talking, is pivotal to its DNA. Notice the subtle yet hopeful messaging embroidered onto the sleeves of its linen tops, belts and bomber jackets such as ‘This too shall pass’, ‘Still, I rise’, and ‘It’s okay to not be okay’.

When the nation was hit by a devastating second wave of the pandemic in April earlier this year, Āroka launched ‘Quote Your Price’, an initiative to recognize the unwavering efforts of its artisanal community. “Our karigars (artisans) can create something no one else can anywhere in the world. Yet, most of them are severely underpaid, exploited by middlemen and subjected to unethical working conditions – even more so during the pandemic. Through this initiative, we wanted consumers to become conscious of the handiwork and attention to detail our artisans pour into the making of each garment and then quote the amount they wished to pay for the same”, the duo explains. Proceeds from those sales were donated to Dastkar – a non-profit organization supporting Indian craftspeople.

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Ducks: the future of the fashion industry

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Ducks: the future of the fashion industry

A typical day in the life of UO sophomore Christopher Kiyota consists of checking his Instagram direct messages for new orders to his sneaker resale business, going through his inventory list and making a trip to the post office for new shipments — all between classes and study sessions. This is the ordinary routine of a young college business owner living out his dream with ambitions of taking his passion to new heights.

Running and managing a business is no easy feat as a full-time college student, but these four UO students have channeled their love for fashion into self-made brands and career ventures. They each hope to express their creativity and inspire others by making an impact on the world through their own fashion outlet.

The vintage connoisseur: Alexandra Webster

@approachvintage

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and UO’s track season was cancelled, student athlete Alexandra Webster had a lot of free time on her hands. Already known by friends and family for her unique curation of vintage outfits, she started developing her skill for thrifting and personal styling.

“I started to get motivated because you don’t have anything else to do,” Webster said. “I started getting into fashion and clothing to try to keep myself busy.”

Noticing her newfound interest in fashion and thrifting, her mom suggested the idea of turning what was a quarantine hobby into a monetary opportunity by opening her own store. With thrifting rising in popularity amid the pandemic, Webster realized her knack for hand selecting thrifted items could become her own business that could help others with their style too.






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Alexa talks about how she eventually wants to bringing Approach Vintage online one day. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Ali Watson/Emerald)


She took the leap and opened up her own clothing store: Approach Vintage.

A resale store of unique vintage pieces and popular trendy items, Approach Vintage is located at The Woodlands Mall in her hometown of Houston, Texas, serving as a way to share her love of fashion with others. The store offers all kinds of original pieces, such as oversized jeans, bomber jackets, graphic tees, bucket hats and more. In the nearly two years since the start of her business, Webster has already seen massive success and growth, reaching six figures in sales within her first year of opening the store, she said.

Webster described how truly blessed she was to have that opportunity fall in her lap and be able to get her vintage store started right down the street from where she lived.

“People have been so supportive,” Webster said. “All my friends are always walking by, showing me when they’re at the store; they’ll take a photo and tell me that they’re there. It’s amazing.”

As a new small business owner, it can be difficult to promote your business and gain a wider customer base. Starting out, Approach Vintage was no exception to those challenges.

“The hardest thing was getting my name out there, because I’ve never really known what to do with marketing and promoting myself and a small business that just started out,” Webster said. “But once people started hearing about it, I saw that people love it, and they’re posting about it.”

In the future, Webster wants to expand her brand and branch out into other lines and chains under the same name, broadening her product line as well as her customer base. She plans to start Approach Athletics, a new business with a focus on athletic wear, in the near future.

“I like the idea of not being afraid to do something,” Webster said. “Life’s pretty short, so just do it.”

The ultimate sneaker plug: Christopher Kiyota

@whasiankicks

Christopher Kiyota started out with $180 in his pocket and one pair of used shoes to scrub, clean and resell. Then, one pair turned into two. With consistency, dedication and curiosity about the sneaker resale business, the UO sophomore built his business, WhasianKicks, from the ground up, figuring out how to run and manage a reselling business all on his own.

“I feel like for once I was able to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself,” Kiyota said. “Growing up in San Diego, you don’t really see a lot of opportunities to grow as something different than just a student or an athlete.”






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Christopher built his successful business all on his own from the ground up. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Kiyota)


In the fashion world, nothing can quite compare to the competitive demand and almost religious reverence some people have for sneakers. Entrepreneurs like Kiyota have taken advantage of the thriving culture of sneaker reselling, which allows sneakerheads to make a profit from buying and reselling high-demand or rare sneakers.

With over 18,000 followers on Instagram, Kiyota has taken his love for sneakers to new heights by becoming an in-demand sneaker reseller and supplier in Eugene. Drawing in hundreds of customers per day through his social media, Kiyota said he has sold sneakers to countless customers, including fellow UO students and some major names and athletes as well, such as Deebo Samuel and Noah Beck.

His sneakers are kept in a storage unit where customers can set up a reservation to shop in person, but high customer demand can make it overwhelming to manage, he said.

“As it got bigger and bigger, it started to get harder to maintain these people,” Kiyota said. “When you’re getting 120 DM requests per day about shopping, you get so flooded.”

Kiyota plans to open a storefront for WhasianKicks in the downtown Eugene area by January so he can reach more people and provide better customer service.

