I’ve been thinking most recently about customers and discussing this with colleagues and my fashion students.
The discussion has been evolving along the lines of the 24/7 world the customer wants and the binary experience of online and offline retail.The department store is re-emerging as an experiential fashion retail tool with many of the big US retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman in addition to Macys pouring millions of dollars into ‘’bringing back the magic into retail’’.
In the fashion business we’ve also been considering the way that Instagram has changed fashion much of which has been written about in the trade press.
It seems to me that the fashion industry has to ensure that we co-create the retail experience with customers who are simultaneously involved in the process and influencing the industry through their engagement with social media.
Indeed most recently we’ve seen what the business of fashion labelled ‘ ‘The new world order ‘as a business new model evolved driven by what customers want, as the major fashion brands from Burberry to Tom Ford to Tommy Hilfiger move catwalk collection dates and make fashion available to match the retail cycle. In fact it was Rebecca Minkoff who seemed to do this ‘first’ and created availability to customers when they want it, instantly.
The original model was in fact been an outdated one which did not match the way the fashion retail cycle has changed, as one of my colleagues in fashion marketing exclaimed …‘it’s the way my mother used to shop’….
So the influence of the customer has enormous power and they’re driving this shift. I’d like to think that as this inevitably has its impact (and we don’t know if this ‘new world order’ will work yet) maybe there will be an impact on the high street which could result in more creativity and quality products but I have my doubts. Even designers such as Raf Simons when he leftDior cited the pressure driven by the volume of designs and collections he had to produce as part of his rationale for leaving.
However, this change seems to certainly be creating a form of disruptive innovation for the fashion industry which seems driven by the fast fashion model as it continues to influence every aspect of the industry and customers who demand instant gratification are driven by the availability that the internet online selling has created.
We certainly seem to be living in interesting times in the fashion business and await the next moves as this new business model evolves further.
Author: Virginia Grose, Rise Committee Member & Course Leader & Principal Lecturer, School of Media Arts Design, University of Westminster