What does scale mean in the fashion industry today? Globalization has radically reshaped the possibilities for brands to reach more people than ever before. But scaling globally requires meticulously managing a brand to ensure it does not default on its promise. Just because a brand can scale doesn’t mean it should.

The Scale Series explores how brands have scaled successfully and unsuccessfully in the fashion industry. Part I dives into the funding climate that got us to a place with an abundance of capital looking for outsized returns. Part II looks at brands that unsuccessfully scaled and ruined the brand along the way. Part III explores brands that have successfully scaled while keeping their brand intact. Part IV proposes a new framework for scaling a fashion brand globally without cratering the brand in the process. And Part V offers some closing thoughts on the power of small businesses and small-scale entrepreneurship.

This series took four months to put together and clocks in at over 11,000 words between the five parts. I hope you enjoy!

Richie

The Scale Series — Part I: How and why brands overscale


A person starts a business to grow it. The general goal is to earn some revenue, and then some more revenue, and then lots and lots of revenue, while being profitable along the way. The process of getting there is often called scaling the business, with different definitions of what scale is. 

The Scale Series — Part II: Brands that overscaled


In Part I, we looked at the factors that both businesses and brands need to consider when scaling. With this foundation, we'll now examine some of the failures and some of the successes in the fashion industry. This piece will look at the former, while Part III will look at the latter.

The Scale Series — Part III: Brands that have endured


In Part II we looked at brands that have overscaled their promise. Now, we'll examine successful fashion brands that have balanced their creative and commercial aspirations over the long term, which allows the strength of a brand to compound.

The Scale Series — Part IV: Localized Luxury


The early 2000s were full of brands launching adjacencies, some of which we looked at in Part II and Part III. Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Burberry and many others created endless diffusion lines and offshoots that tried to take the spirit and cache of the mother brand and infuse it into sister brands that sold lower priced products. While some of this worked, many brands also struggled as they…

The Scale Series — Part V: Bigger isn’t always better


Part I of this series explored the capital conditions that got us to a place where many brands swung for the fences, while Part II and Part III investigated some of the successes and failures in this growth environment. Part IV proposed a new framework for scaling brands globally while keeping them potent. Finally, it’s worth talking about the idea of scale itself. That itch that many…