I have the summer blahs
As you've probably noticed, I haven't been posting a lot lately. Last week was an anomaly--I went out every night, Monday through Sunday--but, really, I've been feeling pretty uninspired. This is such a weird time of the year, because spring/summer merchandise has been on sale for at least a month (and in this bad economy, nearly two months) so I'm totally sick of all of that stuff, and all the new merchandise arriving in stores is for fall--boots, sweaters, tights--and as much as I love fall clothes, really, when the weather is humid and over 90 degrees, the last thing I want to think about is buying cashmere and wool. This point was addressed in a long but well written article in Monday's WWD*, Fashion's First Aid Kit [subscription required]. Since most of you probably can't read the full article, here's the section I'm talking about:

As women’s budgets tighten, they are waiting longer to shop — until they’ll actually be able to wear what they’re buying. One reason, say numerous observers, is that season after season of earlier and earlier markdowns have trained customers to wait for sales. Markdown madness might be corrected, at least in part, if vendors and retailers collectively shifted merchandise arrival to align with the seasons. In other words, fall should start selling in August or September, not June, and should not be marked down until closer to the end, not beginning, of the season as defined by weather.

Vendors have been complaining about the early timing of shipments for years — Donna Karan has been an outspoken advocate of aligning deliveries with the seasons — but the current economic situation and shift in consumer buying patterns may be enough to stimulate real change.

“We are so projecting forward that we are not talking to the customer,” said Karan. “People should not be worrying, ‘What do I wear six months from now?’ The customer doesn’t want it that way, but we force them. Everybody is trying to be ahead of the game. To me, it’s like the movie industry. I no longer have to go to a movie. There are so many screenings a year in advance. I go, ‘Wait a second, that just opened? Everyone’s seen it already.’ It’s too confusing.”

“Individual vendors can’t dictate when goods go on sale, but they should have more just-in-time deliveries,” said Allan Ellinger, senior managing partner at Marketing Management Group. “No individual company can reinvent the wheel, but working as a group, they can align merchandising with seasonality. It’s a one-time correction that would benefit the entire industry, from retailers to vendors, in creating less markdowns.”

One thing designers have started doing is use 12-month fabrics to make clothes appealing regardless of the specific season. Lighter-weight fabrications and lighter colors in fall 2008 collections are more evident than previous seasons, retailers have observed, which should spur sales.

Part of H&M and Zara’s success has been their fast-fashion formula that includes wear-now-buy-now pieces and collections that rotate the floors regularly to get the customer to keep coming back to view new merchandise.

Markdowns, of course, will continue to be a reality, and there are strategies to make money off them by creating preplanned sale product. “Form alliances with specific retailers to create the best style in the cheapest fabric or the cheapest style in the best fabric, to get extra margin while satisfying the sales period,” recommended Andrew Jassin, managing director of the Jassin-O’Rourke Group LLC fashion consultants.

I have never understood the whole shop-now-for-clothes-to-wear-three-months-from-now concept, and I even work for a major retailer. We live in a culture of immediate gratification; why buy something when you can't wear it right away?

There's still a month of summer left, but Fashion Week will be here before we know it (I was just approved for credentials today, so I will be covering it once again), and by then I'll be in a more fall-friendly state of mind. But until then, I'm turning to you, dear Cheryl Shops readers, for ideas. Is there anything you want me to write about? More smart recession shopping? Chic laptop bags? Sample sales, sample sales, and more sample sales? Post a suggestion in the comments below or, if you're shy, email me. Hopefully sometime soon, inspiration will strike.

*By the way, does anyone else think the new WWD.com redesign sucks? I can't find anything, and the daily newsletter just has headlines, so I don't know what half of the stores are about.


Anonymous said...

the WWD redesign TOTALLY sucks! So user un-friendly. Can't differentiate the new stories or sort through headlines. Ugh.

Glad I can vent :).

Daydream Believer said...

post suggestion:
Prediction of the next it-color

It could be fun :)