Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Longer Business As Usual

A recent piece in Women’s Wear Daily (13 April 2009) speculated on what the new fashion paradigm might look like. Admitting that the industry is “struggling to keep up,” the WWD staff runs through a laundry list of what retailers are facing: cut backs, slow vs. fast fashion concepts, the demise of marketing, overabundance, the nosedive of luxury markets, more distinctive and better targeted merchandise, doing more with less, and so on.

In between, a few designers and retailers make some interesting observations that point toward an exciting future, most notably, Inacio Ribeiro and Andrew Rosen.

Co-designer of Clements Ribeiro: “The consumer is so well-informed today, they don’t want to be told how to buy and they feel conned and manipulated by big flagship stores, and by the disproportionate margins the brands are making. . . . However the consumer will welcome suggestions, and that is the way forward.”

Further on in the article, Andrew Rosen, president and co-founder of Theory, states: “We have to get back to creating innovative product, concepts and merchandising ideas to stimulate and energize the customer. . . . You just can’t get away with making clothes and expecting them to sell. You have to be good at what you do. Clothing is not just a status symbol anymore. There has to be a sense of relevancy to it.”

Oddly, the impact of the internet and the evolving consciousness of the new consumer are otherwise glossed over. In conclusion, the article states: “None of this means companies will outright abandon the strategies and methods that helped them get started in the first place. The future of fashion, however different, seems likely to be based mostly on its present.”

And why are they so sure?

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