WSJ Pick – Fashion Fatigue

Behind Ellie and June Fashion Fatigue

In the other portion of my life, earnings season is in full swing. Public companies are announcing their fourth quarter earnings (fashion and beauty companies among them) and Bloomberg’s Orange Book (highlighted anecdotes from company executives on their conference calls) is out for Bloomberg terminal users.

Since Black Friday of last year, I’ve been paying special attention to e-commerce. Why? Well for starters, I’ve recently started a business in this space, but also because the breakdown of sales between physical shopping and online shopping are increasingly favoring the latter. For the first time, online shopping (specifically mobile) topped shopping at traditional brick and mortar stores on Black Friday 2015 (for WSJ subscribers, I linked to a few applicable articles at the end of the post).

And while earnings season unfolds, it’s clear that some of the larger companies are struggling to keep up with this shift. Wal-Mart Stores announced in January that they’re closing more than 150 stores in the US as more consumers shop online. Finish Line invested heavily in new infrastructure to cater to an increase in online shoppers, only to have the system fail during the holidays resulting in a loss of $32MM in sales. People want to buy, right from their couch (or toilet, I mean let’s be honest here), with their unwashed hair and their feet in their slippers. Which brings me to my main point- fashion fatigue.

I came across this piece this morning and it was cucumbers to my eyes (instead of music to my ears of course).  I recently went to my first trade show, which was anything but what I expected, and wanted to buy Spring/Summer 2016 items right there. I quickly learned that everyone else in the industry was purchasing Fall 2016 items. Silly old me… thinking I could just walk into the place and buy what everyone (who knew what they were doing) already bought six months ago… or was I silly? Turns out, I’m not crazy.

According to this lovely little Wall Street Journal article, the old paradigm is (slowly) changing. People around the world are watching what designers are doing on live streams and on social media, and don’t want to wait months to wear the clothing. They want it in stores or online, like yesterday.  Having to wait is creating fashion fatigue.  At New York Fashion Week, it sounds like designers are taking notice.  Rebecca Minkoff is showing clothes for the current season. Others are making their fall products immediately available for sale, and emerging designers are just simply not doing shows.

I gave this section in the WSJ a serious high five; especially after that secret trade show failure of mine. Lucky for me, online showrooms that showcase products on your desktop or mobile device are also a real thing (read here about JOOR’s series B funding back in 2013). Now if I want to, I can head to New York for their latest show, or I could just do some preliminary scanning for my store’s latest products at home, with my unwashed hair, and my feet in my slippers 😉

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