You Can't Make Everybody Happy...So Find Your Niche

“Connect Yourself” print in Sunrise with hand embroidery by Alyson Toone 2019

“Connect Yourself” print in Sunrise with hand embroidery by Alyson Toone 2019

I’m a 90s girl. I loved Delia’s and Claire’s. And of course I loved The Gap. The Gap was/is a mall staple. It is the brand that aims to be everything to all people. With its t-shirts and denim jeans it was iconically American and democratic. That was wonderful…for the 90s. Not so wonderful in the internet age. 

Those t-shirts in The Gap looked like a new concept to people not connected by a world wide web of possibility. With the internet people could access global trends. This kind of hurt stores like The Gap because now being everything to all people meant a lot of effin’ people. You can’t make everyone happy. 

But you can make small groups of people happy. And the internet is wonderful for carving out niches. Someone in LA could be in a niche group with someone in Des Moines and they have discussions with someone in rural Germany all about the same subjects. They may enjoy the same sort of humor, music and even the same colors. No, not all of these people are heading to the same brick and mortar mall to buy their clothes. But they are visiting similar online retailers. Hopefully that retailer has international shipping.

Being a niche brand also means smaller collections. New ideas can be tested in smaller collections. If something works you can create a lot of it. If something doesn’t you can easily scrap it. Very cost effective.

You can find your actual end user doing their thing in real time. You no longer have to make up a composite woman that is based on outdated demographics or assumptions. You can now see that your customer comes in all shapes, sizes and complexions. 

Smaller markets mean smaller profits. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it means more opportunity for new designers to carve a niche for themselves.