Stateless Group announces incubator to empower talent in fashion – WWD
Having extra time during the pandemic was the top reason for starting a business during COVID-19, according to new data from Zapier. But new businesses continue to experience growing pains.
In a bid to help mission-driven apparel start-ups overcome some of these most common pains, Stateless Group, the expert fashion design and development company that has launched more than 85 brands, is unveiling a incubator for entrepreneurs.
“At Stateless, we aim to democratize the fashion landscape by supporting brands that make a positive impact,” said Managing Director Stefanie Tacata. “Launching an incubator program is a natural next step and builds on our mission to lower the barrier to entry for apparel start-up founders by providing access to resources, network and knowledge. niche expertise needed to successfully launch a brand.”
The goal of the program is to democratize the fashion landscape where Stateless Group operates much like a clothing record label, providing structure and support for emerging talent. Stateless will support two brands per cohort for one year with a structured program including the services needed to bring the garments to market. Under the program model, founders will be able to streamline operations and save on the cost of hiring while mitigating risk.
According to Tacata, while small business owners have always faced insurmountable challenges breaking into the industry, the ripple effect of the pandemic has created even more challenges that need to be overcome.
“These challenges are first and foremost about supply chain and procurement,” Tacata said. “Smaller brands are already limited in factory partner options due to their need for small minimum order quantities, but they now compete with more established brands for factory attention and priority. That means eventually lead times are longer for small brands. Reputable factories have become more selective in the brands they choose and negotiations over costs and terms have become a bit more difficult. Small brands rely on fabrics and trims available in stock to produce their lines, as customizing fabrics is expensive and prohibitively expensive.
As supply chain and freight issues continued, Tacata told WWD that she’s seen material options available in stock dwindle while increasing costs — a huge problem since founders of small businesses are typically limited by capital and network.
“Our cross-functional team has extensive experience in the corporate fashion industry, providing our clients with the global expertise and access needed for small brands to launch successfully and for established brands to grow with success,” Tacata said. “Stateless stays ahead of industry-wide challenges while continuing to foster good relationships with reputable vendors and agencies so our customers get the attention and priority they deserve. might not have themselves. We also consult along the way so our customers learn the ins and outs of product development and production. In these turbulent times, we know how to troubleshoot and pivot strategies so that any new obstacles are not fatal. »
Meanwhile, Tacata told WWD during the pandemic that she’s also seen emerging brands struggle as they emphasize wholesale as a strategy to build brand equity aimed at focusing on its core business of direct-to-consumer sales.
“This means that they are developing products with margins intended for d-to-c, but with a willingness to sacrifice those margins for the wholesale market. Due to the high barrier to entry for large retailers, emerging brands are increasingly working with hyper-local stores to reach a new market,” Tacata said. “Often these local brick-and-mortar retailers don’t specialize in selling apparel, but have expanded their offerings as part of a post-pandemic recovery strategy.”
“Without a vast network of strategic and creative expertise and significant start-up capital, it is extremely difficult to launch an apparel brand,” Tacata said. “Our goal with the incubator is to reduce this barrier to entry for entrepreneurs as much as possible. We want to give founders who are passionate about their missions a place to turn – a place where they have the opportunity to succeed and bring meaningful brands to market.
At the same time, Tacata said the market has seen notable changes over the past two years. While initially Stateless Group saw a majority of emerging brands in loungewear, sportswear and outdoor space enter the market due to the lifestyle paradigm shift, in 2021 it will There was a shift towards brands that aimed to anticipate the market needs of a post-pandemic world.
And looking at entrepreneurs, Tacata said, “There has been a tendency to emphasize the brand story, showcasing the founder’s own human experience through the product, attempts at differentiation through a innovative product based on singular or small capsules and travel clothes. Additionally, a nod to eco-consciousness and sustainability has become the norm, not a differentiator. As we court approximately 15 emerging apparel brands per week, we get unique and special insight into how the market is changing and how entrepreneurs are simultaneously guiding and responding to that change.
Notably, through its incubator program, Stateless will focus on collaborative experiences and services for growth. Selected incubator candidates will have access to Stateless Group’s ecosystem of leading service providers, structured programs and a network of resources to make their brands work.
Resources include brand and product design/development, production management, access to a global network of manufacturers, marketing, public relations, business mentoring and capital strategy.
The Incubator Program includes a First Look Agreement with Neiman Marcus Group where members of the Neiman Marcus Merchant Team will be available to review an entrepreneur’s line and provide feedback.
Other partnerships include Investable for capital strategy, Squareshot for product photography, Forte for photo and video productions, Bella + Canvas for product support, Fifty Six for e-commerce and digital marketing, and Small Girls PR for public relations.
Long-term, the company’s vision is to build a diverse team of mission-driven brands that can fuel each other and help evolve the fashion industry.