Saturday, August 15, 2009
The Good, and Bad of the Sale rack.
Fall is around the corner. All the most interesting clothes , shoes and accessories of the year are about to appear in all the stores , everywhere. It's like the best drugs for the biggest junkies.... But unlike typical junkie mentality which is the sooner the score the faster to rush. This Recession has changed the scoring habits of Fashion fiends. Instead of the race to the racks , people are hanging back, white knuckling it, teeth grinding (what I refer to as jaw boning), even a bit of profuse sweating while waiting for the stores to break down and put the "stuff" on SALE. It's what we've come to expect. When you want it but no longer have the money to pay retail or don't want to spend money you may have, we no longer shop the old fashioned way.
There's a paradigm shift in the way the business of fashion is conducted. I've waited so long to use a big word:Paradigm. There's one small problem with this shift: it has taken the concept of Business and is pushing it towards extinction. The good thing is that you get something that otherwise would be out of reach. The bad thing is that it is putting designers and stores steadily out of business. A catch 22 is the result.
Some of you may be aware that Anna Wintour is attempting a moratorium on SALES. At the risk of a hairless cat suddenly sporting an Afro, I have to agree with her to a certain degree. The dealers are losing money and the suppliers are in turn going under with the end result being that one day soon there won't be any "stuff" available to buy; sale or no sale.The idea of Business the world over will go the way of the dinosaurs . Something has got to give, and yet there are no easy answers.
A small group of Fortunates still heavy with disposable incomes can pre-order and grab the goodies the moment they hit the selling floor. The rest of us wait. The salespeople live off commissions and are so desperate they'll put stuff aside for customers for when the mark downs begin. Meanwhile, the designers see their clothes go on sale 3 weeks after they've been shipped. It's instant charge back time. They, the designers, watch their payday turn into crumbs. The stores begin asking for discounts before the designer has even gotten paid.
When you're small you live from each piece you deliver .You pay for the fabric, the cost of production and watch your investment evaporate.
Are you following where I'm going with this?
Saks, Neiman's, Nordstrom's ,Barneys, and almost every specialty store in the country is bleeding. The same goes for almost every design company not buffeted with a perfume, secondary line or fantastic licensing deal in the Far East. That means everyone out there who's not a Donna, Calvin ,Ralph, Marc, Michael or Carolina, to name a few major players in this country, are living from check to check. If we want them to survive we need to try something risky. We need to buy something before it goes on sale. Anything. We need to grit our teeth, save up a little money and invest it in something ,it could be one thing. But we need to buy it . This is how we can ban together and shift the Paradigm to a new spot. Not the old one, or the present one but to a new place.
It's not an easy simple solution, but this business is in terrible trouble. Every species of it is in danger of extinction. We can take small steps to save it. In doing so we can slowly change the way we've gotten the things that give us pleasure. The food that feeds our sense of ourselves can still be ours, only this way everyone in the mix has a shot at a tomorrow. I know it sounds idealistic an impractical, even foolish. I just can't think of a better way. Whether it's KMart or Bergdorf Goodman the game is the same. Let's play!