What does a fashion editor, buyer, wall street banker and his underemployed, free spending wife have in common? Well, there are many directions I could go in with this, but the truth is that they all eagerly anticipate the fashion trends sent down the runway each season. Clearly, the interest of the editor, buyer and the shopoholic wife is quite obvious, but why does the banker care? One reason- fashion is an excellent barometer as to the financial security and confidence that consumers feel.
Don’t believe me? Here is a quick breakdown:
1. Since 1920, hemlines have been an indicator of consumers optimism and confidence. In the Great Depression of 1920’s and the 1970’s alike when times were tough, longer hemlines were everywhere- not a thigh in sight! In the early 2000’s when everything was coming up roses and bankers used $100 bills to wipe their noses with, the micro-mini was everywhere! Why is this? When money is running like wine and honey, short skirts are embraced as a fashion item. When the cash disappears, a more versatile longer hem dress is simply a better, wiser purchase.
2. Color is also an indicator used to gauge consumer sentiment. There is a reason the past two years have been dominated by the staid everyday colors of black, gray, camel and navy. Simply put, when money is tight, how many different ways can you wear an orange skirt? Not as many as a black one, that is for sure. Wearable neutrals is the name of the game.
The color test is also true in the beauty markets. Many cosmetic companies see sales of red lipstick spike during economic recessions. Why? Simple: women want to feel beautiful and glamorous and when the $4,000 YSL dress is out of range, the $28 red lipstick is not! Take a look at the fashion and beauty magazines and the red carpet through 2010- it was red lips for everyone!
If we apply these principles we learned above to the Spring 2011 collections, we can see that consumers are definitely optimistic and more willing to spend! Vogue.com did a wonderful report of the “best of breed” from the Spring 2011 fashion shows and the overwhelming commonality in the collections is color. Now, I touched on this after the NY shows in that Tropicana orange was everywhere, but it looks like the international fashion scene of Milan, Paris and London are all on the same page. Here is a bit of evidence:
Time to Analyze:
1. Hemlines- they are lower, almost to the knee. Even the pants are billowy- a sure sign that designers are conscious that consumers are not ready to blow all their cash quite yet. No impulse purchases here, wise investment is what we are talking about.
2. Color!! Check out the saturation of hues we are going to see in stores next year! There is no “safety” in these color, so I hope you are ready for bold statements. God knows after a couple of years of bleak repression, I am ready to blow out the entire rainbow in my outfits!