About Me

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Los Angeles, CA
Ilse Metchek, the President of the California Fashion association (CFA), created the organization in 1994, with assistance from the major financial and manufacturing participants of the region’s apparel industry. The CFA provides leaders of the Southern California’s manufacturing and textile community with the opportunity to share information about the business of conducting business in the current global economy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Relevance of 'Fashion'

To paraphrase an old adage, “when one door opens, another one closes”. Most of the recent articles and quotes from expert fashion reviewers seem to be missing the point. Yes, there is the internet, giving anyone who cares instant access to runway styles and fashion advice, and, yes, it is a platform for a new generation of style arbiters”, as Booth Moore stated in her article in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, September 13. The question is ‘who’ cares? The consumers with the most disposable income are not those who depend upon the style arbiters; they are going to buy what they need, if they see what they want at the right time, based on a reasonable trend assessment and its relevance to their lifestyles.

The reality is that the general buying public is no longer obsessed with the world of fashion, and is getting bored with looking at the same airbrushed faces; female and male. Fashion magazines, once the bible of ‘what to wear for the next season”, are struggling financially because their advertisers are looking for the return-on-investment. Clearly, if the readership was responding to the visuals in the magazine, advertisers would re-think their marketing dollars. But the readers are not buying what they are showing! Those who are obsessed with being ‘in’ are not equating the fact that one can buy a new printer/copier for the cost of a Marc Jacobs T-shirt. ....and a Coach handbag clearly has replaced a Vuitton as the ‘aspirational’ purchase of the day.

The phrase, ‘global strategy’ is a misnomer in this new phase of branding and merchandising. One fashion viewpoint does NOT fit all! Luxury brands are finding that the world of fast-fashion and pop culture are stealing their status as arbiters of style...especially when runway coverage depends on regurgitating ‘sharp-shoulders’, bell bottoms, and back-to-the-future silhouettes for editorial news. It becomes increasingly clear that everything old is not new again.

In plain English, the bigger the boom, the bigger the bust. Every economic crisis since the 40s had striking similarities to the current environment. These prior episodes were followed by a multi-year credit expansion, culminating in a banking system crisis, followed by credit contraction - all the result of borrowers emboldened to increase their indebtedness and lenders prepared to stretch their balance sheets. Some economists are predicting that we will not return to the inflation-adjusted peak until 2016. The key risk to our industry may come from the law of unintended consequences. Current pessimism about the earning capacity of an individual or a small business could become so acute that firms and households refuse to borrow, even when credit is available...the paradox of thrift.

To open the door for fashion related companies requires a total re-invention of the way business is being done, including new credit mechanisms, and a focus on the customer, both retailer and consumer, with CASH to spend.

Whatever happened to 8/10- E.O.M.?