What has happened to dressing up? After a good solid 40 years of working in the fashion industry, my husband astutely observes that gym clothes have become the death of the fashion industry. Of course with his extensive experience he knows there are other factors, but he is only half joking when he states: “No wonder retailers are struggling out there, forget consumer confidence and all the other factors, it’s because these women are sitting in Lycra all day. “
It seems mothers are the biggest culprits dropping off their little ones at school and then picking them up in the same Lycra athletic gear. Now it seems he is not alone in thinking this. Smart fashion operator Jodhi Meares, ex Tigerlily has just launched her athletic wear, “The Upside”. The gym wear range is targeting women who not only like to work out but like to wear athletic garments all day. She also hired David Bush, ex GM of Womenswear, David Jones & now DBC consulting to consult on her range, to ensure that commercial edge. How smart is she tapping into this customer? Apparently sales in Rebel Sports and Myer are going through the roof. I had a look and it was very impressive.
Phoebes Garland is a Features Writer for EXPOSED Online and co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion with Robert Garland, a leading fashion agency based in Sydney. Phoebe also owns Fashion Initiative an online fashion destination covering business of fashion, fashion, luxury and events. Phoebes Garland was described as a” Power Agent” by Ragtrader magazine. Between the two of them, Phoebes & Robert Garland have over 50 years sales experience in fashion, publishing and advertising. Garland & Garland Fashion is a respected leading boutique fashion agency based in Sydney, and they are regularly sought for comment from various media and the fashion industry on business fashion topics, fashion and issues.
But seriously what has happened to dressing up? For the most part, things we could sell years ago in wholesale just don’t sell. For example suiting. It seems the structured garment has somewhat died in wholesale in the middle age market. Yet in other markets, usually vertical operators, it still sells. Iconic fashion designer, Carla Zampatti, still bases her lines on many beautifully structured garments, and the younger markets are innovating in structured looks with capes and sleeveless vests, bringing a fresh new approach to the shoulder pad.
Evening wear also tends to fall into this category. Now I know there are a few evening wear specialists out there, but there are certainly not enough for me to take on an evening wear range in my showroom. Let’s face it, the days of a woman changing three times a day, wearing three different garments and an evening wear dress out, is over, except for very special occasions. As the highly esteemed David Bush said to me “ These days, that woman isn’t buying three different outfits, she goes to work and wears the same dress and then goes for drinks and perhaps changes her shoes but relies on that same dress to pick up a bloke afterwards”.
European ranges can also be dicey sellers, very hit and miss. While they may look good, for the most part they struggle to get any real volume of sales in Australia. Aside from being quite expensive, it’s this ‘European look’, which seems for the most part to be too dressy or tailored for the mass market, average consumer in Australia. Again it falls into this tiny niche category, yes there will be some retailers that sell it well, but again not enough retailers out there for me to put a range in my showroom and for me to retire on.
And why on earth did hats ever go out of fashion? Nothing like making a woman feel elegant and a man feel like a gentleman with a hat. Racing season is almost the only sales period for head wear. When you look at it historically, say right up to the 60’s, they were worn almost daily, and then in the 1970s it changed with a more casual look with the boho hippie hat.
Our society has become so frighteningly casual. So much so it’s ingrained into our perception and people are genuinely surprised when people wear something other than jeans and a t-shirt. I often get the remark from a lot of people “Oh you look so dressed up, where are you going?” Really? No I call it making an effort.
I think for the love of the fashion industry, it’s time we stopped being so lazy and made the effort to dress up a bit. It seems that in seeking ‘comfort, it has bred a certain laziness in the consumer into dare I say it “letting ourselves go”. Enough of the tracksuits, bengaline pants, high-waisted pants and don’t even get me started on those hideous Crocs for the under 40’s. It’s time to go to the gym, lose the weight and start caring again about wearing fashion, beautiful fabrics and construction. Nothing like a combination of vanity and a love of fashion as a great motivator!
When did it become so damn casual? I pray for the day I can have ranges that can have enough sales of beautiful fabrics and constructed pieces, because they are such top sellers and the average consumer can’t get enough. In the meantime, I go where the money is simply because that’s where the market is. Can’t hurt to dream though.
Has fashion lost its way?
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