I read with interest an article in The Australian newspaper this week (22 March 2011) which featured the ‘Sportsgirl Likes’ collections. In Australia, Sportsgirl as a younger woman’s fashion brand, occupies an enduring and esteemed positioning, the result of not sitting on its laurels. The Sportsgirl Likes collections is testimony of the brand’s capacity to look to the future. The collections provide Sportsgirl with a potent vehicle for fostering young design talent, and the same time injecting interest and currency into their brand.
The inspiration starts with the Sportsgirl sponsored National Graduate Showcase that is part of Melbourne’s Fashion Festival. The sponsored showcase celebrates the creative talents of young designers and importantly provides an opportunity for Sportsgirl to observe first hand designers that have the potential to shape the next wave of fashion. However, Sportsgirl is anything but a passive observer in this event, it is actively screening the talent on show to select two or three designers that they would like to collaborate with to create a collection to be marketed under the Sportsgirl Likes range. The collaboration is a rich experience for the young designers selected as they get access to almost every resource available within the Sportsgirl organisation, with no creative restrictions placed on the products they design for the business. They get to strut their stuff with huge support, but in a context that has commercial realities attached to it. The designers have the creative license to create a collection that will be relevant and accessible to the Sportsgirl target market. It is a test in realism as well as well as design, as the product needs to sell through.
Naomi Milgrom, owner and Group Chairwoman of the the Sussan Group which owns Sportsgirl, positions the program as a simply a demonstrative commitment to foster young Australian design talent. It is not assessed on a financial basis, rather as giving young designers with first hand experience in balancing design and creativity against the commercial needs of business. It’s stated purpose while being noble to the last thread, is also a superbly intelligent brand gesture. Too often the community minded programs pursued by brands are unrelated to the positioning of the brands that sponsor them. Our view is that there are enough ‘causes’ in the world to ensure that the one’s championed are relevant to the brand. For Sportsgirl, design is fundamental to the brand and thus the Sportsgirl Likes program is a superb way to generously support young up and coming designers, at the same time generously inject something fresh and vibrant into the brand’s offering. It is an intelligent brand gesture that sits comfortably with a market leadership position.
If the fashion collections that result are not your look, perhaps your focus should be on driving out community inspired brand gestures that have a hand in glove fit with your own brand. Why not?
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