The Industrial Age concept of a team is not appropriate for collaboration on the Internet
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Back to the square one position, with no capital and a highly flawed credibility, I knew I'd have difficulty restarting. Fortunately, the reputation of Street Theatre's success carried some influence and I was invited to take a sales unit in a new, high fashion, market style store that was opening up in Kensington High Street. It was the early 1980's and London was regarded as the leading fashion design capital of the world and sported hundreds of new trendy designers. Most of these up and coming designers were invited to take sales units in this new, market style, store that was named "Hyper-Hyper".
The store was an immediate success; the presence of so many fashion designers under one roof was a great attraction. However, for each individual designer it was a highly competitive situation: their creations had to be chosen by customers who were choosing from among a vast selection of other designs For me, it was an even greater challenge because I'd lost all my information infra-structure of designers that had worked so well at Street Theatre". I found myself in the midst of over one hundred of the most creative designers in the world and had to compete with them for sales.
I was still working with the experienced dressmaker who suggested that we made a range of classic evening dresses. This didn't require any special design flair or knowledge of current fashion trends. Unfortunately, these dresses were lost in the vast range of other possibilities being offered by the other designers. Sales were pathetically low. To help pay the rent and overheads, I brought in a small jewellery counter and started to sell pieces of costume jewellery to go with the dresses.
It was then that I realised what an opportunity I had. I'd lost my contacts from the London Club scene, but, because of the draw of the many exciting designers in "Hyper Hyper" , all the trendy London Club people were coming to this high profile store and walking right past our costume jewellery counter. All I had to do, to find out what the latest fashions were, was to observe all the fashionably dressed people who were passing by.
Not having the resources to build up a range of dresses, I concentrated on the costume jewellery. The trick was to pick out the fashion leaders from the fashion followers. With the help of the sales girl and the dress maker, we "spotted" various fashionable trends in jewellery accessories. There was no possibility of being able to manufacture these items, so, I went to the fashion wholesale area in London where many middlemen were dealing in costume jewellery. At the time, most of these specialist wholesalers were located in and around Berwick Street, just south of the main London shopping area of Oxford Street.
By diligently searching through the stocks of all the wholesalers, I could find items of costume jewellery that corresponded to the fashion items I'd spotted the fashion leaders wearing. The fashion leaders who visited Hyper Hyper at that time included many famous pop stars, movie and television personalities and even Princess Diana - who at the time, was living just a few hundred yards from the store, in Kensington Palace.
It wasn't long before our jewellery counter started to attract attention. Even the fashion leaders themselves started to recognise that we were stocking the latest fashions and pretty soon we had a string of regular customers.
The items that sold, we replaced with identical items from the wholesalers. Those that didn't sell, we sold off at cost. In this way the overall, high fashion quality of our jewellery counter got better and better. Also, we found there was no longer any need to have to rely solely on spotting what the fashion leaders were wearing. They started to come to us, asking for things they wanted.
Very soon, the fashion magazines found out about our costume jewellery counter. Fashion editors and their assistants were constantly visiting Hyper-Hyper to borrow clothes for fashion shoots for their publications. Invariably, they would need some high fashion jewellery accessories to go with the clothes. They would come for these accessories to our jewellery counter and we found ourselves in more fashion magazines and with more credits than any other designer in the place.
Not only did the jewellery sell well, by association, the customers were starting to look at the dresses. It seemed reasonable to them that if this unit was selling the most fashionable and up to date jewellery it must also be selling the most up to date and fashionable ladies evening wear. It wasn't long before our evening dresses were being worn by all kinds of pop stars, movie and television personalities and began appearing in the pages of all the top fashion magazines.
All this, with no planning, virtually no overheads and no organization. It was an event driven, customer designed system that was self-organising. A solution created as a result of an evolutionary design strategy.