In a perfect world …….we would have a progressive fashion industry…

Well a New Year starts, and I thought I would make my New Years resolutions of changes which I would like to implement in the fashion industry. Some are realistic, some are purely wishful thinking perhaps, but all I feel passionate about, never less here it is…

phoebe_soloPhoebe Garland co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion, with Robert Garland who was described by Ragtrader as a “veteran rag trader” with over 30 years experience in the fashion industry. Between the two of them, Phoebe & Robert Garland have over 50 years sales experience in fashion, publishing and advertising. Garland & Garland Fashion is a leading fashion agency based in Sydney and they are regularly sought for comment from various media on business fashion topics and issues.


1)       In a perfect world:  Fashion Agents would be charging showroom space for their ranges to manufacturers and distributors like it is standard in the U.S.A. With commission rates being a minimum 20% on everything. Building up labels takes an enormous amount of time and money and you don’t earn a cent until they are established, which can take years. Getting to that point is costly and to be honest some may never happen.  In most other industries, they would charge by the hour or by campaign and they would charge a lot. Commission only is a very outdated method of payment for the rising costs of business today.

2)       In a perfect world: There would be an end of the discounting cycle from retailers, department stores and chain stores.  A terribly destructive form of retailing which has taught consumers to shop on sale, haggle retailers on price, and devalue product and brands, as well as cutting retailers margins.  A true short sharp sale is one thing, constant discounting means you are stocking the wrong product or not buying correctly.  Bad all around.

3)       In a perfect world:  we would end all credit in the fashion industry, ensuring that everyone is debt free from all sides of the industry, keeping our industry thriving and ensuring EVERYONE gets paid.  Eliminating credit across the board and putting an end to the debt trap.

JazzyDeLisser_V_14feb11_CandiceLake_b4)       In a perfect world: We would bring back hats, apparently many a woman would like to wear hats outside the racing season but do not have the courage to wear them, according to milliner, Kerry Stanley. Here, Here – love a hat!

5)       In a perfect world: we would make more of an effort to dress. Recently at Fashion Torque’s 1st Birthday, the divine Candice De Ville expert on all things vintage says she despises the laziness in fashion and not making an effort to look good.  I have to agree 100%, my motto is….. there is simply no excuse for letting yourself go. Always has been and always will be.

6)       In a perfect world: manufacturers and distributors of mature labels would be providing ample marketing support for retailers and agents. Good clean images and spending the money on stylised photo shoots, which retailers and agents can use as effective tools to enhance sales for their product. No more shots of literally grabbing the “girl next door” in greasy hair and no make-up and flat shoes. How terribly inspiring to buy your label – NOT! Would a magazine shoot like that? I don’t think so.

7)       In a perfect world: Retailers would be having a more open mind to viewing new ranges, we are not necessarily asking them to buy, but I can’t abide by the stubborn ones that refuse to even look, you just never know until you look or even worse stand you up after making appointment – just rude…manners cost nothing!

8)       In a perfect world:  There would be an end of the influx of national massive chain stores and a return to the domination of independent retailers. Oh, for the 1970’s retailing days. This would bring back great variety to retailing, as opposed to the same boring bland major shopping centres where everything is the same and the same national traders. I am now embarrassed to buy anything with a pattern in it from a chain store as I feel the world will know exactly where its from.

madam9)       In a perfect world: we would have the volume of sales in garments with beautiful fabrics, high quality silks, cottons, cashmere, and good construction of garments, as opposed to fast cheap and easy fashion with lesser quality and fabrications. As the iconic fashion designer Jenny Bannister describes this type of fashion, ever so aptly as being simply “Landfill”.  Educating the public where good taste lies and how to dress with elegance and class is dearly needed. The beautiful garments at Madam Virtue & Co should be where the volume is. Breath taking beauty is what Madam Virtue & Co specializes in. The owners are utterly adorable too.

10)    In a perfect world: we would end 100% polyester.  Hate it, despise it and wondering why the fashion industry has not banned it yet? Or the fire department for being a fire hazard? I understand it might have been a bit of novelty in the 60’s & 70’s, but so was Tang and Limmit biscuits…. need I say more?

11)    In a perfect world:  Manufacturers and distributors would not blame fashion agents and retailers for their garments not selling and would not treat fashion agents as ’employees’. We do run our own businesses, we are not your employees, and quite frankly it is rather patronising to complain and lecture about unrealistic sales figures in this economic climate when half the time the manufacturer/distributor has never even sold their own product. It’s easy to forget the fashion industry is small one and we agents do tend to talk to each other about winners and the not so winning labels.

12)    In a perfect world: We would bring manufacturing back to Australia, unlike The Button Plan, which ended manufacturing – thank you Bob Hawke. And we would put an end to these hideous unions inhibiting any small manufacturing left in Australia. Protecting jobs is one thing, inhibiting jobs is something else…. perhaps the unions need to understand the difference?

13)    In a perfect world: We would all retain our slender figures, so as we get older so we could wear more belts and waisted garments. Enough of these shapeless tunics, which do nothing for your figure.  If I see another 40+ woman in one, I think I may die of boredom. Come on ladies make an effort, you may be mature, but look at some of the beauties such as Audrey Hepburn or even Maggie Tabberer, Carla Zampatti, 90 year old Iris Apfel, and our Governor General Quentin Bryce – classy ladies who present themselves beautifully.

14)   In a perfect worldWe would have some reasonably priced Italian shoes. At the moment both my husband I struggle to buy ourselves decent Italian shoes without paying $500 plus.  You either have the cheap shoes, Made in China which “look” fine, until you put them on your feet and then you feel the inferior fit of them. It just can’t match the unparalleled craftsmanship of the Italian kind.  Or you have the $500 plus Italian ones…not much in between. Hello distributors and importers I beg you to look at this major gap in the market.

15) In a perfect world: We would have decent menswear for real men with realistic fits. Now, no offence at all to my darling homosexual male friends and believe me I have suddenly developed a lot since working in fashion, but sadly as much as I have tried to convince my husband to wear colour, he won’t. Most Australian men aren’t 6ft tall and super skinny, a good menswear brand, which is commercial, yet modern but not too camp and not too street wear is needed for the straight males and a few independent menswear boutiques to stock it would be nice too.

Now at which point, I will have to leave you dear reader, as I have to go back to selling a huge volume of garments in polyester and probably even take a few orders for some of those tunics, I am terribly fond of. Whilst in between, reading a few patronising emails, I am sure. I actually do love this industry, I just live in hope for some progressive changes, which will bring the fashion industry in line with other industries.

In a perfect world, in a perfect world! Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

What you would like changed in the fashion industry?

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Images via Candice Lake and Broadsheet

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