Fashion’s Low Risk Strategy in 2008
Eric Wilson writes an interesting piece in last week’s New York Times, “Change? It Wasn’t in Fashion” pointing out how in 2008, compared to the topsy turvy year in the American political arena, the fashion industry was decidedly more cautious (or in his words, stubborn). Marc Jacobs revived designs from earlier collaborations with Murakami and Steven Sprouse, even marketing them with tried and true imagery. Models from the 1990s are making a comeback. Trends which have been around for way too long (they are trends after all, meaning they’re supposed to shift and morph with significant timeliness) just won’t go away: skinny jeans, Ray Ban sunglasses, and we can think of many, many more (plaid… purple… babydoll shirts… sundresses…)
Wilson doesn’t go so far as to explain why fashion has been so reluctant to change over the past year (or more), though it’s implicit in his article. The two industries which drive fashion trends & production – retail and publishing – are in shambles. No one is shopping, stores are closing left and right, retailers that are still in operation are slashing prices to unheard of levels. Magazines are laying off staff, going online only, or shutting down entirely. If no one is buying your product as it is, what would happen if you suddenly changed the game? If you know that consumers are happy with skinny jeans, offering high waisted bellbottoms is a risky gamble.
But for an industry that’s built on change, how much longer can things stay the same?