Direct To Consumer: The Only Chance For Emerging Fashion Brands

When Barney’s closed in late 2019, it signified the beginning of the end for retail and wholesale giants. No one could have predicted the effect COVID-19 would have on fashion brands, but with the closing of such an iconic store before the pandemic even hit, we should have foreseen the impending shift. 

Pre-pandemic, department stores like J.C. Penney and Macy’s were already in less than ideal situations. First quarter reportings for 2020 are only getting worse for the retail giants.

According to Wink News, J.C. Penny reported an operating loss of $477 million. As for Macy’s, they saw a staggering $3.58 billion first-quarter loss and a 45.2% decline in sales, according to Sourcing Journal. Not to mention, Nordstrom closing stores and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy.

So what does this mean for emerging fashion brands who used to rely on these retailers as a way of getting their name out there? The solution is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) and social selling strategy. It’s the only chance for emerging fashion brands to survive in this rapidly changing world. 


Many young fashion brands are now facing an industry in transition, where the biggest retailers, once their lifeline, are struggling to survive in the pandemic. 

In a recent article from Vogue Business, Mark A. Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University’s Business School, was quoted saying, “Emerging fashion brands that were looking for support from retailers should be very wary of seeking exposure and sales from those platforms, as an enormous number of them are now closed. Further, they are unable to forecast an opening date, unable to credibly predict when this pandemic will be truly over, and, most critically, in potentially critical shape financially.”

It is now more important than ever for fashion brands to forge a pathway to customers on their own. Some brands haven’t taken direct-to-consumer seriously, and that will have to change — and fast.


When non-essential retail was closed, customers didn’t suddenly disappear. They simply shifted to the digital space. With retail giants no longer a viable or secure option for most emerging fashion brands, now is the time to shift the bulk of business to direct-to-consumer and invest heavily in digital marketing.

In fact, according to eMarketer’s predictions, in 2020 DTC sales will grow by 24.3% compared to 2019, to an estimated $17.75 billion.

What was once believed to be unattainable in a strategy to sell direct to consumers, now more than ever is an actual, cost effective option. How, you ask? Through social selling. According to a recent article from Forbes, for many of us, anxious about returning to stores in the way we used to frequent them, social selling is becoming the way of shopping of choice.

Through paid social campaigns, not only are you leveraging your brand to increase traffic to your site, thus increasing online conversions, but you are also offering consumers a new way to shop, by never leaving their favorite social app. The power of social media combined with a superior on site experience, should be the focus of emerging fashion brands as we enter this new marketplace.


If you know anything about us here at Milked Media, you know that we believe in building genuine communities for our clients. Among other strategies in the DTC space, this should be one of the top focuses for emerging fashion brands. 

Using a multichannel sales approach that utilizes social media as well as a brand’s online presence and email marketing allows emerging fashion brands to create an engaged community of loyal fans and customers. And that’s what we’re all after anyways, isn’t it? Lifetime fans. Not just the one off purchase, but lifetime fans are what sustain a DTC brand. 

Emerging fashion brands should prioritize finding their voice. By finding your unique voice, it helps to not only show your audience what you stand for, but also helps to develop a core audience who truly loves what you do.

Direct To Consumer: The Only Chance For Emerging Fashion Brands

Ready to talk about a DTC and social selling strategy for your fashion brand?