Semester-vi elective II a apparel marketing


Recent developments in the fashion market



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Recent developments in the fashion market
Consumer demand for clothing is now more fragmented and discerning. Retailers are wary of carrying high levels of stock, major demographic changes are occurring, and many different styles and fabrics are available. These have all resulted in the mass market for clothing being fragmented and are eroding the advantages of long-run

manufacture. Previously the UK textile industry had a reputation for being dictatorial and short on choice. This was blamed on the nature of the relationship between retailers and manufacturers. Clothing retailing was dominated by a few large groups who exercised enormous power in the wholesale market for garments and fabrics. Retailers emphasized basic garments with very little fashion content, and Marks and Spencer in particular set very detailed specifications for fabrics, making-up and quality. Manufacturers such as Courtaulds and Carrington Viyella geared their production to large volumes of basic fabrics for a few major customers. It became uneconomic to deal with orders that either were small or required much design detail. Competition among retail chains was over the price and quality of

garments. Since then the market share of the multiple retailers (such as Bhs,

Debenhams and Marks and Spencer) has been affected firstly by the emergence of smaller specialist chains (Benetton, Next) then grocery supermarkets (‘George’ at Asda and Tesco). Mintel 2005 estimates that ‘George’ sales in 2004 (excluding VAT) were £1.07 billion and that non-specialist retailers of this type enjoyed an increase in

sales of 13% from 2003 to 2004, with this rising trend continuing. Further European retailers (Zara, H&M) have also gained market share in the UK by importing low-cost garments. To avoid competing with the abundance of low-cost imports, the big retailers have responded by increasing the speed with which they introduce fashion

and style changes. This, in turn, has forced suppliers to manufacture shorter runs of garments with higher design and fashion content. In some parts of the market there has been a distinct shift in retail competition away from an emphasis on garment price to non-price factors, such as design, quality and fashion. However, this non-price competition has had only a limited success with even Marks and Spencer and its strong ‘British Made’ slogan, turning to importing more cheaply from overseas. Value retailers such as Matalan, Primark and TK Maxx, who have attracted the more price conscious shopper, have enjoyed considerable success in other sectors of the market



Employment in the fashion sector
Employment in the manufacturing of clothing textiles and leather production in the UK has now fallen to rank 24th out of the 25 categories of manufacturing industry recorded by the Government. Two main factors have reduced the numbers employed in the sector in recent years to only 132 000 in 2006 (Table 2.4). New technologies

have reduced the need for many workers, particularly in the more skilled areas of pattern cutting as much of this can be computerized. The computer systems still need to be manned by a skilled workforce, but retraining has to be done and still there will be redundancies. The far more important factor has been the stiff level of cheap competition from abroad. With an inability to raise prices in the face of a depressed domestic market and crippled by large debts, many firms have had to make savage cuts in their labour force and investment plans as the alternative to going out of business. In the late 1990s many major UK clothing manufacturers suffered as their customers Table 2.2 Some major developments in fashion Pre-nineteenth century Fashions only for the rich and powerful 1918 onwards Start of mass fashion 1930s Film personalities influencing popular clothing

1939–1945 World War II – raised hemlines 1950s and 1960s Freer styles, fewer control garments 1970s to 1990s Growth of multi-nationals and mass media influence chose to source garments from cheaper overseas suppliers. The UK

clothing industry is made up of small, medium and large manufacturers. The smaller manufacturers feed off the larger companies by offering specialist finishing services. As the larger retailers turn to overseas manufacturing or supplying, so the vulnerable smaller companies suffer.


The current role of London in the fashion business
Fashion centres of the world have always included London, even before the era of Carnaby Street and Mary Quant, but recently designers have been choosing not to show in London. Now that London Fashion Week no longer has the financial backing of the French Chambre Syndicale (the French organization that decides which fashion

houses may join the ranks of the haute couturiers), the number of exhibitions has declined. With it no longer being a requirement to show in London, designers have taken the opportunity to save the expense of showing at yet another fashion week, instead concentrating on the ones which they feel will be most prestigious and best

covered by the media. This shift away from London is of concern to the industry, particularly for the knock-on effect that it will have on everything from employment to tourism. Cities which are taking a more prominent role in the fashion year are New York, Tokyo and, new to the list, Shanghai.
The British High Street In contrast to Italy and most of the rest of Europe, UK has a much more consolidated market sector with only a few players as the big earners. Mintel (2005) stated that the top five UK retailers account for almost 45% of sales. The leading players by turnover being Marks and Spencer, Next, Arcadia Group (comprising Top Shop, Etam, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Outfi t and Evans), Matalan and Bhs. This dominance of the big players makes it hard for independent stores to get a foothold into the marketplace. It is hard to compete on price when dealing with high rents and cheap imported clothes.
Marketing environment

Fashion is ultimately about change. Every season there are new fashions

that lead to obsolescence of last year’s clothes. Many of these changes are brought about by designers trying to create something new to satisfy customers, but others are because of influences beyond the control of designers or manufacturers. These are all gathered together in what is called the marketing environment, as shown

in Figure 2.3. Some changes occur very slowly while others can affect the market much more quickly; some are within a company’s control and others are way beyond it. Factors which ideally are within companies’ control are to a greater or lesser extent their suppliers, marketing intermediaries (which help to get the goods from the factory to the consumer) and the consumers themselves. For customers the providers of fashion may seem to have a variety of sources, for instance the designer who has the idea for the style, the manufacturer who makes up the garment or the retailer to whom the consumer goes to buy the garment.


Designers

While Paris is often thought of as the fashion capital of the world in fact there are five main cities supplying designs and new ideas to the international market. Paris is historically seen as the fashion capital and has the edge on many other cities as its fashion industry is taken very seriously by government and citizens alike. The haute couture designers are protected by the French Chambre Syndicale, which has strict codes of practice for any designer wishing to style him- or herself as an haute couture house. The main French designers are Yves St Laurent, Chanel (now run by Karl Lagerfeld), Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Jean Paul Gaultier, Sonia Rykiel and Christian Lacroix. The British are also making an impact in France, with Julian MacDonald and John Galliano securing senior designing roles in French fashion houses.

