DALLAS, Dec 14, 2007 / FW / — With all the TV ads this Christmas season, perfumes overshadow apparel in terms of airtime. From Emporio Armani Diamonds to White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, including Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Antonio Banderas scents, one would think that all of us would find fragrance under the tree come Christmas morning.
Of course, a scientific survey proves that this layman’s conclusion about the popularity of fragrance as a Christmas gift is far from the real deal. According to a survey conducted for the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) by BIGresearch, the top ten holiday advertisements are from Target, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears, Kohl’s, Kmart, JCPenney, Publix and Meijer.
Except for Publix, which is a grocery store and Best Buy, which is an electronics retailer, the rest of the top ten are either department stores or discounters that offer fashion. Still, it is noteworthy to mention that TV spots from these retailers talk about fragrances more than they mention apparel.
With that in mind, Reuter’s report that apparel is not moving at all is not surprising because clothing is not being advertised. On the other hand, if apparel is not a hot item, advertising for higher profit margin products like accessories and perfumes make a lot of sense.
Remembering past Christmases, TV spots from department and specialty stores including Macy’s and Target featured clothes as must-have items. This season, except for the obvious that all models and celebrities appearing on ads are all wearing clothes, there is no mention of apparel at all.
As a fashion observer, this is truly a sad state of affairs because it means that although the shows go on twice a year, it’s only on the runway that clothes take center stage. That, among the thousands of clothes that are shown on the catwalk, only a small percentage actually reach store shelves.
This brings to mind an article written by Suzy Menkes of the Herald Tribune about two years ago asking the question, ‘Who will be the next big designer in the same level of Yves Saint Laurent or Gianni Versace?’
Answering her own question, Suzy Menkes said, ‘NO ONE.’ Seeing what is going on now, it is very hard not to agree with her. It seems that the influence of fashion designers has diminished and/or continue to diminish as the world becomes more and more of a global village.
As the world ‘grows smaller’ because of mass communication, and geographical boundaries are blurred due to the influence of the internet, people are becoming ‘local’ so that they can remain global.
In short, the global village is a double-edged sword. People try to hold on to their heritage and/or the ethos of their local surroundings while they participate in global discussions. This is actually a paradox, something that sociologists have already observed.
Extrapolating on that line of thinking, it only follows that ‘dressing’ will be more individualistic and/or regionalist. Without even openly thinking about it, people will wear clothes that are ‘more suited’ for their locale, instead of what glossies recommend.
Fashion subcultures like Goth and the club culture will attract more followers. In fact, the fashion underground will become stronger than ever.
The paradox of the global village is just one of the influences driving this trend. The other one is the changing demographics. As the Internet generation matures and their predecessor, the echo boomers become more dominant in the work force, there is also a shift on disposable income spending. The young people are more interested in electronics and gizmos than clothes, i.e., they would spend hundreds of dollars on a new mobile phone or laptop and not worry about designer’s clothes.
The baby boomers, who are either in retirement or near it, are also shifting their spending. They are now spending on leisure and travel, instead of high-street clothes because their lifestyle had changed. In short, though the market for high-street apparel still exist, they are spending their money elsewhere.
The final, and perhaps the most important factor in the eyes of a fashion observer is because fashion is now in a cusp. While fashion is still influenced by the 20th century, specifically the 1960s and the 1980s, fashion designers are also experimenting on new silhouettes to bring us to the 21st century.
As already have been mentioned here, it takes time to develop something new. Perhaps the best example is the new silhouettes by Martin Margiela, wherein fashion critics actually had a glimpse of the development.
It was during the Spring 2006 Paris season in October 2005, when the Paris-based designer staged a runway show where models were literally ‘half-dressed’, i.e., though you can see the silhouettes, the “clothes” were actually still part of a bolt of fabric. (see photo above)
It was not until the Fall 2007 season in Feb 2006 that we actually saw the ‘finished’ silhouette that is graphical, with exaggerated shoulders. Still, the Martin Margiela Spring 2008 collection shown last October demonstrated more directional development of the silhouette. (photo at left)
That said, let it also be mentioned that during the Spring 2008 season, Martin Margiela is one of the handful designers that showed a true new development in terms of silhouettes.