“I want to have an optimistic influence on people and make sure I create an atmosphere surrounding my business of happiness and memories,” Kiyota said. “Just something along the lines of you’re going to remember it for years to come. It’s not going to be like you remember my name just because of the shoes I sold you, but you remember it because of how it made you feel.”

The bling buff: Emily Roberts

BlackCatsSparkle on etsy

Emily Roberts grew up in the tiny town of Big Bear, California, and spent most of her life there. She moved up to Oregon during the peak of the pandemic, which was a somewhat difficult experience, she said. She had a hard time finding a job in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic as well as making friends during a completely remote first year at the university. Soon enough, Roberts began making jewelry.

She decided to make some earrings with her friend one day for her birthday, and that friend was quick to suggest Roberts start her own Etsy shop with original jewelry pieces. Despite the immediate support for this potential small business venture, she was originally skeptical of the idea.






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Emily has been making artistic pieces since a young age. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started.(Photo courtesy of Emily Roberts.)


“Slowly over time, my family and my friends here and everyone I knew were basically pressuring me to open an Etsy, and I was just like ‘It’s not going to do well guys,’” Roberts said. “But I opened it anyway, and it’s been doing better than I thought.”

Pursuing creative projects and making artsy pieces since she was young, the UO sophomore has used her artistic roots to create her own small business of handcrafted crystal jewelry. She primarily sells her pieces from her online shop on Etsy, BlackCatsSparkle, but also recently began setting up her own stand to sell her creations in person in Salem.

Crafting everything from earrings and bracelets to necklaces and even wreaths, she has seen success with her business in the UO community. She caters to students with fun crystal, skull and mushroom designs, keeps prices inexpensive and delivers to local customers. She has even reached beyond her Etsy shop and sold some of her pieces in the Halicuna Bay Mall in Salem, selling over $60 worth of products on her first day.

“I just really love seeing people wearing my product,” Roberts said. “I adore seeing people around campus and my friends wearing my stuff in their photos. It’s just really rewarding and makes me really happy.”

Her goal is to inspire students and all people to shop locally and from small businesses, a more sustainable, cheaper option that supports good people with good causes.

“If I can make jewelry forever as like a secondary job, that would be fantastic,” Roberts said. “It’s really nice to have that creative outlet; it’s something I can see myself doing for a long time.”

The game day aficionado: Noah Gould

@boxenautzen

A typical Oregon Duck football game is electrified with the energy of thousands of die-hard Duck fans. If you’ve been to a home game recently, especially in the student section, you might have noticed the word Autzen in a green, Supreme-like box logo plastered on the shirts, hoodies and beanies of many students and other fans. If so, you have witnessed the work of UO 2019 graduate Noah Gould and his revitalized game day clothing brand BoxenAutzen.

With a focus on providing gear for football games, Gould was inspired to create his brand when he noticed the large price margin of common game day gear while studying abroad in Italy in the fall of 2017. Being the first time he had interacted with game day outside of Eugene, he had an epiphany.

“Something I noticed quickly was that everyone was wearing the same things,” Gould said. “It was pretty much Nike jerseys and a couple beat tees sprinkled here and there. You’re looking at a beat tee, which they’re giving out for free, and you look at a Nike jersey and they retail for $150.”

Gould realized the majority of game day attire fell on either end of this cost spectrum with no real middle ground. That was the moment he was inspired to fill this gap.

After his time in Italy, his newfound inspiration led him to design some shirts intended to only be worn by his friends. Through the fall of 2018, the orders simply kept coming in, eventually passing 500, Gould said. It was not long before he received backlash from the university’s brand management, claiming he was making a profit by infringing on their word: Autzen. By early 2019, Gould said he received a cease and desist letter from the university to stop his business, and he did.






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Noah Gould, a UO graduate, sports gameday apparel from his Autzen-inspired clothing brand, BoxenAutzen. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Photo courtesy of Henry Ammann)


With a dwindling sense of spirit for the university amid this legal turmoil, he eventually connected with a local manufacturer that had an existing pipeline to get products licensed and to work directly with the university.

“I figured out a way to get my products through this licensing funnel where I can sell products and the university can make royalties off of them,” Gould said.

By the middle of 2020, he finally had UO’s support to sell his product and was receiving sales orders from the Duck Store. Designing from his home in Los Angeles with his production and shipping teams based in Eugene, his business came back in full swing, and Gould has been amazed by the success he’s seen for this season.

“Going into Autzen the night of Nov. 13, I was blown away at how much BoxenAutzen I saw around the stadium,” Gould said. “It’s really rewarding to see it where it’s supposed to be seen — in its natural habitat on a Saturday.”

With plans to grow the business and reach beyond a football focus and branch out into gear for all sports all year round, Gould said he wants his brand to be something that will stick around in five to 10 years. Being immersed in such a large market of Duck fans pouring in year after year motivates him to want to make a bigger impact on UO culture and future generations to come.

“I want to share my love for the Ducks with the world,” Gould said. “I want to make you feel or at least remember what it was to be a student and to be in Autzen with all your best friends on a Saturday.”

A creative spirit, a consistent dedication and a passion for their craft is what set these students apart as individuals who have been making waves in their community and establishing their mark on the world one sale at a time.

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Fashion

Serena Williams’ transformation from tennis champ to fashion icon

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Serena Williams' transformation from tennis champ to fashion icon


5:10am PST, Nov 18, 2021

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