Milan is the other fashion capital of Europe, and Italians have always taken fashion very seriously. There are probably fewer wellknown designers, such as Giorgio Armani, Franco Moschino, Muicca Prada, Emanuel Ungaro and Versace, now headed by Donatella, sister to the founder Gianni who was tragically murdered in 1997, but Italy is a country whose people and retail set-up, with many more independent stores, is a successful environment for young designers.
London is no longer the focal point of fashion that it once was, though it still produces many internationally influential designers. Many are quite small fish by international standards but others have their designs bought by the rich and famous from all over the world. Although London is no longer a major centre, the UK clothing industry is still significant and exports are actually growing in contrast to internal

sales. The city also retains many successful designers such as Bruce Oldfield, Jasper Conran, Matthew Williamson, Alexander McQueen, Dame Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Katharine Hamnett, Joseph Ettedgui, Rifat Ozbek, Amanda Wakely, Betty Jackson and Caroline Charles.

In America the major centre is New York. To a considerable extent American fashions are confined to the home market, although all the big names are known and bought internationally. American designers include Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang and Donna Karan.
Tokyo, the centre of the Japanese clothing market, has a reputation for a distinct style and for almost a lack of colour. There has been considerable growth in recent years at the top end of the Japanese clothing market by designers, especially since 1981 when Comme des Garçons and Yamamoto took Paris by storm. This is a fashion city that is destined to continue to grow with such designers as Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons (Miss Rei Kawakubo), Issey Miyake, Junya Wantanabe and Kenzo.
The Middle East is now considered the sixth fashion terminus of the world, not because any designs come from here but because it is where the submerged 11% of the fashion industry goes. Much clothing is bought by women either within or while on holiday from such places as Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The overall market pattern now is that designers either make for themselves or subcontract to British or overseas manufacturers. Likewise retailers have their own designers and make them up in their own factories, subcontract their own designs to home or overseas manufacturers, or buy garments designed and made up by other companies.


International sourcing

The UK clothing industry is being squeezed further between the highly price-sensitive volume market which gets its supplies from low wage economies and the quality end of the market which is increasingly supplied from Europe. The level of imports to the UK from the relatively high-cost producers on the continent has finally succumbed

to pressure from other parts of the world and is decreasing.
Supplies come from three main sources:
1. UK, Europe and just beyond (Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Eire, Turkey and more recently Romania) making up about 20% of UK clothing imports. Italy has traditionally been the major player here with Germany and France in close second place.

2. The Far East (Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mauritius). The two major players here are Hong Kong and China. They contribute, almost equally, to the 30% of clothing entering the UK from the Far East.

3. Asia (India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). These main three players contribute to more than 12% of UK clothing and accessory imports. Predictions that the reduction of quotas for Chinese goods would have a negative impact on these countries do

not seem to have held true so far. The greatest increase in supply has come from China and this is only expected to increase further now that quotas have been all but

dropped to the UK and most of the rest of the world. However this does not seem to have affected UK exports suggesting there are different ranges of products being trade such as knitwear, rainwear and high-quality tailored items. Imports from eastern European countries such as Romania have been seen to rise, as they have benefited from preferential access by the European Union (EU) in order to aid their economic restructuring prior to the abandonment of Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) quotas. The days when Marks and Spencer used to boast that its garments were almost all produced in the UK, have long gone and they have suffered from criticism by some of the groups.
Manufacturers

In the late 1990s and early 2000s a gloomy picture was painted as a result of the move towards global sourcing. Several larger clothing companies such as J. Baird Ltd closed factories and others such as Dewhurst in the north-east of England who relied on a few major customers such as Marks and Spencer have suffered from this loss of business. There has been a reduction in the clothing manufacturing industry in the UK and many foreign companies have changed from both designing and manufacturing to one of merely cut, make and trim (CMT) for other people’s designs. Other parts of this chapter look at the way forward for the UK manufacturing industry. There is undoubtedly a role that it can play in the international sourcing market if it exploits the strengths of flexibility and quality and moves away from

competing on price alone. It is in these areas that the UK is still exporting its fashions, although Table 2.5 illustrates the changing fortunes in the import and export of clothing. Clothing manufacturers have had to improve their manufacturing methods. There has been severe cost cutting in some areas coupled with an increased emphasis on good design in other areas.
Marketing intermediaries

These are the main channels that help to get the goods from the manufacturer to the consumer. A detailed consideration of marketing intermediaries is given in Chapter Eight. Their roles can be many and varied.

The main ones are:

. retailers,

. agents,

. distributors,

. wholesalers,

. advertising agencies,

. market research agencies.
The intermediary having the greatest influence on the clothing market is the retailer group. British clothes retailing is unique in that 70% of garment sales come from only 17 retail chains. The larger chains have taken an increasing share of the growing clothing market at the expense of the smaller fi rms. In 2004 the Arcadia group (formerly Burton), which included Dorothy Perkins, Top Shop, Top Man, Miss

Selfridge, Wallis, Evans, Burtons and Outfi t, had sales, estimated by Mintel, of £1527 million from their clothing outlets numbering more than 2000. Supermarkets have had an increase in the share of the clothing market; however, the largest market share still goes to Marks and Spencer despite the company’s recent difficulties from which 2006 seemed to be a turning point. In Italy, by comparison, 95% of clothes are sold by single shops. On the whole, competition, particularly on price, has intensified since the 1990s. Customers are increasingly looking for value for money; but are not totally driven by price; they also want good design, comfort

and quality. Companies have had to rationalize and restructure to combat increasing competition, cheaper imports and changing customer expectations. In consequence, many womenswear multiples have been forced to segment markets more effectively, making their customers much more aware of the markets that are being catered for. This has led and will increasingly lead to a narrowing of product ranges. Retailers always need to be aware of how demographic factors can affect their core 15- to 29-year-old customer and adjust their offering accordingly. Demographic changes often force retailers to reposition themselves in the marketplace as was seen a few years ago when Top Shop, suffering from a reduction in the number of 15–20 year olds, decided to increase the age of their target customer upward. Targeting certain groups in terms of age and, often as important, lifestyle will become ever more crucial. Research into market trends and close co-operation with chosen target groups can help retailers. As the ‘middle youth’ market of women in their forties continue their youthful interest in fashion, there are opportunities for some retailers

to try to keep customers loyal for longer. Others, such as H&M, have professed concern that the presence of too wide a target market in their stores could alienate their core younger customers.


