How H&M bring the Inside Out with Creator Studio

H&M’s Creator Studio is an on-demand fashion printing platform that allows end consumers to generate their own designs using AI-generated graphics. But the really smart bit is the hidden flywheel effect.

First, here’s the top-line on how the Creator Studio works:

  • Independent brands and individual creatives can produce their own merch, backed by H&M’s manufacturing and distribution infrastructure
  • Stable Diffusion AI is built into the design process to help avoid the ‘blank cursor’ problem or needing to hire external designers. Give a text prompt, get high-end images
  • Creators can plug in their own e-commerce store to maintain direct fan connection

But surely H&M have bigger fish to fry? Why bother with this? Here are 4 of the reasons why:

  • Utilization: They can optimize existing infrastructure and systems that might otherwise sit dormant
  • Data & Insights: Beyond existing H&M customers, they get intel from dozens of brands they’d otherwise have no access to (with A.I. running in the background to help them make better decisions around physical locations, design trends, etc.)
  • Soft power’: They can subtly weave H&M into products sold by the individual creator brands that have ever more  sway and fan connection
  • New revenue streams: By taking a small slice of each order that comes from their network of creators, they open up a whole source of income that didn’t previously exist

Ok, what about that flywheel? I call it the ‘Inside Out’ flywheel - opening up what you already have Inside to drive sustainable growth on the Outside. It has 4 parts:

1) Select existing assets and IP;

2) Augment or remix them with additional tech or media;

3) Package into new products or services;

4) Generate fresh revenue, stories and brand value

This can show up as community programs, education ventures, content initiatives, technology products - you name it…

Figma, Carhartt and Porsche have all been doing building this flywheel over the past year or two - and it looks like H&M are too.

Which other companies could apply the Inside Out flywheel to their business?

P.S. Shout out to Rob Hubbert for putting this on my radar. And while the Creator Studio has been around for a minute, if it’s new to me (or you), it’s still new…

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