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Denham: Balancing data with creativity

Built on the mantra to worship tradition and destroy convention, Denham has become a global denim (and lifestyle) brand that celebrates jeans as a part of our culture, whilst constantly reinventing and innovating.

WGSN Analytics sat down with Denham’s Global Merchandising Director, Steve Brown, to discuss the importance of data in fashion, sustainability and the future direction of the industry. Watch and read on below for the highlights of our conversation.

As a global brand, your role is really dynamic – can you tell us more about what you do?

I manage both aspects of product development and merchandising. So product development is the usual, managing of the global vendor base, the margins, the F.O.B.s, the building of collections from design up to salesman sample. So proto-reviews, sampling, negotiations. And then the merchandising is actually a new aspect in the business, so that’s really working with our global markets and the complexity, using data as well, to really make sure that we home in on the collection and making sure that all of our global regions are taken into account.

What’s your biggest challenge today?

I think the key one is making sure that you keep all your global regions happy, making sure that you align each market’s needs but keeping true to brand strategy. Aligning fits, keeping the core essentials for Germany, whilst keeping even more of the fashion essentials we would like for Asia. It allows design to be a lot more flexible in their design ethos, but it’s definitely a challenge to make sure everyone is aligned but in keeping with that brand strategy.

Where do you get your insight, to get that balance right?

Data is a bit of a buzz at the moment, literally I think in the last 5 years about 94% of the worlds data has actually just been collated, so it’s such a new thing but it brings so many insights. So if your data says actually 80% of your sales come from 10 fabrics…so if you know that 10 of those fabrics are what you want going forward, that will then allow you to be a lot more directive with your markets and with the collection. If you get the good data you’re really able to home in on where you need to be.

Does data kill creativity?

I think it’s the foundation to your business to know where you actually are with your data. Creative freedom is super important and that should always be the case, but allow that to be one aspect of building the collection. Creative freedom, but data to support where it needs to go. For me it definitely doesn’t kill creativity, it enhances it.

How do you approach sustainability?

We use Candiani denim, 70% of our business is using them and they are one of the world’s most sustainable denim mills in Milan, so it’s definitely something we look at all the time. We also produce locally in Japan for our markets, so it’s more sustainable with the carbon footprint, we’re really then able to make sure that each of our region’s businesses and the technical innovations are really looked at in a sustainable way as well.

What do you think will be key for the future of the industry?

I think in the future it will be more about personalisation, personalised fashion, personalised fits. There’s apps out there now that will actually tell you what type of garment you should have based on your lifestyle. I think fits is really repetitive business, if the fit is right, you know where you can go. You know that every time you go to that store, so I think that online is the key at the moment, so these kind of personalised apps, personalised businesses, creating garments uniquely for you, that is the way forward, and also it will help reduce sustainability issues that we see on wastage.

Find out more about WGSN Analytics, helping fashion businesses optimise trading in a digital-first competitive landscape by combining data analytics and specialist fashion insight.

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