Even the most successful clothing retailers have found the past couple of years challenging, and the clothing market globally has been blighted with heavy discounting as retailers try to clear stocks of unwanted product.
This trend has been variously blamed on unseasonal weather; the shift to online shopping; consumers preferring to spend on experiences; millennials having less money than their parents’ generation and having other spending priorities; and the abundance of baby boomers who have been the drivers of consumer spending all their lives, but have enough clothes and would rather go travelling.
All of these factors are relevant but what about fashion itself?
After all, it’s new fashion trends that make us go out and buy clothes we do not need.
Current fashion can be summed up as frills, long print dresses, yellow, shirts, and big sleeves – another throwback to the 70s hippies era.
But if you are one of those many baby boomers you have been there and done that, several times over.
Moreover while these trends may be the first time for millennials the advent of fast fashion means that they can easily miss out on a trend because, within weeks, a new one will come along, and indeed the one you missed will reappear shortly anyway.
Meanwhile, because it’s spring, as happens every year, the shops are full of navy and white stripe tops, blazers, linen shirts and denim.
Do you need, or even want, any more stripey tops?
While this is a simplistic summary, the fundamental argument is that fashion has lost the ability to excite us into totally changing our wardrobes with a completely new look as Dior did with his New Look, or Yves St Laurent and Mary Quant did with mini dresses, or hippies did, or punk.
Fashion moves so fast now and changes so frequently we are becoming inured to it, and even when new trends emerge are they really new?
Or just a rehash of previous trends? Or even relevant to modern lives? (Look at the red carpet at the First Monday in May Met Gala).
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This is the problem for clothing retailers.
How can they excite us enough to buy more clothes, more often? Fashion needs to step up.