PUTTING ORDER BACK INTO THINGS FOR 2009 is the call of Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana design fame, who wants the fashion industry to become better attuned to both what the buyer needs and when he needs it. It doesn’t make sense, he contends, to display cotton shorts in December or fur coats in the middle of July.
“A normal shopper, even an elitist one like ours, buys a down jacket in November.”
The combination of the consumer slump due to the serious financial recession – plus what Gabbana calls “fashion overkill” — have been “major eye-openers” forcing companies to look more closely at what is happening in the fashion system and recognize what does and what doesn’t work, he says.
BE HERE NOW
This is a revolutionary attitude! What Gabbana is essentially calling for is a total restructuring of the buying and selling of consumer goods. “I don’t want cherries or strawberries at Christmas anymore. I want to eat, dress, and live on time,” he says.
“I think we all need to sit back and ponder over this anxiety we all have of constantly needing to anticipate.”
Gabbana also talks about more and more collections that are often out of touch with the consumer’s needs. The consumer, he says, is constantly being overwhelmed by a “crescendo” of merchandise and super-early sales that are unreasonable. Instead of pleasing the customer, Gabbana feels, these sales make the buyer feel tricked when she sees the item discounted a month later.
GABBANA’S CONTENTION: Collections need to be smaller and more focused. Besides affecting the bottom line and impacting creativity, Gabbana feels the risk of too many collections is being stuck with warehouses full of unwanted merchandise.
A NEW SCENARIO
Getting merchandise into stores earlier and earlier has to change. His idea is to bring in merchandise when it is wanted.
- YOU CAN PUT THE GABBANA THEORY TO WORK FOR YOU: That means buying closer to the season, and putting out merchandise in a more timely manner. Think about upscale dress up jewelry in time for the big Christmas holidays, not in May.
- Feature cozy winter hats in December, beachwear in late spring. Focus on Valentine’s Day in January. Right now, you can buy some wonderful wholesale fedoras, ivy caps, felts, and more, to keep your customers warm throughout the winter months. Add to them some handsome scarves and gloves and you’ve got an accessory collection that makes sense and that has a much higher chance of selling out completely.
Gabbana’s comments are sure to ring true with most consumers as well as with people in the Industry. For example, you can’t buy bathing suits in July in Florida. You can’t buy snow shoes in Maine in February. To offset this “calendar craziness,” Gabbana is pushing back pre-fall deliveries to mid-June from May and hopes to make them even later going forward. The idea is to get merchandise in the stores when the customer wants to buy it. Wow!
- YOU CAN TAKE CONFUSION OUT OF YOUR BUYER’S EXPERIENCE as well by making sure you have what the customer wants now and that she can buy and wear the products at the same time.
- Consider, for example, novelty fun and funny hats just right for this year’s Mardi Gras. Choose from alligator or crow hats, tricorn hats, silly bird hats, and much, much more. The pre-Lenten party time is coming and you can be ready for it without jumping the season too far in advance!