Fashion predictors

For the consumer it must be quite baffling to understand how each year designers, manufacturers and retailers all seem to know what styles and colours will be in fashion. The reality is that since the 1970s there have been companies who specialize in fashion prediction and act as consultants to interested parties in the fashion world. Companies such as the Paris-based organizations Peclers and

Promostyl, France, and London-based Worth Global Style Network (WGSN) sell their predictions on styles, colour and the market for the coming season or even further in advance for up to 18 months. There are at least 10 main organizations of this type in the world, although some specialize in specifi c markets such as childrenswear. Their predictions are not all identical, although there are usually many similarities

between them. These predictions help manufacturers and retail buyers alike to

make and stock the fashions; styles and colours that will be ‘the fashion’ for a coming season. However, at the end of the day the final decision rests with the customer in deciding whether to buy or not.

Competition within the fashion market

Consumers today are presented with a bewildering array of choice, yet it is probably in the clothing market more than any other that the consumer complains that he or she cannot find what they want. The clothing producers and retailers are working hard to correct this, but increasing competition and very small margins have made many firms wary of too much investment and experimentation. The high street stores have had to work much harder at tempting consumers and at times it seemed as if price cuts were their only weapon. However, much of the major competition happens at the sourcing of goods rather than in the stores, as summarized has been mentioned that globalization and sourcing from wherever

cheapest is increasingly becoming the trend, particularly among European competitors. This is enabling them to keep overall costs down, while offering merchandise of good design and quality. Since the opening of the single European market, competition from continental clothing producers has increased further, partly

because of lower transport costs and shorter lead times. With a single MFA quota for the EU, the highly concentrated and accessible British clothing market has become even more of a target than it was previously. There are also concerns about increased low-cost competition from some eastern European countries whose pleas for special treatment of their exports to the EU are showing sings of success. Now that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have joined the EU, they too have

gained free access to this vital market as will Turkey which is a candidate country. The clothing industries in these countries, in conjunction with EU companies, have undergone major restructuring and re-equipping. This has enabled them to present some formidable competition.

Direct and indirect competition for fashion products

Marketers have to realize that with increased choice consumers have many different ways to spend their money. In the western world people rarely need to buy clothes out of pure necessity. A woman does not merely choose between one dress and another; she also may choose between a new dress or hiring one, or making one or even to spend her money on something completely different like a handbag or entertainment. A man may choose between one jacket and another, or he may choose between a jacket and some new golf clubs. When consumers have to choose between similar goods such as one shirt or another, the garments, stores or manufacturers can be described as being in direct competition. However, when the goods are different, but perhaps fulfill similar needs, like the woman choosing

between buying and hiring a dress, then the stores and manufacturers are deemed to be in indirect competition.
Publics

There are many groups of publics that can affect a company’s success, notably the fi nancial institutions, unions and pressure groups to name but a few. The concept of fashion marketing publics is developed further in Chapter Eight within the context of fashion promotion. Perhaps one of the most powerful groups to affect the fashion market is the media. A report in the fashion press after a designer shows a collection can have disastrous results. It is for this reason that some fashion editors have been criticized for having too much power and influence on the market. Whether true or not, much time and effort is spent between fashion editor and designer to try to maintain good relations between the two. It is hoped that this courting may result in a favourable article at a critical time. While many national newspapers have strong fashion pages, the two most recognized fashion magazines in the UK are Vogue and Elle. Both are seen as essential reading for the woman or man who wants to know the important people and events in the fashion world. Powerful as these magazines are, neither has the overwhelming importance of the 92-year-old publication and premier daily newspaper for the women’s fashion and retail industry in the USA as Women’s Wear Daily, whose editor John Fairchild has long been regarded as a ashion guru. Another force which seems to be having an impact is the pressure groups, concerned with the use of cheap labour and unethical practices. Anti-sweatshop campaign groups, in particular Labour Behind the Label, No Sweat and Tearfund have criticized manufactures whose production practices are deemed unethical. Their concerns have been taken up by the media and many retailers are now taking a much closer interest into the conditions under which their garments are being made.


Macro-marketing environment

Factors considered within the macro-environment affect not only the company, but all the other members of its micro-environment, namely its suppliers, consumers, etc. These generally have a much wider infl uence and their effects become apparent more slowly than factors within the company. Factors within the macro-environment are cultural and social, political and legal, demographic, technological and

environmental .The inter-relationship of macro-environmental factors is most easily

discerned in matters of world tension. Political, legal, social and economic matters become entwined to exert a great impact upon general levels of consumption. Consumer confi dence was thought to have been dented by the Gulf War in 1991, which, although now over, has infl uenced consumer thinking. The war and terrorist activities in London have also affected the market as tourists stayed away

for fear of terrorist action, which has particularly influenced more up market brands and retailers such as Jaeger and Austin Reed.
Political and legal
Politics and law might seem a world away from fashion but both

can have extensive consequences for manufacturers. With such globalized

sourcing of suppliers, world political events can aid or hamper

the acquisition of supplies. A new legal requirement, be it in the

product or the methods of manufacture, can have a make or break

effect for some companies.



The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Multi-Fibre

Agreement

The Arrangement Regarding International Trade in Textile, popularly

known as the MFA, is an international agreement that regulated

imports of textile and clothing products into western industrialized

countries from low cost, mainly developing countries. Operating

under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

(GATT), the MFA currently has 43 signatories, the EU counting as

one. Until January 2005, under the system most imports of textiles

and clothing into developed countries were subject to detailed quantitative

ceilings, implemented through a combination of import and

export licences. The MFA was therefore unique in international regulation

of trade in industrial products in that it was a formal departure

from the free trade principles of GATT. Especially as there is no regulation

on exports from industrialized countries to low-cost producers

and there are no regulations between the EU and USA.

Originally signed in 1973, the MFA has been renewed on several

occasions, most recently in 1994 in Uruguay where an agreement was

made to phase out the quotas over a 10-year period which ended on

1 January 2005. This regulated, gradual dismantling of three decades

of protection for western textile and clothing industries has had a

huge impact on the UK clothing market, probably even more so than

for some of its other EU partner’s countries for whom imports from

developing countries as well as exports to them would grow. However

during 2005 imports from China quickly grew by more than 100% for

many items and so the EU set up its own quotas to control the infl ux

of Chinese clothing and footwear. In a hurry to beat the deadline for

new quotas, Chinese manufacturers speeded up imports and quickly

exceeded their full years’ quota. Consequently 75 million items of

Chinese manufactured clothing were held in European ports until a

resolution for their release was reached in August 2005. Whilst, many

of the items were school uniform required by retailers for sales prior

to the autumn school term, there was also a large amount of underwear

leading to the dispute being called the ‘Bra Wars’. These new

agreed quotas will last until 2007.



