7 For All Mankind recently started a series of new company strategies to face Covid difficulties and meet new consumers’ needs and lifestyles. Suzanne Silverstein, president of 7 For All Mankind, explained to SI where the brand is heading as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.
What are the most important strategies 7FAM has been working on?
We have been working at different levels to follow a series of important corporate programs. On the one side we have refreshed our product offerings according to the changed habits of the consumers, though we also started a sustainable platform to set a clear road map while offering more responsibly made products.
We also developed a series of projects aimed at supporting retail–not only focused on e-commerce–while helping our employees’ skills development.
And we have launched our first global campaign “We Are Made for This” bringing together inspiring individuals from around the globe to highlight seven values that have shaped the company throughout its 20-year history.
How is 7FAM performing right now?
We all suffer from the same thing–the global pandemic. We are seeing that obviously the lowest point was Q2. Business was down more dramatically than we could possibly imagine. I sensed that we have seen, particularly in the last 16 weeks, a nice progressive improvement–specifically about our resort week. Obviously the trend is now toward a double-digit improvement.
Our e-commerce was also very strong with a double-digit growth and we are pleased about that as our two new Tech and Coated programs are performing very well in our stores. So again we are seeing some light.
As a response to the shifts in men’s day-to-day dressing, we launched the first ever Tech Series.
The Tech Pant is our first technical and performance pant and allows men to look sleek while remaining comfortable during long workdays at home. It’s a perfect car-to-meeting, work-to-weekend, sport-friendly pant made with a water-repellant, wrinkle-resistant and a tech stretch fabric for comfort and mobility.
In tandem with it we also launched our Coated Denim series for women. As we have seen a shift in consumer shopping habits and many women are resorting to loungewear we wanted to offer coated jeans that our customers can wear at the home office as they are really comfortable, but also for a drink as they are appropriate for each of these occasions.
These products seem less focused on denim than usual. Is this a new direction for 7FAM?
For us they are part of our brand’s DNA innovation. To us whether it’s denim or non-denim it is about innovation. With Tech in particular we were really looking for a men’s non-denim program, a cool add-on when a customer buys another pair of denim at the same time. It’s a way to build out more 7FAM in his wardrobe.
The Coating program for women is again an add-on as mentally it is like leather. It’s another add-on not in place of a pair of blue denim that she has been wearing on the weekend. So it’s innovation that gives the customer another reason to buy the brand and we will continue to innovate with our denim fabrics and different treatments as they give a customer a reason to buy.
We are selling through 1,200 multibrand stores and 57 retail stores in the US; in Europe we sell through 28 multibrand stores and 17 monobrand stores. In Latin America we sell through 72 multibrands and five monobrands, while in Asia through 23 monobrand and 10 multibrand stores.
Probably our most important project from a global perspective is our "Sustainable for all Mankind" platform. Last fall I created a sustainability task force meant to fix the criteria for its activities. Among its pillars there is the aim to build measurable criteria that could be achieved throughout Europe and the US. The project was launched in May 2020 and outlines the brand’s goal of 80% of 7FAM’s products having sustainable properties by the year 2023. 7FAM has introduced its first sustainable styles in spring 2020 with the “080 series” which is based on the jean that 7FAM launched with in 2000.
While our e-commerce registered a growth we also wanted to support some of our partners through our Community 7 project. This in-store program involved local stores that could host upcoming artists who could also sell their pieces in our stores, while creating interesting areas within each store’s environment.
We have also started 7U, an internal education program that leverages the experts in our company to teach classes to the rest of the organization. The program has recently been adapted to in-store associates so they have the opportunity to grow in their fields and learn the ins and outs of the industry. These efforts are meant to promote cross-functional interaction, understanding and teamwork and ultimately create a deeper understanding of topics that are foundational to the brand’s business. Some of the topics were marketing, e-commerce, retail math, buying and information on denim.
How did 7FAM face difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic within the value chain when, for instance, many brands didn’t collect products from their suppliers?
Obviously we were getting lots of cancellations from our wholesale customers and our stores were not able to accept deliveries. So the first thing we did was to identify products that could have been repurposed in another season, for example a summer white denim bottom was repurposed as inventory we could sell in resort 2020 or in spring ’21. We certainly had to recalibrate our buys for our factories. If we could not cut at least we reduced to be less damaging to all of our partners. For instance, where we could, we reduced orders that we had not placed in advance. Or in other cases, when possible, if we canceled an order of fabrics we were repurposing that fabric later….
We also launched operation Dynamo, an internal program where 7FAM repurposed Available To Sell (ATS) styles to create trend-driven product in an expedited way. We just focused on creativity and tried to think outside of the box and dealing with a situation none of us could have imagined or ever dealt with before. We also do have tremendous relationships in wholesale with our off-price partners and we also have outlets in our retail fleet for inventories you are not able to sell at full price.
How will the fashion and jeanswear markets evolve in the future?
I do think that comfort–being driven by specific categories like athleisure, pajamas and sweats–will continue to be really important. We start to evolve away from that as people are starting to socialize again but I do think that comfort will still be on top of their mind. I don’t know if people will be in their offices quite as fast.
However I think that fashion and novelties will be more important than ever before because we have to always give consumers a reason to buy. But as people are eager to go out again I think that return-to-life clothing will certainly be a portion of what we do particularly for our fall and holiday seasons.
People will return to buy when they will feel safe again. By fall or holiday next year things will get back to normal again.