1. All the clothes are the same
The single biggest complaint about the state of fashion today is a distinct lack of original design. Particularly in the street fashion genre, the industry is plagued with a massive “me-too” complex. These days the challenge is all over, everybody wants to be the next “billionaire street label with all-over pattern designs”. Perhaps what’s even more sad, is that the customer has largely bought into such an extraordinary lack of invention, perpetuating the appearance of such mindless creations. It is really a challenge to look at the street fashion collections that come out today and get any real sense of distinct “design personality”. The group that loses when this happens is the customer, the customer that loses the ability to express themselves uniquely through what they wear.
2. Nobody cares for quality
In the latest Trend Report from trendwatching, one of the emerging trends for 2007 was “massclusivity” or exclusivity for the masses. What this has done, over the last few years, is commoditize all but the most luxurious products on earth. This has been done at the expense of quality. The fashion companies cannot make massive amounts of so called “designer” fashions at the same costs and with the same attention to detail as they would if they were not trying to flood the market with cheap clothes. As a direct result, quality has suffered, quality of the materials, quality of the designs, quality of the product delivery and quality of the production process. But more about that later…
3. Nobody cares for service
With the advent of mass commoditization, fashion has lost any ambitions of providing great service. If your goal is to move massive units of mindless cheap product, would you care so much about service? Would you put much effort into the experience your customer has with your label, with your brand? The labels have become faceless corporations with as much quality of brand experience as a vending machine. This has partly given rise to a larger fashion gap – the birth of “uber-premium” products where quality and service does matter though at such an expense that places them outside the reach of 99.9% of the mass class.
4. The designs don’t mean anything
Fashion has never been a great place to find meaning, especially not with any depth. This is odd, because one of the measures of great design in other realms of artistic expression are the feelings, thoughts and emotions a design evokes in those who observe it. This is a large part of how other arts are judged and how consciously and unconsciously, value gets assigned to them. Fashion has spent generations treading on thin ice in this area. With too much bias towards passing pop culture fads, fashion has systematically squandered the opportunity to intrigue, create wonder and make a statement to its masses of followers.
5. The creations are not new, only recycled
Perhaps even greater than the lack of inspiring creativity, sparkling variety and depth of meaning is the distinct absence of true innovation. If you take a complimentary industry, such as sports footwear – that industry has built real brand value through innovation. Cases in point are leading brands like Puma or Nike. Guilty in some respects of their own style recycling with the retro sneaker fad, they have over time made real attempts to consistently rethink the sports sneaker. And the customer has benefited with greater comfort, better performance and ultimately, better styling.
So what now?
Well to those consumers who are now becoming more conscious and aware of the real price of fashion, who are concerned about the impact of their choices in what clothes they buy, the following may be good advice –
o Buy fewer clothes
o Buy clothes that are more durable so they can last longer
o Buy clothes that are made as ethically as possible, with least energy and least use of toxic chemicals
o Buy clothes made by workers paid a credible living age, with reasonable employment rights and conditions
o Buy clothes that mean something to you, clothes that you can be proud of, and proud of wearing for a long time
o Buy clothes that give something back to the world that gave birth to them
Fashion may be dead in many ways, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In its proper form, fashion breathes. And when design, creativity, personal truth, honest expression and social responsibility meet – fashion sings. Because no matter what giant corporations may do, the undeniable truth is…
Fashion wants to live.