“Blink” Retail: Open Letter to the Fashion Industry

Dearest colleagues across all levels of British fashion retail,

I have been a dedicated member of this wonderful fashion industry for over 20 years now and so I hope you all take these comments with the love and respect with which they are intended- BUT YOU ARE ALL MAD!

Season upon season we have been pulling the launches of new collections forward, and this season I just can’t keep my grumblings and mumblings to myself any longer. Last week I was out doing our regular retail research and I spotted ‘New Season Collection’ signs in many high end department stores, signaling that the Cruise Collections, full of bright new colours in Springy shapes have arrived and ready to be snapped up. It is mid November…

I know that the Cruise collections traditionally drop at around this time delivering exciting full price stock to serve the privileged elite as they stock up their Globetrotter suitcases with new looks to hang about in when sunning themselves in tropical climes, but it just made me realize how speedy we are in this industry,  forcing the customer out of the moment and not giving her what she needs right now.

This speeding up seems to have happened particularly forcefully with the economic melt down. Stores were filled with stock that wasn’t shifting as everyone had to think more carefully about how they spent their hard earned cash. This meant that sales targets weren’t being met. So then product was discounted earlier than ideal to try and stimulate sales, and then new collections were pulled forward to fill the gaps created by those fabulous discounts. And we got caught up in this whirlwind of  ‘Give her newness to make her shop’  and suddenly Spring product is dropping in store in December and Autumn product is dropping in July. Mid season sales are starting before the actual true season (as in weather, you know, nature and climate and all that) has even begun.

I buy Summer clothes in actual Summer (which here is about late May if we’re lucky) and for the past few season’s that has meant that I have been able to buy many of my new looks on sale. This year I decided it was time to think about a new coat in late October (it was just getting a little chilly by then) and I could have brought it in the mid season sales. Mid of what season?? We had only just started the leaves changing for Autumn in real life, in the real world, where people wear actual clothes.

I just want the industry to consider reality rather than just chasing it’s tail, because all of that tail chasing is leading us up the garden path into an untenable and un-commercial situation. The climate is a phenomenon which impacts us all emotionally and physically, and aside from the natural fashion urge to want to look current, the main stimulus to sales is surely the impact of the change in temperature. Stop pushing us forward, and then wondering why your Spring stock isn’t selling in February (uhm, could it be the Nordic temperatures, the black ice or the flurries of snow perhaps?).

I’m in this industry and also a client of this industry, and I think that on this point we have utterly stopped making sense. Could someone please be brave and start the process of getting us back in step with the real world?

yours with love, respect and some frustration now vented,

Lucy

Founder and Creative Director of “Blink London”

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