Fashion’s Paradigm Shift- Who is leading Who?

In the old days (and by old I mean prior to the recession currently affecting my bottom line), it was quite indisputable that the major retailers were all powerful in the setting of trends.  The buyers ruling the retailer empire were responsible for deciding what runway offerings were going to be carried in the stores, and therefore, what the consumers in mass were going to purchasing, and wearing.  Let’s be real for a second- these buyers were THE key influencers that every brand/designer was looking to woo.  They could write the ticket (or order as it were) to making a collection a massive hit and it wasn’t unheard of to see buyers taking home MAJOR cash during the holiday season as a little “consideration” for their support of the brands.

Well, sayonara holiday cash in briefcases- the internet came, conquered, and in the process, transferred the power of determining trends to the consumer.  Saavy brands such as Burberry, realized the power of the “brand fan” and created Art of The Trench, a website dedicated to its perennial best seller, the Trench Coat.  Users can learn about the history of the trench as well as upload a pic of how they style their own trench, allowing each user to become a stylist. Pretty genius.

But what happens when the product you are talking about doesn’t have such a cult following like the Burberry trench?  Let’s be honest- how awful would it be to have a consumer content driven website that sits empty because no one cares!

Well, lets just say that the biggest trend in setting trends is the pop-up store.  Pop up stores aren’t anything new, they have been around for a couple of years and offer younger, less established (read underfunded) companies to try out locations without having to sign a lease to determine scalability.  They also allow brands to try out a new product, attract a new customer demographic, or simply build awareness.

With NYFW coming up in a week, pop-up stores are “popping up” everywhere.  WWD announced today that the Kardashian sisters will be creating a new K-Dash apparel collection for the retailer.

Although QVC doesn’t exactly need additional exposure to create an audience as it broadcasts to 98 million households each day.  However, it does need to up the fashion ante if it is looking to draw a younger, fashion-savvy consumer looking to emulate celebrity style.  How better to do this than by creating buzz with a pop-up store in Rockefeller Center (quite close to Lincoln Center where FW is now being held).

Although the designing of the clothes will be left to Ginny Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger‘s sister, the K sisters will be on hand during Fashion Week at the pop up store to interact with the public and surely get feedback for the inevitable second collection.

Elizabeth and James, the celebrity favorite collection designed by the Olsen sisters will also be opening the first ever pop up shop in NYC during FW.  Not only are Mary Kate and Ashley helping organize Fashion’s Night Out on September 10, but these are smart girls, they know full well that a pop up store is a great way to determine the scalability of the brand. Mark my words- if the product sells well and they get traffic, NYC will have its own Elizabeth and James store in 2011.

Oh, and don’t think that pop up shops is only for apparel.  Maybelline will be setting up its own pop up store during FNO to test market new products, new colors and is even hosting a catwalk competition (a bit odd of a link, but whatever, it will be fun!) in NYC as well as other activities in Miami or Chicago.

So, bottom line: Consumers (you guys) have the power, because you have the right to decide where, and on what, to spend your money.  If retailers and brands want to stay relevant and ahead of the pack, they will do anything short of custom make clothes to keep customer’s happy and cater to their needs. To not do this, is to sign their own Chapter 11 papers.

4 responses to “Fashion’s Paradigm Shift- Who is leading Who?

  1. Kudos to you, Ali!!! Once again, you nailed it. Next we will have pop up restaurants. Now there is a thought… gale

    • I love it. With the restaurant business being the hardest to survive, they should take all the empty restaurants and rent them on a month long basis. This way chef’s move into an already set up kitchen and FOH, serve up their specialties and see if they can drum up enough interest (and staying power) to commit to a lease. Genius. Get on that!

  2. The pop up concept is gaining traction in the baking world. Dorie Greenspan’s popular CookieBar is a great example of how this trend may be on its way to being the norm. I just hope it’s a prelude to a permanent CookieBar- popup prelaunch?

  3. Pingback: The Fashion Calendar- Is There Still a Worm for the Early Bird? | Up My Ali

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