Monday, February 16, 2009

Amen, Anna!

Anna Wintour gets it.

In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, the editor of Vogue magazine breaks down what is wrong with the fashion industry:

WSJ: If fashion is a barometer of the prevailing mood, what can we expect to see for fall 2009?

Ms. Wintour: It is so important for designers not to run scared, and not to be too worried about what's safe and what's commercial.

Right now, what's going to work is something their customer doesn't have in her closet and that has a real intrinsic sense of value. …Because to be honest there's been too much product, too much copy-catting, and, probably too much consumerism. I think a sense of clarity, a sense leveling off and a sense of reality is needed.

BINGO! Designers have turned into expensive versions of H&M, focusing solely on short-term trends instead of long-term value. I'm not saying that trends should be ignored, as there are still some who can afford to acquire expensive "It" items. However, that isn't true for the majority who want value, so there needs to be a mix of trends and timeless classics.

People are willing to pay full price for high-end labels, provided the pieces are high quality, exclusive and are fashionably durable, meaning that 10, 20 years later the pieces aren't dated. Hermes and LVMH are indicative of that. While other companies in the fashion retail sector posted losses, LVMH reported a fourth-quarter sales increase of 4%, and Hermes reported 2008 sales rose 8.6%, exceeding analyst forecasts.

Sorry, but you can't design any ol' garment, slap a famous name on it and expect it to sell in today's economy. The sooner designers realize this, the better off they will be.

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