The phrase “small is beautiful”, coined by economist EF Schumacher relates to the idea that while bigger is often thought of as more profitable, it’s not always better. As the fashion world recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a noticeable shift in consumer habits, changing the way we think about what we wear.
Over the last few years, things haven’t been easy for small businesses. According to the World Economic Forum, small businesses were hit hardest by the pandemic, with 34% closing between January 2020 and May 2021. The fashion industry is no exception, with a 20% dip in revenue between 2019 and 2020 overall, despite discount and luxury designer clothing managing to outperform competitors throughout 2020.
While larger luxury brands tend to get more airtime, smaller brands offer more variety, quality and personalization – but if that wasn’t enough to convince you, here are a few more reasons why you should support smaller fashion brands.
They’re Leading the Way
With smaller business brands, often there’s also a greater focus on sustainability and ethical practices, both major topics in recent times. Mass-produced clothing made under unethical conditions comes cheap, but often at great cost, both to the planet and to people making the product itself. While smaller brands often find it hard to be heard above the goliaths of the fashion industry, on this occasion, they’re showing them how it’s done.
A 2021 report by fashion non-profit Remake uncovered a “mindset shift” among smaller fashion brands. Overall, a focus on quality over quantity (and people above profit) yields long-term positives: from fairly-paid workers to sustainable textiles keeping Co2 levels down to a minimum. All this demonstrates that when brands are willing to take accountability and make continued efforts to improve, everyone along the production line can benefit.
Supporting Homegrown Businesses
Historically, America has long been a nation of entrepreneurs following their chosen dream. To date, 99.9% of all U.S. companies qualify as small businesses. By supporting local fashion brands, you’re helping to make that dream come true.
Small businesses also help enrich the local community (breaking up the landscape of identikit chain stores), and offer a boost to the local economy through creating employment and income. The benefits to the community can help support local amenities too: since local tax income offers a boost to local governments, helping to improve schools, mend roads and fix public services.
Hidden Gems and Rare Fashion Finds
If someone compliments you on an item of clothing or jewelry and asks where you bought it, there’s a good chance they’re mentally bookmarking that information for a future shopping trip. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s something special about owning a limited edition, unique piece.
Greater diversity within the market also leads to more originality, as independent designers tend to have a little more artistic license. This allows them to take risks in their work, creating beautiful, unique pieces that you won’t find at the mall.
A More Personalized Service
Independent businesses tend to have smaller, more concentrated groups of staff who aren’t just there for the paycheck; they genuinely care about what they do and the service they provide, focusing on the needs of individual customers rather than mass appeal at the expense of quality. Due to a shorter supply chain, customers can also expect a high quality of service and ease of access when you need to make queries.