Tuesday 7 June 2016

Making It Socially with Simon James Cathcart

Ethical fashion would not be the growing phenomenon it is, I think, had a couple of factors not come into play within a short period. The first, of course, is social media. The ability to talk to a wide audience, to share news and ideas with like-minded people across the globe has been a huge boon for the cause, opening up closed and opaque systems and letting us see the truth behind the fashion industry spin.

With social media comes the idea of community. A shared set of interests will always have us gathering in groups. From there we can see the short step it takes to using the influence that many people can have when they work together in new and interesting ways. In the 19th century, with the advent of cheap publishing, we ended up with the union movement. That great push for change still resonates today, and indeed social media has had a hand in bringing unionisation to previously closed shops in the Third World.

In the 21st century, crowdfunding has become a way to get products and services onto a global stage in a way that could never have been imagined even forty years previously. If you have a good idea and the potential to get it to market, it’s easier than ever to get the funding you need by effectively selling the product in advance. Obviously there can be downsides to this approach, and it’s a rare Kickstarter customer that hasn’t been burned with a late or non-existent product. That’s part of the risk, but the rewards benefit everyone.

Which brings us to Simon James Cathcart, who has taken the best of both social media and crowdfunding to bring his sharp spin on contemporary men’s clothing to light. Simon uses his enthusiastic band of followers to help dictate the path of his seasonal collections, with the understanding that they will then pledge to get them to market. He uses a good old-fashioned forum on his website to help build that sense of community and interest in the clothes. Users chat, share ideas and enthusiastically get involved.

In some ways, what Simon does works in the same way as bands and artists like Marillion or Amanda Palmer, embracing a core audience with the understanding that they will cheerfully invest in any new project. It’s a concept called The Long Tail, and if you have or can develop a fan base it works brilliantly.

It helps, of course, that Simon has already made a name for himself with his sharply-tailored modern takes on classic men’s apparel. He’s taken a smart approach to building on the momentum, striding off in a direction that other creative types in the fashion field could do well to emulate. After all, why give a chunk of your profits to Kickstarter when you can do it all yourself? For more, and to perhaps express an interest in Simon James Cathcart’s A/W 2016 collection, hit up


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