When beating the crisis is just a matter of style

Insights on how the Fashion industry will flourish in 2017

What is fashion? I think this might seem an easy question that hides a great complexity. In this post I will analyze some of the meanings and definitions of “fashion” by listing a few features that make many leading fashion companies and brands crisis-proof!

Every time we leave the house, we see clothes and bags, billboards and eye-catching displays in the streets. Moreover we should dress every day depending on the context and situation, to go to work for a meeting with our boss or even to go to the gym and train ourselves, both that fashion is our greatest passion …or not.

Whether we like it or not, we are surrounded by fashion. Every day we are bombarded by all kinds of advertisements: just turn on TV and you’ll see in true cinematic style men and women of a surreal beauty swapping glances in dream environments, a few moments of a story that lasts a while… only to discover that it comes just to an eau de perfume!

A perfume is fashionable? Probably not, I think that we all, as consumers, always try to buy back our favorite perfume when our bottle is ending. Yet almost all the brands sell perfumes and if you look at budgets, sometimes, they represent a significant entry. Once fashion could be easily identified in clothes but today the brands sell perfumes, handbags, sunglasses, watches and jewelry.

For me that I deal with marketing, this would be defined (in technical jargon) a line extension, a very profitable choice in the short term, but in the end it weakens the perception of the brand in the mind of the consumer. In fact it is true, all the brands do it, but in the long term only for the lucky few it is sustainable.

So, they do not just sell products: they sell real experiences, getting closer to purchasing dynamics that were once the privilege of the luxury world. In the attempt to embrace a “lifestyle” or a school of thought (that of the Hipsters, for example), the brands seek the “status symbol” and each product must necessarily be “aspirational”, according to the price range it belongs to, otherwise it is not sold.

As well are increasingly opened hotels, clubs, and many other types of activities that have little or nothing to do with fashion but somehow decline the particular philosophy of the brand and will carry on the style as the clothing lines.

For some fashion people’s creativity, flair of the designers, sparkling and glossy magazines clothes, to others fashion is a business: a large container of different professionals, small and large companies that collaborate with fashion houses to build “the dream”.To talk about fashion is to talk about famous designers, although at the same time, with current opportunities, everyone can create their own line of clothes, and you your own personal brand [If you have not already done so, and you are interested in the topic, I suggest you to read the articles that I wrote].

We hear often of crisis but (almost) unexpectedly in Italy is estimated for 2017 growth of 1.4% until reaching 83.639 billion (Textile Industry and Fashion), with exports of 62 billion (+1.5 % on 2015). Italy is the first country in Europe to the gross value of production of fashion, with 41% of the total, followed by Germany (11%), Spain (10%), France (8%) and the UK (7%).

What is sure is the fact that fashion is a real format born to create (and then kill) trends. These are developed and advanced first by the great designers who represent the true influencers (Do you remember a few seasons ago, when Giorgio Armani had a wisteria-colored collection? In a few weeks, everyone wanted to go out with the same colored items) and then are followed closely from all the others.

The fundamental challenge for fashion companies is that on the one hand, they have to build their own unique style and recognizable, so they need to have a personality and some recurring stylistic choices that customers will always associate with the brand; but in order to be considered “trendy”, they need to evolve and change, paradoxically, every season.

Fashion is no doubt to strike a balance between the past and the future. More often than not, the trends relate to previous decades. Innovation and novelty are both a necessity and a risk. Now more than ever the relationship with their audiences and their fans is important to understand what will be snapped up and what will remain on the shelves.

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to change it completely every six months

— Oscar Wilde

In the quote below, Oscar Wilde gave a perfect explanation of a fundamental concept that characterizes so many types of business: the planned obsolescence. The brands manage to persuade us to buy new products every six months not due to wear of the physical product, but by the desire to seek an aesthetic and a new design at every change of season. In short, “it is no longer fashionable”.

So fashion is a recursive type of business. In simple words, if you have a brand you do not settle for the fact that your client buys an item from you once; you have to make sure that he or she remains ready to come back to buy from you anytime you have something new or whenever there It will be a special occasion, such as sales or offers to still choose you.

This is one of the fundamental rules of marketing:It is much easier for a customer to purchase from us a second time rather than get a new customer. The artificial shortening of the product life cycle is one of the factors that explains the seasonal and some other strategies.

Among these, how not to mention the Zara model? Zara’s collections have a few weeks of life, are produced in a predefined number (often deliberately lower than the estimated demand) and everything is based on the scarcity summarized: “If you go into the store and see something you like to take it now because you know that every two weeks the collection changes”.

This topic alone would require several insights because, in my opinion, represents the state of art for the business models, although it has big consequences because it completely destroys the system of trade fairs, the “classic seasonality” and creates many complications for those who works in the industry.

As well as professionals, we just have to work hard, sure that this 2017 (as confirmed by Pitti Uomo 91 in these days) has all the credentials to be a good year full of satisfaction!

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