The summer indent selling for 2016 is almost upon us and with it comes the anticipated predictions of what will sell for 2016. There have been many articles and discussions debating the ‘death of wholesale’, and while it’s not for the faint-hearted, the wholesale market still remains a very lucrative proposition for many fashion players, and is still essentially the backbone of many fashion businesses.
Despite the dire predictions, IBIS figures for 2015 show that wholesale held its own, with a fall of only 2.2 per cent with the sector still turning over $8 billion a year.
While retail in general has been difficult since the GFC, there has of course been the globalisation of fashion through online and the overseas chain stores arriving in Australia. As a result, the wholesale market has had to adjust to become more price-pointed in order for independent retailers to compete with the majors. The difficulty from a manufacturer’s point of view is that while retail prices may fall, manufacturing prices have not decreased, if anything they have increased with the Australian dollar falling.
Without a doubt, climates – economic and actual – and consumer confidence impact retail; however, it’s ultimately the strength of wholesale ranges, size of ranges, price points, on-time delivery, quality and design, which determine how successful you will be in wholesale and of course strong sell-through at retail is imperative. Understanding the customers also goes without saying.
My thoughts on the outlook for wholesale for 2016:
- The ageless contemporary market is continuing to strengthen each season and continues to offer a wide appeal to a broad range of retailers. The older customer is becoming a lot younger and wants more fashion, and this customer has the money to spend. Garments suitable for a range of consumers, from a 30 to 60-year-old customer, continue to be in high demand. Textured oversized knitwear for winter, loose fitting luxe-fabric tunics and loose fitting dresses in summer, continue to work very well in wholesale. Unstructured but flattering garments work particularly well for this lucrative over 40’s market. Lifestyle brands, with a complete brand offering encompassing multiple categories, including homewares, jewellery and fashion appeal to a large sector in wholesale, which makes it appealing to the fashion, homewares and gift retailer. Textured fabrics work well in knits and wovens, and unique quirky pieces in commercial shapes will continue to be demanded in wholesale. Independent retailers are always looking for a strong point of difference, which can’t be found in chain stores or discounted in department stores. Natural and breathable fabrics retain their appeal to the over 50’s womenswear category and to the more discerning customers. Higher price point ranges will continue to be limited in wholesale, unless it’s a strong recognised brand at retail and shows a strong selling point with fabric, quality and a point of difference with a proven sell through. Even then you may find limited retail accounts in Australia that cater to this customer.
- For the summer season, dresses always offer exceptional value for money across all age groups. Its one garment purchase for customers at retail and it offers a strong value-for-money component. Good quality ageless fashion knitwear for winter is a niche that continues to do well, providing the weather is cold enough. In the younger category, high fashion trend pieces in monthly ranges work well for the under 30’s market. Basic garments can only work providing it’s an exceptional piece in quality natural fabrics that doesn’t replicate a chain store look or that comes in a certain colour-way or fabric that is related to a particular garment story.
- The colour trends for SS16 released by Pantone consist of Rose Quartz, Peach Echo, Serenity, Snorkel Blue, Buttercup, Limpet Shell, Lilac Grey, Fiesta, Iced Coffee and Green Flash. Our predictions are that Snorkel Blue, Rose Quartz, Lilac Grey, Fiesta and Green Flash will be the biggest sellers with of course black, white and navy added in every season. Neutrals will always sell to the better end customer than bright colours do.
- Online retail and social media platforms will continue to flourish and will sort out the innovative independent retailers from the ones that can’t evolve. As a result, it will become more important than ever for wholesale fashion labels, especially in the over 40’s market, to become more digitally savvy to understand how to offer tools to retailers who want to embrace this way of retailing and to build a brand. Wholesale labels need to work much harder to build a brand than a vertical operator simply because a stand-alone vertical store almost acts like advertising for the brand. Loyalty to strong established brands in the eye of the consumer is something that fashion labels should not underestimate in terms of sales, particularly with so many global brands arriving in Australia. It’s now becoming crucial that wholesale labels work hard to build a ‘brand’ through marketing strategies, in order to enhance sell through and especially if you want to get into major department stores and major retailers.
- Fashion labels need to ensure every range is exceptional or the decline in sales can be brutal and will simply go to competitor who has ticked the boxes for the retailer. There is a strong demand for in-season stock of bestsellers. We are finding this is growing each season with some retailers cautious about indenting six months in advance. The fashion labels who aren’t backing up with any best selling styles and not marketing their in-season stock correctly via printed catalogues and high quality marketing materials to retailers are missing out on a lot of in-season business which in some cases can be add up to an extra 50% of indent sales. Perhaps the biggest mistake I see in driving stock sales is the lack of marketing to the trade and not backing up the best sellers.
About the Author:
Phoebes Garland is a Features Writer for Exposed Online & co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion with Robert Garland, a leading fashion agency based in Sydney. Phoebes also owns Fashion Initiative, an online fashion destination covering business of fashion, luxury and events.
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. Phoebes is on the Advisory Board for Fashion Design Studio (Sydney TAFE) in 2015 and is an industry mentor to designers with industry body Australian Fashion Chamber. Garland & Garland Fashion is a respected leading boutique fashion sales & consulting 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.