Legal aspects: children’s nightwear and other safety considerations

All children’s nightdresses and dressing gowns, including threads

and trimmings, have to comply with British Standard BS 5722. Those

which do not must be labelled ‘keep away from fire’. While manufacturers

had two years to comply completely with this standard, some

were still taken unawares.

Hoods on children’s coats and jackets can no longer be drawn by a

cord for fear of strangulation or being caught in something such as a

fairground roundabout, which could result in the child being dragged

along by the cord.



Minimum wage

The introduction of the minimum wage in 1995 undoubtedly affected

UK clothing manufacturers. Labour costs in North Africa and the Far

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

37

East showed a widening gap from UK labour costs and many British



clothing manufacturers set up their own units abroad, initially favouring

Morocco, Tunisia and Sri Lanka, and more recently moving further

afi eld mainly to China. British and European manufacturers also have

to conform to a more stringent set of legal obligations and working

standards than many other countries.

Copyright

Any design is the creative work of the designer – it is an original and

priced as such. Imitation can be said to be the highest form of fl attery,

but it is unlikely that any designers who have had their creations

copied would agree.

There are essentially two types of copying, either of a logo or

of a design, as shown in Figure 2.6. Both are very frustrating and

often it is too late to do anything about it when, or if, the copying is

discovered.

Logo copying might be imitations of the Lacoste crocodile, Mickey

Mouse T-shirts or the copy of a registered design feature such as

the Levi’s stitching marks. Copies of this type are an infringement of

trademark and the perpetrator can be sued.

Design copying can happen in one of two ways: first, before the

garment is on general release, the thief can sketch designs at a fashion

show, or steal the design sketches, computer tapes or discs from

the designer’s place of work, or even steal the actual garments. This

can mean that the copies get into the shops at the same time as or

even before the original. Secondly, designs can be copied once they

are already in the stores.

Copies are usually cheaper and of inferior quality to the original

and can give the original designer many problems. First, they will lose

sales to the cheaper versions. At first sight the copies may not seem

Copying of logos Copying of design

Stealing designs

Stealing garments

Copying garments

on sale


Figure 2.6 Copying of fashion.

Fashion Marketing

38

any different to the unsuspecting buyer who usually would go for



the cheaper version. Frequently it is only after wearing the garment

or more particularly washing it that the quality differences become

apparent. Fabrics do not wash or clean as well and seams will not

hold as well. These quality differences can lead the original designer

to get an unjustly poor reputation among the consumers who think

that they are buying original labels.

Retailers could be criticized for encouraging this practice. Now that

goods can be produced very quickly, high street stores pride themselves

on having high fashion ‘copies’ available within their stores

only days after they have been seen on the catwalks. Fashion magazines

often have features, such as the Sunday Times’ Style magazine’s

‘skinted and minted’, showing their readers how to get a designer

look at a fraction of the price by buying from high street stores. It is

very difficult to decide at what point these items are blatant copies

or merely following a fashion trend.

Copying of designs is not new. In 1975 the Fashion Design Protection

Association was set up by Achilleas Constantinou of Ariella Fashion after

he saw many of his designs in stores that he knew his company had

not supplied. This was subsequently taken up by the British Clothing

Industry Association (BCIA) who lobbied to get the Department of

Trade and Industry to bring out the Copyright Designs and Patents Act

in 1988. The aim of this Act is ‘to protect creativity without restricting

competition’. Designers are encouraged to claim copyright of their

designs by signing and dating their original drawings. However, designs

are often copied and sold in other countries without the designer ever

knowing, although the effect might be felt in decreased sales and reputation.

So these laudable efforts have not really solved the problem.

Aside from the practical difficulties of time and cost in pursuing legal

actions against the suppliers, there is still the problem of deciding when

a fashion house is merely following a trend and when it is breaking

the law.

One solution, used by Levi’s, is to monitor the market outlets constantly,

to make life harder for the counterfeiters. This may not be

possible for a smaller company, especially when any monitoring has

to be done internationally. Most of the copies are made abroad, to

enable cheaper manufacture and avoid copyright laws. Another tactic

used by Levi’s is to tightly control the distribution of their red label

tag stitched into all their jeans. They count out an exact number for

their manufacturers and require exactly that number of pairs of jeans

back from them, so preventing the manufacturer from producing

overruns and selling them as originals.

Such is the problem that in November 1999 the Consumer Affairs

Minister, Dr Kim Howells, attended the Sports Industries Federation

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

39

‘War on Counterfeiting’ conference in London. He pledged to ‘Crack



down on the “Mafi a Gangsters” who peddle counterfeit sportswear

costing the economy billions of pounds. Consumers need to know

that fake goods are dangerous and damaging and rarely last as long

as the genuine article’. Many companies are trying to do this crackdown

themselves. Mulberry, the Bond Street producer of original

leather handbag designs, took out 17 legal actions against retailers

for copying their designs; only one reached court as the other 16

were all settled out of court. In all cases Mulberry won, either compensation

or at least the withdrawal and destruction of stock.

2.6.2 Technological

As in all areas of industry new technology is making great inroads to

improve quality of life and increase speed and quality of manufacture.

In the area of fashion and clothing there have been many inventions.

Some have had only minor effects on the market, whereas others

have or are about to revolutionize them.

Other innovations in fabric technology are in the introduction of a

variety of different properties in fabrics. Available in stores is heatsensitive

hosiery to keep the wearer warm or cold; moisturizing

hosiery and underwear with a built-in fragrance capable of surviving

up to 40 washes.



Fibres and fabrics

Lycra is not a fabric. The trademark Lycra is the property of the

US-based chemical company Du Pont and is an Elastane fi bre that

lends itself to whichever fabric it is mixed with. Lycra is therefore an

additive that gives knitted and woven textiles the quality of lasting

stretch and recovery. It was fi rst developed in 1959 and its fi rst real

use in garments was in the 1960s in ski wear and men’s cord trousers.

It was really not until the 1980s that it took off in knitted garments.

