THE BLOG

The Democratisation of Fashion

20/05/2015 21:45 BST | Updated 20/05/2016 10:59 BST

Fashion was always meant to be accessible - it was just the logistics that got in the way.

Wind the clock back 10-15 years. Your typical high street only had space for a limited number of brands, in stores that only had space for a limited number of products. Marketing was limited to costly magazine ads or even more expensive TV slots. The big got bigger. No wonder every high street ended up looking the same.

If you were a new brand looking for a break, good luck to you. You were probably in for a long slog, relying on word of mouth for marketing or on catching the attention of a small number of super-powerful buyers and taste-makers.

If you were a customer looking for something different or "non-standard", then good luck to you too. When capacity is limited, basic economics means everyone tends to the middle ground. Which store would give up 20% of their space to sell maternity clothing? How were you to know there's a tiny boutique on the other side of the country selling exactly what you were looking for?

Fast forward to 2015. Digital has changed everything. Digital fashion is often touted as a victory for convenience - discover, browse and shop wherever you want, whenever you want. But the real winner is choice and access.

In the digital world there's no square footage to optimise and so no limit on the number of brands that can exist side by side or the number of styles they can offer. The dominance of the high street few is no longer. Fashion lovers everywhere can shop from over 800 brands and 75,000 products on ASOS alone - a niche brand from Australia can sit side by side with a UK high street giant and if the product is great and the price is right there's no reason they won't do just as well. And with these elastic walls there's no need for everyone to cluster around the "average" customer. Large, small, tall, short - choice is finally coming your way. Underserved customers are joining the fashion world in droves.

It's not just customers who are benefiting. Never before has it been easier to start a fashion brand. Digital channels mean that from day one you can sell to a global audience. ASOS Marketplace provides a platform for over 800 start-up fashion businesses - wherever you are in the world, however small you are, if your product is right you can sell directly to 9.5m ASOS customers. Some of our boutiques have grown to take hundreds of thousands of pounds within a couple of years and 15 have subsequently been scouted by the ASOS buyers and are now seeing sales in the millions.

If distribution is one part of the puzzle then connecting with new and existing customers is another and digital has turned this upside down too. Social channels mean that suddenly everyone can be a publisher. It's here that consumers are looking for their inspiration and entertainment and new brands can speak directly to millions of potential customers. Unlike the TV or magazine days of old, big budgets are less important than ever - big ideas are what it takes as a new generation of taste-makers are forged.

For our new team of ASOS Stylists, social is their world. They spend their days curating and creating great content to share with the fashion loving audience. This isn't about glorified ads or branded content, but supporting the next generation of creators and taste-makers to create genuine, impartial and relevant content that our twenty-something customers love. It's early days but with almost 600k followers and growing it's really exciting to see where it goes.

So times are changing and a true fashion democracy has arrived. It's never been easier for more people to get more access to more fashion or for more brands to be able to reach a wider audience. Fashion makes people feel great about themselves and it's exciting to see that we've managed to stop logistics and landlords getting in the way of that!