“My view of our industry has completely changed over time,” says Kristina Garrison, Head of Purchasing North America at Spread Group. While fashion was still subject to the prevailing market rules when she studied “Fashion Industry Management”, Kristina has now largely freed herself from this concept. She is certain that the future of fashion will lie in a paradigm shift toward greater sustainability. Kristina Garrison is very much aware of the challenges this will pose to the entire industry. During her work as a buyer in various fashion companies over the past 16 years, she has experienced textile production becoming increasingly more sustainable. As Kristina is now responsible for trend scouting, product selection and product development at Spread Group, she is our expert on the topic of the “future of fashion”.
Spread Group: When looking at the global fashion industry, you may come to believe that there’s an unwritten industry motto that says “cheaper, faster, more.” Is it realistic to believe that this will change?
Kristina Garrison: It is very realistic indeed! The parameters have changed fundamentally. Consumers today are – quite rightly – much more critical and are asking more questions about production conditions. This increases the pressure on our industry to innovate. “Fair, thoughtful, and conscious” will be the motto of the future. At Spread Group, we specialized in fashion classics at an early stage. A good wardrobe is composed of high-quality basics, such as well-cut organic T-shirts and perfectly fitting sweaters that can be combined over and again. My goal for our shopping this year is therefore to offer even more organically produced alternatives in our of our product range. I want our customers to have the maximum variety of choices.
Spread Group: Hand on heart: sustainable fashion often still has the image of bad cuts and pale colors. Will buyers really accept this different kind of fashion?
Kristina Garrison: I often hear the objection of pale colors in sustainable fashion – and I could now name countless products from our range where the colors are just as brilliant as in conventionally produced clothing. On the contrary, there are now new T-shirts made from fibers from recycled water bottles that shine even more vibrantly while being better for the environment. This month we will add the first women’s T-shirt from this technology to our range. We also have some organic products at Spread Group that we’ve been offering for 15 years and which are still in high demand. There’s really no trace of colorless clothing.
Spread Group: The fast pace of the fashion industry is driven by short-term seasonal trends. Will the industry be able to break away from this approach?
Kristina Garrison: Yes and no. As a PoD group of companies, we have shown that you can be more sustainable without major seasonal changes and interim collections. We very consciously expand our range every six months, with around 20 to 30 new products from a current total of 283 articles. In contrast to the big fashion stores, our business model means that we don’t have any sell-outs. And there is still enough room to go with major trends, as the future of fashion would otherwise be too bland. I get inspired by trending colors like the Pantone colors of the year. Whether it’s a trend or a classic, every new product goes through various quality tests before it’s included in our range. We focus on trends that don’t go out of fashion.
Spread Group: That’s the point! What’s trendy today will be discarded tomorrow. In Germany, for example, every fifth item of clothing households is hardly ever worn1. How can fashion companies ensure that customers enjoy their clothes for longer?
Kristina Garrison: For a start, consumer-customized products like the ones we offer have a much stronger connection to the buyer than items designed by others. This is the so-called IKEA effect –items increase in value if they have been designed or created by customers. In addition to product customization, fashion companies also score points with quality and finishing. This is why we will also be offering embroidery on the American market from February onwards. This will open up new design options for our customers. Embroidery doesn’t only look elegant, it’s just as durable as the clothing itself.
Spread Group: Thanks for the interview, Kristina!