Lycra has become a household name associated with dancewear,

swimwear, hosiery, cling-to-fi t fashion separates such as leggings and

vest dresses, in fact anything knitted. Lycra overcomes problems of fi t

and movement for body-hugging designs. Manufacturers obviously

benefit from associations with a consumer recognizable brand in premium,

superior quality garments and fabrics.

Such is the swimwear market’s reliance on Lycra that swimwear

designers do not design their collections until they have received

Du

Pont’s own fashion forecasts.



Lycra is now being mixed with woven fabrics for outerwear and tailoring

to take advantage of such benefits as improved appearance,

Fashion Marketing

40

better drape and less wrinkling. There is more development into adding



Lycra to other cloth to create a wide diversity of fabrics. This has

resulted in all kinds of fi nishes for fabrics using Lycra such as bubble,

cire, shiny, matt, satin finish or printed.

The development of Lycra into other clothing, notably sportswear,

has led to the increase of interest and sales in sportswear for professional,

hobby and leisure purposes.

The clothing industry is extremely labour intensive, but installation

of modern machinery fitted with the latest electronic controls is helping

to improve productivity.

In the sportswear clothing field there have been huge developments

in energy transfer fabrics which transfer heat away from the body so

allowing sportsmen and -women to remain cool during their activity.



Computers

The dramatic increase in the use of computers has not passed by

the fashion world, as shown in Figure 2.7. One of the main uses of

computer systems is that of computer-aided design (CAD). The implication

that this can have on the speed of transition of goods from

design to the shop floor is quite phenomenal. It also has great implications

for the employment sector in this industry. It may be the saviour

of the UK clothing industry if it is accepted quickly enough.

A CAD system can perform a wide variety of tasks:

. The programmer designs a motif.

. The motif can be enlarged to any size, and duplicated to cover

a piece of cloth. This can then be viewed on the computer

screen to see how the design will look on the draped fabric.

Virtual


reality

scanners


Electronic

Point of


Sale

Body


scanners

Computer-aided

design

Computers for



fashion marketing

Figure 2.7 Computers in fashion marketing.

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

41

. The fabric can be tried in different colourways.



. The fabric can then be printed either directly onto the fabric

using a bubble jet printer, or for larger lengths of fabric a

printing layout can be produced.

. The operator can then design a garment, perhaps a blouse,

by selecting different sleeves, collar, yoke, length, etc.

. The software will then print out a paper pattern to any basic

measurements given.

. It can also plan a layout for the pattern pieces to achieve the

optimum use of the fabric.

There is no reason why all these tasks cannot be performed by one

skilled computer operator; however, the question today must be

whether we need to train designers or computer operators. Although

in 1992 only 150 out of 9000 fashion companies in the UK were using

these systems to design garments, this number has increased dramatically,

particularly as the systems become more flexible and prices

are reduced.

These programmes can dramatically speed up the time it takes for a

garment to get into the stores. They are also very cost effective both

in terms of time saved and in minimizing fabric wastage. Perhaps the

biggest saving that these systems can offer is in the area of pattern

making and grading.

Some high street retailers like to deal with designers using this system

as they can easily ask for adjustments to be made without delaying

delivery time. So decisions are made more quickly and the buyer

has more choice and infl uence.

Made-to-measure has been used as a means of producing garments

since the inception of clothing. Since the industrial revolution, standardized

sizing has gained prominence as it brings affordable garments

to many markets. With growing populations comes diversity, the need

for fl exibility and the desire for better fi tting clothes for all, not just

those who can afford it. CAD can take a customer’s measurements

and reproduce designs or patterns for many different garments,

quickly and accurately. It also can grade patterns for different sizes.

A further development in technology for the clothing market is for

use in the made-to-measure market, where a system like a body scanner

can be used to measure body size and shape within seconds to

provide electronic tailoring.

In the future, virtual reality could transform the fashion business.

There would be no need for supermodels or scrambles to get the

front row at the fashion show. Designers could have the model they

wanted parading around their salons, while clients could view whole

couture collections in the comfort of their own homes.

Fashion Marketing

42

Another major computerized invention for the retailer is EPoS



(Electronic Point of Sale). This is very familiar in our supermarkets

where bar codes are scanned to give the price. The bar codes can also

tell the clothing retailer such information as size of garment, colour and

how long it has been in stock. This information can then go into a central

system that controls stock, and can, if necessary, rapidly reorder.

Computerized links with suppliers are growing in importance, speeding

up order processing and improving the accuracy of transactions.

The use of computers and EPoS has become very important in retail

success in data capture at the point of sale, management of the merchandise

and links with suppliers. Those retailers who have invested

in these systems will fare best in the future.

Internet

With 86% of all homes in the UK having Internet access in 2006, clothes

shopping via the web is predicted to continue to increase from the

estimated 4.1 billion or 1.8% of retail sales estimated by Mintel (2005).

While most fashion retailers now have established websites, but there

are mixed fortunes in terms of online purchases. The tactile dimension

of clothing purchases, the salience of colour matching with skin tones

and the variability in sizing are all factors that continue to inhibit the use

of the Internet by some customers. In addition, many consumers still

express concerns about the security of passing credit card details over

the Internet. The body scanner mentioned above could be used to see

whether the clothes available via a website will fi t the consumer before

a purchase is made. Companies that have been most successful such as

Next use a multi-channel format of store, catalogue and website. Other

successes have been amongst those who specialize in selling online such

as Asos with their celebrity inspired fashions or Figleaves with lingerie.



Television shopping

Still in its infancy, shopping via interactive television direct from the

armchair has a similar potential to change how we buy clothing.

However, growth of this area is limited by the same inhibitors as

those connected with Internet shopping. Figures from Mintel (2003)

estimate sales to be worth £395 million and only take a 2.7% share of

the total home-shopping market.

