Thinking about fashion trends.
A fashion analysis and forecasting 2019
During the coming months, now the four weeks of shows is over, many trends will start to circulate and many thoughts and ideas will thrown in the air.
Glossy magazines love to do the nice neat clear trends, like Tartan, Tweed, Pleated Skirts, and that is perfectly fine and great for the readers and, in theory anyway, it shifts product. What about the big trends though, the changes in the overall mood and changes in product emphasis, which means that business itself is shifting, and requires in depth analysis?
Sarah Mower; the brilliant journalist and Vogue contributor, as well as future talent spotter and supporter, is looking at the return of tailoring and a shift away from so much emphasis on sportswear. This is of major importance as it could mean a huge upheaval for those brands, names and houses whose focus is 100% on sports, leisure and casual clothing.
Tailoring requires an entirely different starting point and from pattern through fabric to merchandising is nothing like as easy as
a hoodie or track pants. Sarah reports disagreements with her belief, perhaps by those who clearly don’t look far enough ahead, or at the bigger picture. Tailoring IS returning, and it’s useless to fight it.
This kind of “head in the sand” attitude was also emphasised by The Times London admitting that skinny jeans had not responded to fashion editors declaring them “dead”, but have continued to thrive with consumers…
The trend I would like you to observe and consider is, small versus large, local versus global. The controlled and manageable, as opposed to the huge machine which needs to fill every standalone boutique and stockist. This must mean that the brand is driven to supply for supplies sake, rather than supplying with consideration and an editorial eye. Trying to be all things to all people, offering New York, Kolkata, Kiev and Paris exactly the same trends and products, or if not, investing in the exhausting logistics of artificial merchandising to individual stores.
In the 1970’s the rise of internationalism in fashion, as a major trend, was predicted whereby the same stores stocking the same merchandise would be global. Homogenisation and the standardisation of fashion, especially at the luxury end was strongly predicted. All luxury shoppers will want to step off the plane perfectly turned out, in the same looks, from Rome to Sydney to Rykievik.
Indeed for a moment the Power Suit was pretty ubiquitous but women, long before current concerns, rebelled against being turned into clones in a bright broad shouldered suit, later followed by a black broad shouldered suit. Each individual woman leads many lives, even within a single day, and the wardrobe needed broadening, not narrowing to reflect this.
Hence across all market levels across the world, the rise of the small, the strength of the individual, the importance of the limited edition, the growth of products with integrity, the impact of local, the search for the special and the return of craft.
I’m not saying The Gap or Marks and Spencer will disappear, or that Chanel will downsize, but when it comes to spending our money, if it’s a basic product we want, we can buy that on line. Uniqlo match their online to in-store products, to enable repeat purchases of basics, perfectly. We want the effort of leaving our homes to be rewarded, and our expectations are for the special experience, and great products which have been thought about, as well as proper expert customer service which will also support and fulfil that. In other words something in return for our money and something which isn’t the same as everything else.
One German and one Greek, the international attitude of the co founders should not be underestimated.
They are already stocked in key high-level boutiques across the world, they have NO intention of getting very big, they want to have the conversation with their stockists, buyers, and clients so the product the brand and they are in harmony and can move forward with confidence.
In this day and age it is easy to be able to track, follow and communicate so that the customer says “ I loved the longer sleeves, please can we have more” or “ I hated the big buttons, please don’t do those again”.
Rianna+Nina offer clothes with modesty in many of the silhouettes, a soft sizing to flatter a variety of sizes and shapes, or as Nina described it “Size zero to size zero, zero, zero!”
The look is such that pieces can be worn with quiet looks as an added spice, or piled on in multiple layers to make a real statement; the customer makes the personal choice and is offered options.
Likewise L’Uniform is a French bags and accessories brand whose distinctly French flavour sets it apart. Jeanne Signoles is the creative force behind the brand; a French women, having the product made in France and inspired by French baggage and practicalities.
Rahul Mishra invests his collections with specific cultural memories and pays tribute to crafts from his, and his countries, past. He also chose to launch his latest gorgeous shop in India, and only shows his haute couture collections there. If cultural identity plays a part in names like Ferragamo or Chanel, it is also abundantly clear many American designers have sufficient business within the United Staes that they don’t even have to play the game of pretending their label is “international”, they’ve enough to do supplying the home market.
Also remember America has no core traditions on dress or culture, or even regional variations,then think of the myriad countries which do. Think about the size of India, the number of countries whose language is Spanish, and the fashion balance shifts away from the obvious domination of trends selected by a few European and American editors.
Influencers often have their largest following, and power, in their country of origin. Designers in countries like Korea and India
understand the mix of the past and the present, and their history, culture and the important minutiae and details of the culture which may have a bearing on a motif, a colour or even a texture, undetectable to an outsider.
Korea especially has an exciting adventurous new generation of designers who offer clothes for the Korean customers who instantly see the appeal of their specific local style and attitude…
Look to the fashion weeks in Tbilisi, or Lagos, San Paolo or Copenhagen, as much as they boost the international profiles of designers they offer a local “shop window”.
Today this is also no limit to selling internationally; I purchased from the amazing Lasha Devdariani in Tbilisi, measurements sent, patterns and colours selected, coat sent to me in five days after choices were finalised!
In terms of bloggers, vloggers, etc. and social media trends, from YouTube and Instagram through Weibo and WeChat in China, it fascinating to see how this follows a similar pattern and balances local and culturally savvy users who focus on their followers local viewpoints, alongside international names who by their very nature are “all things to all people”.
The comparatively recent interest and understanding of micro influencers, those with followers who have a specific, focussed, aware, and often professional, interest in the specific persons account, is important.
As opposed to those with millions of followers most of whom, in the final analysis, prove unable to be converted into financial returns or a quantifiable use. Social media for a business today is about a great deal more than images, humour and numbers; it has to really function at some level.
Again pointing to the local against the global and the gigantic against the manageable, emphasising the element of conversation or even discussion within social media, and the ability to engage and react, and fast.
The conversation and the balancing which is possible in smaller companies, in local companies, and the ability to react quickly is becoming a huge factor in clothing.
Heatwave, and rails and rails of chunky overcoats and knitwear? How does this even happen?
This is because the huge retailers are locked into a cycle founded back when retailers dictated to the customers, also long term orders put down to secure prices way before the season started with the cloth, even before the styles have been considered.
The old fashion system is useless but for many it’s all they know, or understand. In the eighties high street stores could run huge numbers of a style, then repeat and recolour.
The Limited, Esprit, Marks & Spencer, Next, Morgan, Naf-Naf, BHS, Kookai, The Gap, all worked this system. Every branch was loaded with product, the rails were stuffed, and department stores weren’t much better.
Now look at retail, many shops still overstock, sales are semi permanent and staff still don’t actually help the customers. So back to trends; they’re like anything, great if they work for you, but absolutely useless otherwise.
Tweed’s in Bangalore? Floor length in Atlanta? Sheer in Oslo? It’s time for fashion to actually think about trends, who it’s for, where and how it’s being sold and worn, and if it is appropriate.