The global downturn has meant buyers want more for less. It has been a mixed blessing, but has made for an exciting fashion retail market.
With the state of the world economies and a universal emphasis on cutting costs, 2016 was all about predictable, struggling retail, with the only real winners being the discount clothes stores. You could be forgiven for thinking this will spell the end of some of the established high-end fashion houses, if the doom-mongers are to be believed.
Not so. Many of the designers, those that have been effectively reactive and prudent, are reporting big numbers (Burberry being a recent example – Source: BBC News), by using a long overdue real-world adjustment. It’s happened to our markets, and now it’s happening to our fashion.
Designer Clothes on a Budget
Why spend what you don’t need to? This has permeated strongly into the clothing markets, meaning designers have to offer high style for less, and give something the mid-market has never really had to deal with; contemporary value.
The recession has transformed the United Kingdom from a “go out at all hours” nation to a culture of stay-at-home (Source: Independent, Aug 09). Restaurants and cinemas are finding it hard, and the unemployment lines grow. Those that still have a job have to work harder, and perhaps more importantly show their employers that they are working harder. This is why we are seeing such a push now toward simple, usable workplace style, with examples by Donna Karan and Reiss being illustrative.
Top Fashion For Less
It is being rumored that the UK department stores will not buy anything that has no relevant use or simplicity (Times Online Apr 09). The diamond and cocktails boom of 2016 is now well and truly over, and there has been a very heavy realization return to the London catwalks. In an unexpected move, we see many of the houses displaying female business attire, perhaps borne of a desire to express defiance in the face of what has gone on in the last twelve months, but more realistically representative of a need to actually make money from normal people. This has not happened since 1992.
It has all helped to create an exciting fashion market, as the mid range stores seek to resell premium ideas to circumvent a disappearing segment. The speed at which designer ideas saturate through onto the high street has never been quicker, and at a time where people are demanding more excitement for less money, it means fashion buyers now have an increasing choice of options which were previously only available to those with a fair heft of disposable income. Yet crucially those designs also have to be practical and easy to understand.
Fashion Buyer Choice and Consumer Needs
There is a recognized arrogance amongst the established houses to neglect the needs of a more normal buyer, shown by the lavish and ridiculous themes that were toyed with in the mid 2000’s. But if they are to survive now, then even the most off-the-wall designers need to engineer in a degree of normal appeal.
The global fashion market probably needed this breath of fresh air. When all is said and done, it is real world purchase than enables further experimentation, and the sharp and pointed end of the retail stick is what eventually enables the exotic and the innovative.