Body scanners

Body scanners are a way of collecting 3D data about a consumer’s

body shape and size. By standing, fully clothed, in a booth or pod, up

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

43

to 3000 body measurements can be taken in a matter of seconds by



cameras and lasers. Minutes later an accurate true to scale 3D body

model can be produced. This technology is already being put to a

variety of uses. Whilst mass production companies can now ensure

that their garments more closely fi t the average consumer, the greater

benefi ts will be made by the made-to-measure market for which

measurement is both quick and accurate. Retailers are also fi nding

uses for this technology. Selfridges, on Oxford Street, London, offer

body scanning in order to produce custom-fi t jeans. The customer can

choose the fabric, rise and leg style and be assured of a perfect fi tting

pair of jeans. In some Gap stores consumers can use the body scanner

to help them fi nd which brands and sizes will offer the best fi t. There

are even predictions that body scanners could eliminate the need for

changing rooms. The one market where they could reap most benefi

ts are in clothing purchased online. Internet sales still suffer from

consumer dissatisfaction due to poor fi t and consumers frequently do

not bother to return goods that don’t fi t, they just don’t bother shopping

with that company again. In time consumers could have their

own body scan on their computer they could ‘try on’ clothes from

participating online retailers. Early efforts in this area have been made

by some organization such as Landsend to offer ‘My Virtual Model™’.

An attractive mannequin can be programmed to assume a customer’s

shape, skin tone, hairstyle and facial features, and customers can try

clothes on their model to check fi t and co-ordination of different out-

fi ts. Clearly this is more fun than accurate but as a tool for getting the

customer involved with the merchandise it is very effective.

2.6.3 Demographics

This is the study of changes in the size and make-up of the population.

While these changes occur slowly and can be predicted well in

advance, only the foolish manufacturer ignores the effect they might

have on business. The UK has begun to undergo a quite radical

change in the make-up of its population and many of these changes

will have strong repercussions on the fashion clothing market.



Customer size

As a nation we are changing shape and businesses are being forced

to cope with the larger customer. Adult obesity rates have almost

quadrupled in the past 25 years and now 22% of Britons are obese,

classed as having a body mass index of over 30, and three-quarters

are overweight. The implications for the fashion industry are obvious

Fashion Marketing

44

in terms of sizes, stock levels and styling. Not only are people heavier



but the average height for both men and women has increased by

10 mm. This has implications for all sorts of goods and services such

as transport, furniture and clothing.

Many clothing manufacturers are offering goods in a wider range

of sizes or a more generous cut, although some have pandered to

their customers’ vanity and disguised the increase in size, Marks

and Spencer have admitted that a size 12 made in the 1980s is not

exactly the same as the equivalent size now. Even high fashion retailers

targeting the younger consumer are realizing the need to cater

for a broader range of sizes. Top Shop now offers a selection of their

clothing up to size 16 and Next up to size 22, although availability is

greater online or in the directory.

Apart from offering a wider range of sizes, some stores have a special

own range in store, e.g. Bhs’s range ‘Extra’, and H&M’s range BiB.

Many stores, including Marks and Spencer, also have petite ranges

and New Look has a range for women over 5_7_. There are also more

retailers catering solely for the larger customer. High and Mighty, as

the name suggests, is a growing chain for men. Dawn French has an

upmarket store in South Molton Street in London for women sized 16

and upwards. If the trend continues the time may come when it is the

size 10s who are complaining that they cannot fi nd anything to wear.

An ironic contrast, however, is the concern for people, particularly

women, who try to stay extremely thin or have eating disorders. For

them, stores are stocking jeans in sizes 6, 4 and sometimes even

smaller.

Changes in the family

The much quoted statistic of the family with 2.4 children has changed.

In recent years it has fl uctuated around the 1.8 mark. Couples are

tending to marry later and start a family later. This gives them the

opportunity to become more fi nancially stable, to get further on in

their careers and to have more disposable income to spend on their

children, some of it on clothing. More exclusive children’s clothing

shops have, like many others, suffered during the recession of the

early 1990s. However, there is still a substantial designer market for

childrenswear whether the garments are bought as gifts from generous

grandparents or as regular clothing by more fi nancially indulgent

parents.


With more people remarrying and starting a second family in their

late thirties and early forties, there is a need for maternity wear for

the more mature expectant mother, who may also be working at the

time. Whilst the high street caters quite well for the younger mother

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

45

within high street stores such as New Look and H&M, there are several



successful companies who sell mainly via catalogue or online. JoJo,

Maman, Bebe and Isabella Oliver offer more upmarket ranges with a

high design element to cater for the more mature and more affl uent

mother to be. These mothers will also want to keep a youthful appearance

consistent with their young children so there are other market

opportunities for post-natal ranges. Further details about the role of

the family in purchasing behaviour are given in Chapter Three.

Age changes in the population

The British population is forecast to rise by less than 2% between

2005 and 2010, but the signifi cant impact on the clothing sector is

the large changes to the structure of the population. Not withstanding

minor fl uctuations, the long-term decline in the number of 15–

24 year olds, high spenders on clothing, continues, albeit slowly.

Table 2.7 illustrates how different age ranges will be affected.

Children

Over the past 15 years there have been fl uctuations in the size of the

population in different children’s age bands. However, it is estimated

that, despite the increasing trend for women to be older when they

Table 2.7 Population trends (male and female), Great Britain

(in ‘000s)

% Change

have their fi rst child or even the move towards having a ‘second family’

with a new partner, there will be little growth in the children’s

market.


However, changes in the children’s market can still present many

opportunities for clothing and footwear demand for infants. Many

retailers have recognized this and the market is very competitive.

Retailers can best compete by offering good styles and designs with

good value for money. The premium end of the market shows room

for some expansion with many children’s only label such as Miniman

and Oilily, plus many adult designer labels offering diffusion children’s

ranges such as Baby Dior, Moschino, Armani, Ted Baker and DKNY.

The 10–14 years of age children’s market remains underdeveloped

in retail terms at present. Marks and Spencer have all but withdrawn

their attempt to appeal to teenagers. Next fare better but sell most

of the teen boys range online or via the Next Directory. The one

apparent success with stand-alone stores was Tammy Girl a younger

extension of the Etam range. Now under the control of Philip Green,

owner of the Arcadia group and Bhs, Tammy would appear to have

been demoted and is now only offered within the Bhs stores, reinforcing

the opinion that this is a very diffi cult sector at which to win. The

increasing interest in sportswear and sportswear labels would suggest

that it is the sports outfi tters that are best satisfying this group.

Traditional core market aged 15–34

The traditional core market for clothing suppliers, that of men and

women between the ages of 15 and 34, declined rapidly between

1990 and 2000 when stores for whom the lower end of this market

was key, such as Miss Selfridge, suffered as they saw their customer

base drop by about a twelfth. This age group has remained fairly

steady since then. Whilst the high spending 15–34 year olds will continue

to remain steady in numbers as a group until 2010, there will be

a drop in the 30 year olds at the top end of this market. There may

be some consolation in the fact that the 20-year-old group will grow

slightly, although they also have most demands on their fi nances with

mortgages and many are starting to have families.



