Posts Tagged ‘Rue Denim’

Spade Question #3: What’s Missing In Fashion?

01/04/2011
  • Last Week’s Brainstorm: No more prisons.
  • This week’s brainstorm: What’s missing in fashion?

Each week (on Monday) we feature our weekly brainstorm. This week we focus on the fashion industry at large.

What’s missing in the fashion industry that caters to the ever growing need for design differentiation, customization and consumer preference?

About The Fashion Industry

Ask any fashionista and they’ll tell you that fashion definitely ain’t what it used to be. Here’s why:

We got some insights from an article entitled “What’s Wrong With Fashion?” from fashion blogger Tricia Royal.

The economy: If you’ve been following the news over the past few months you’ll know that its no longer the roaring 90s and the American consumer (read: world consumer) is just about tapped out. As credit lines get tightened and families start to cut-back their budgets to within their means, people will be less willing to shell out their dollars each fashion season. This may begin a phase of second-hand shopping for bargain wear.

Not to mention the exorbant prices now demanded for high-end designer wear. Conversely, this may actually help to differentiate the Saks Fifth Avenues from the Stein Marts.

What is interesting is that some people would still rather spend good money of the latest gadgets (think: iPhone) something that ensures long-lasting, practical use, than buy lots of (inevitably) trendy, disposable clothes. It’s not just that the American consumer is tapped out, but that there’s nothing to tap them back in.

Lack of color: Many critics are beside themselves with regard to the schemes and design palates in recent lines. Black seems to be dominant. “People want and connect with color, but designers aren’t offering it” says Royal. “These dark colors for clothing seem almost funereal, and are, interestingly enough, an apt metaphor for the malaise and fear in the air culturally, politically and economically”.

The overhyped fashion industry machine: “Stuff is churned out so fast and slammed into our face so much – via magazines, blogs, websites and the like – we lose sense of what season we’re in and what’s really significant at any given moment stylistically”. Fashion seems to have sped up to the speed of churning out bulk runs of an identical item. As retailers push new, relevant designs out to their floors constantly, pleasing the customer, big designers have a hard time keeping up.

To make up for this glut, the industry “off-kilter delivery cycle puts clothing on the racks and shelves of stores months before a season actually starts. But people want to wear what they buy RIGHT NOW. Why stash it away for later?? Think putting out spring threads in the dead of winter, fall clothes in the heat of summer.”

In the fashion industry people like to see new and upcoming designs or design a selection of their own. What’s missing from the sales-end is the hit-single, the “must-have” item in the market.

So what’s the consumers biggest complaint and what can we expect in the future?

“Clothes are just blah in terms of style (non-comittal, non-novel, bland details). They are made cheaply of cheap materials. People want to feel their buying an item of value” Tricia tells us.

People want to look good and they want to look different and special. The one-model-fits-all-then-outsource-to-China model concept isn’t working anymore. People want diversity, options and fuction. Gucci and Donna Karen are so last century.

In an age where globalization and niche markets are all the rage, a one-off beats the fashion line any day of the month. The problem is that this model requires intense focus on the niche, and dedication to their marketing “NEADS“, as well as the funding necessary to attend to those neads.

In century 21 the consumer rocks, not the fashion artist. Today, you can create an entire line and be celebrated for one unique feature. Once upon a time an item was just an item – all flash, no fire. Today comfort matters (check these out!). Today affordability matters. Today function (durable, wrinkle-free, machine-washable) takes precedence over form. One could add a pocket here, or a flower there but when you put out a line for athletes that absorbs moisture better, or jeans for teenagers who like a tighter fit (if you have Facebook) – that’s a killer!

It seems that people want to design their own clothes more and more. And those who don’t at least want someone who “gets” them. The fashion market – like the music industry and the publishing industry – is customizing, moving gradually away from the industrialized model, and into the new-age phenomenon of long tails.

Today, thanks to the internet, niches can find niches, and anyone can become their local version of Vercace or Aramani. When this happens, while its true that the power-laws still stand strong (yes, Armani will still outsell most generic brands), small time designers (yourself included) may find their niche.

Lastly, the recent phenomenon of earth-friendly greener ways of living will make a deep impact on fashion (see fact #10). In the same vein, the need to express ourselves will have to go in a very different direction than simply believing that “less is more”. Our ethical and moral standard have been shot to hell, along with what the fashion industry has stood for up until the late of last century.

In the near future the attentive designer will outperform the insensitive ones. Everything will be custom to YOU. Glasses that suit YOU. Suits that fit YOU. Fit and preference that matches YOU. Styles and patterns that cater to your personality. Wear that compliments not compromises your convictions.

“What would YOU like to say” will become an industry-wide trademark.

So today our spade question (is it still?) takes on a different nature. Instead of focusing on a specific problem we are brainstorming ideas for future ideas. The question opens the floor to an array of new ideas and we want to hear them!

What’s missing in the fashion industry that caters to the ever growing need for design differentiation, customization and consumer preference?

We want your ideas! And after that, send the link to some friends. Let’s hear what they have to say!

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