Fashion is a fast moving business. So the fashion retailer that manages to successfully reinvent itself over time is very clever. One fine example of fashion reinvention at work is River Island. Established back in 1948 and remaining a private company right to this day, River Island managed to move on from its somewhat outdated image just a few years ago into one of today’s leaders in high street fashion. So how did it do that?
You can’t talk about the River Island success story without mentioning Rihanna. The super-cool pop star was spotted wearing some key River Island pieces when she was out and about and this led to a hugely exciting collaboration which reaped rewards both for River Island and Rihanna. In fact, the retailer’s sales grew by 4% to £839m in the year they launched the Rihanna for River Island collection! This partnership was a great example of River Island’s trick of tuning into what matters to its potential customers. The retailer continues to benefit from collaborations – more recently with up and coming young designers – a great way to keep their brand fresh and exciting.
What we really notice about the River Island story is the way the company keeps on innovating, whether that’s in its strategy, style or technology. It’s always keeping tabs of what shoppers want. Just one example is the hugely successful mini-me collection, created in response to changing trends in the clothes that parents choose for their children. But here’s the thing. They don’t rest on their laurels. River Island are now launching a new and exclusive collection of clothes for children from newborns to five years old in collaboration with a French model and style icon, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld. Then there’s their launch of a new fuller figured clothing collection – again, keeping in touch with changing shopper tastes. Oh, and then there’s their announcement of a launch of a new menswear basics range…
Great retailers are the ones actively making life in-store more interesting and convenient for their customers. Look at River Island’s “Click and don’t collect” concept which is based on its research into shopper behaviour. Or witness its more recent partnership with Snapchat to launch first of its kind ‘Snap & Share’ campaign activated in-stores, just another clever way in which River Island keeps up with the appetite for visual media. We also love the fashion calculator the company created to allow people to find out what type of shopper they are!
When you look a bit closer at River Island, sure, their products have changed a lot and their ranges have grown. But that’s only part of the story. The true secret of their success lies in how they well connected they are with their audience. Keeping up with changing tastes, trends and behaviour in shopping is what has kept this fashion name ahead of the pack.
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