The mature market

In 2005 almost 56% of all inhabitants in Britain were aged 35 years

or older. By 2010 the number of 45–54 year olds is expected to rise

more rapidly than any other age group. Previously people of this age

would have been grouped together with older consumers who traditionally

spend less on clothing, particularly men, than consumers in

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

47

their late teens, twenties and thirties. They bought fewer garments



and often spent less per garment than younger people. But emerging

from this group is the new ‘middle youth’ market as they are sometimes

referred to, who have a greater interest in health, fashion and

shopping, and whose members, particularly the women, are a potentially

lucrative market for the retailer who can offer the right formula.

Going against this tradition of being the lowest spenders on clothing,

in recent years, the spending of the 55–64 year olds has risen

dramatically, particularly that of women. This increase is expected to

continue as they benefi t from inheritance money from older relatives.

Most older groups, particularly towards the higher end of the age

bracket, are not as interested in fashion as in comfort and quality of

clothes. They buy fewer and lower priced items than younger people.

However, price is now becoming less signifi cant and service levels are

of increasing importance. There are now more magazines aimed at

them and a somewhat improved choice of merchandise in the shops.

Such people are infl uenced in their fashion attitudes by their growing

affl uence and are more aware of different styles. This is mainly due to

having been brought up in the post-war boom years. Retailers aiming

to serve this older market are responding with updated classic

ranges, particularly for women. There is, however, still an opportunity

to stimulate more menswear sales to older consumers by updating

ranges and retail presentation.

2.6.4 The social and cultural environments

These can cover a wide range of issues, but are basically the societywide

infl uences, values and changes that can affect the market.

Leisure activities

Changes in the amount and types of leisure activity have resulted in a

move away from formal codes of dress to much more casual styling.

The increased amount of leisure time that many people have, due to

shorter working hours, more electronic help in the home and convenience

foods, has led to a need for more clothing to wear in these

leisure hours.

Leisure wear, particularly in the guise of sportswear, has become a

style to wear during the whole day for most ages and socio-economic

groups. Nearly everyone wears some form of sportswear, be it T-shirts,

sweatshirts, jogger bottoms or polo shirts. Tracksuits and trainers are

almost a social uniform, in some parts of the market, for many daily

activities such as shopping, housework, looking after children, dog

walking and of course sports activities themselves.

Fashion Marketing

48

The role of work

The market for menswear and womenswear is very different in terms

of the occupational status of consumers. As far as the ‘working wardrobe’

is concerned a wearer’s occupation infl uences both his or her

garment needs and how much they can actually spend. Changes over

time in the occupations that comprise the labour market can therefore

have a major effect on the overall size and composition of the domestic

clothing market. The relationship between the structure of the

labour market, socio-economic groups and purchasing is developed

further in Chapter Three.

The past 20 years has seen a gradual increase of working women

to now make up just over 70% of the workforce. Less free time, more

disposable income and a need for clothing for work all have implications

for the clothing market. Although many of these women work

part time, it is still be the case that working women have less free

time in which to shop, but more disposable income. The desire to

dress smartly, along with the desire for fi nancial status, results in more

spending on clothes for different occasions.

Women in supervisory jobs tend to spend well above the national

average on their wardrobe. While there are still very few women in

professional and higher managerial jobs, they do tend to spend more

on their outerwear than the national average for women and are a

small and highly lucrative market.

Economically inactive women spend well below average on clothing

but cover a broad spectrum of ages, purchasing power and reasons

for not working, for instance they may be students, pensioners, unemployed

or women whose husbands have well-paid jobs.

For working men there has been a long-term shift from blue-collar

to white-collar work, which one might think would stimulate consumption.

Now that the UK is enjoying high levels of employment and the

steep rise in unemployment during the recession is over, sales of formal

workwear have not returned to their previous levels. This is partly

due to fashion changes, but pressure on the fi nances of many of its

core customers can also be a strong contributory factor.

Seasonal factors

Clothing producers and retailers have always found that demand for

their goods is subject to the vagaries of the weather and the seasons.

New ranges are introduced at certain times of the year in the expectation

that the weather will be as normal. In the past few years the

weather has been quite ‘unseasonal’ on many occasions. Summers have

either arrived early and lasted longer than expected or even appear

not to have arrived at all. Winters have been milder and suppliers have

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

49

often found themselves with the wrong stock for the weather. This



has led to a loss of profi ts either through lost sales due to shortages

of clothing or through heavy discounting to get rid of leftover end-ofseason

stock. When viewing fi gures seasonally, it is necessary to look at

several years together to avoid the bias of the extreme vagaries of the

weather although as a trend we are buying less heavy overcoats and

more summer wear.

Clothing sales are generally very low in January and February with

only around 6% of the total annual consumer sales. Childrenswear is

particularly weak here, whereas in September sales of school clothing

make this month the second most important sales period for childrenswear.

June is far more important than September for menswear

and womenswear. This is the beginning of summer and the holiday

season when around 10% of womenswear is bought, with menswear

sales just slightly lower.

The largest amount of clothing is bought in December with 17% of

total annual spending taking place. A large part of these sales is for

gifts. This month is especially important for menswear as men very often

receive clothing as gifts. Even the high volume of sales in the January

sales in no way matches the bumper sales period before Christmas.

2.6.5 ‘Green’ and ethical issues

As many consumers are accepting the concept of conserving and

recycling in other areas such as washing powders and paper, so they

may soon be questioning the need for constant renewal and replacement

of clothing to follow fashion. To the environmentalist an industry

that advocates continual change and ensures inbuilt obsolescence

in its products is far from attractive.

To satisfy the environmentally conscious consumer the pace of

fashion changes must slow down. The emphasis needs to shift from

short-term fads to durable styles, comfort, quality and real innovations

in fabrics and style that add to garments. There is already pressure

to develop ‘green fabrics’ with demand for more organic cotton

and an increased use of hemp but ‘green clothing’ is also likely to

become an increasingly important issue. There will be a need for

the recycling of fi bres and fabrics, and production of biodegradable

clothing.

Since successful companies need to recognize and anticipate consumer

needs and desires, research and development into these environmental

issues should be happening now.

