Fashion retail used to be all about two major seasons. Spring/Summer starting in January and Autumn/Winter starting in July. There were another two smaller collections in the calendar called Cruise or Resort collections typically for sale around October to Dec. Aimed at the wealthy client who sought winter sun. Pre Season for the designer brands starts in July. Major designers still follow this trend, but retail giants such as Zara, Topshop and H&M started to spin the wheels of fashion faster all in the name of creating more demand.
It is now normal for these fast fashion brands to have two drops of new styles every week into store. Zara’s turn around time from concept to store is 5-6 weeks. Quite literally as soon as you have bought and worn something, it is potentially “out of fashion.”
But have you tried to pick up some cool summer dresses recently and struggled to find anything?
Why is it hard to buy the clothes you need when you need them the most?
Alicia and I were having a great chin wag about this the other week, about how fashion has forgotten to account for the fact of when we actually experience the seasons.
It’s sale time everywhere, the full stock of summer clothes was available in March and April. The Beast From the East swept across the country and the shops were selling pretty prints and summer brights. I was shopping in Glasgow at the time with racks and racks of clothes waiting to be purchased. I remember thinking all I see is landfill. Clothes that will not sell, will end up in the sale, then bought because they were a bargain, not loved or worn, destined to overflowing charity shops, and then to head to landfill.
Winter weather doesn’t really set in now until after Christmas yet the full stock of winter clothes are available in September when we are all still enjoying the summer. In January when winter actually starts here in the UK, it’s sale time again with the stock no longer merchandised well, crammed on sale rails and not all sizes available. If you are lucky, you do grab a bargain but mostly it’s a big effort to find things you actually need to match what’s happening outside.
The majority of consumers do not plan or buy ahead (unlike you, my wonderful followers!) If stores actually had clothes which were aligned with the seasons and not still following age old standard lead times and show dates it may actually solve some of the slump in retail sales.
Interestingly the timings of when designer brands show their runway collections is undergoing change. Burberry has adopted two annual season less shows with product available only weeks later in store rather than the old tradition of showing the collections six months ahead. Tom Ford has taken a similar approach and I’m sure more designer labels will follow.
ASOS the online giant may also lead change, but sadly still aim to sell volume over quality. They have now mastered production to warehouse in 2-4 weeks. With over 5000 new products being added to their website weekly the traditional fashion seasons are being blurred, with production being based upon what is selling. So this sizzling summer if you need new clothes that are actually appropriate, they are the most likely source to have relevant stock.
What I have I purchased to see myself through the heatwave? Nothing! I am delighting wearing slip dresses I would usually layer, halternecks that have been waiting for me to take a sunny vacation for years and better still now a staycation on this amazing island. It’s all about buying right first time and wearing with love often.
Have yourselves a wonderful summer and look forward to taking you through next season again in style!