Aligned to the concern of fabrics themselves is a concern over

manufacturing conditions now that so many garments come from

countries where wages are low and working conditions can be bad.
Green issues: the response of retailers

There have been several attempts to launch environmental clothing

ranges by labels such as Esprit and Claus Steilmann, but the high-profi le

attempts by some parts of the fashion industry to become greener

have yet to have any signifi cant impact. At the retail end of the business,

the major chain stores are examining how they can run their

stores in a more environmentally friendly way. Most of their efforts

may appear minor, but in total they could be quite signifi cant.

Environmental efforts include:

. the use of recycled paper for till rolls;

. using recycled plastic and actually recycling garment overbags;

. recycling hangers and not offering them to the customer, but

returning them to the clothing manufacturer to use again;

. using less packaging: Marks and Spencer now use virtually no

extra packaging for most of its garments, a far cry from when

jumpers were all packed in cardboard and cellophane;

. using fewer hardwoods for fi ttings in store design;

. using more energy effi cient transport, etc.

Hoechst, a European polyester and fi bre manufacturer, was the

fi rst fi bre company to gain a certifi cate under EMAS, the European

Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. The review of its environmental

practices led to a comprehensive report on energy and water consumption,

production emissions and recycling.

Marks and Spencer, in particular, are taking environmental concerns

into account. They are aiming to keep abreast of such issues and take

them into consideration in their buying decisions and operational

areas.

Second-hand clothing

In some high street shopping centres charity shops seem to be almost

as common as new clothing shops. The huge increase in the number

of these and second-hand clothing outlets can be explained in many

ways. As people buy more new clothing the second-hand clothing

shops are an obvious place for them to dispose of their unwanted

fashions from last season. Economic reasons could lead us to assume

that lack of money means that the only clothing some people can

afford is from the second-hand market. Or it could be that more environmentally

conscious people are preferring to buy second hand and

so recycling clothing rather than always buying new. The retro look of

the late 1990s meant that second-hand clothes shops were a good

source of desirable genuinely fashionable items.

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

51

One ‘new’ trend for the 2000s, partly fuelled by its popularity at red



carpet events such as the Oscars, is vintage clothing. Be it a 1950s Dior

dress or a 1970s Vivienne Westwood T-shirt, period pieces by wellknown

designers are becoming much sought after. Top Shop on Oxford

Street, London, has a whole fl oor devoted to vintage clothing and several

of London’s famous markets such as Portobello Road are good

hunting grounds for second-hand/recycled/vintage clothes. Many new

websites have been launched devoted to the buying and selling of garments

from another era. Ebay, whilst not exclusively selling clothing and

accessories, plays a big part in this desire for recycled fashion.

Environmentally friendly fabrics

During the late 1980s, when there was a sudden focus on environmental

issues, the textile industry was forced to improve its processes

as a result of increased legislation. It had become evident that environmental

damage was being caused by gaseous and liquid emissions

from the industrial processes of many producers, including textiles.

New legislation covers, among other things, the wet processing

activities such as dyeing and fi nishing. Already, many fi rms are spending

large sums to reduce gaseous emissions from their processes and

are investing in systems for recycling dyestuffs and other chemicals

and even water.

There is much misinformation in the media that natural fi bre fabrics

are best, leading many people to think that natural fi bres are good

for the environment and synthetics are automatically bad. Most of

this thinking is based on negative perceptions of the chemical industry.

Although natural fi bres biodegrade more easily, some give off

toxic gases as they do so. Some processes for making synthetic fi bres

are actually friendlier to the environment than those for making natural

fi bres, especially when energy and water usage are taken into

consideration.

It is not only the manufacture of the fabrics that is of concern, but

how they biodegrade after disposal. Germany’s leading clothing producers

have been working on a range of biodegradable garments.

While the textile industry is usually blamed for the unfriendly emissions

and wastage, it is arguable that the clothing manufacturers and

fashion designers should really be blamed. They are the ones who

dictate that strong dyed fabrics are required or non-crease products

that need to be made from the thermoplastic properties of synthetics.

The clothing and textile industries need to integrate their efforts

for the future.

Whilst the consumer does not often consider the manufacturing

processes, the desire for organic products, popular among food

Fashion Marketing

52

stuffs, has also moved into clothing. The use of organically grown



natural fi bres fulfi ls the needs of those with sensitive skin who react

to chemicals and those with a greater environmental conscience.



Fair trade

With such a large proportion of clothing imported from overseas,

concerns are growing regarding the working conditions within factories

in some Asian countries. Large organizations such as Marks and

Spencer and Nike have been accused of outsourcing to factories

using the so-called ‘sweatshop’ labour. Often employing children,

long working days in potentially unsafe and uncomfortable conditions

are demanded in return for very low pay. Companies need to be able

to reassure their customers that goods are manufactured ethically

and fairly by closely monitoring the factories that supply them.

Some smaller organizations use overseas labour not for their low

wages and ability to mass produce, but for the special skills that people

can offer in hand-made garments.

Green’ fashions

Green fashion can be viewed in several different ways. On a simple

level there is a growing movement against labels and conspicuous

consumption. Some people are shying away from dressiness and are

returning to basic clothing. Basics are usually part of traditional workwear

– they have a high degree of functionality, and are simply cut and

built to last. Doctor Marten boots and denim jeans are items of clothing

that could be considered to be following the green ethos of less

consumption as they are classic items that will not date and will only

need replacing when they have worn out. Some of these views are

shown in Figure 2.8.

In the late 1980s we also had the ‘ecology look’. Fabrics were natural

in both feel and colour. T-shirts available from the designer shop to the

local chain store were adorned with environmental messages. Coming

at a time when consumers had had enough of overt consumerism and

the Yuppie look, the ecology look fi tted in nicely as a contrast to the

structured silhouettes and wide shoulders of the previous fashion.

The controversy over who is to blame for the less environmentally

friendly fabrics, designer or textile manufacturer has not gone

unnoticed by some designers. Most denim producers have replaced

traditional chemical fi nishing by using pumice stone to achieve a

stonewashed fabric fi nish. These new fabrics and processes will cost

the consumer more. As with many environmentally friendly products

there is a confl ict of interest. Consumers and retailers seem to want

The Fashion Market and the Marketing Environment

53

new, environmentally sustaining products but are reluctant to pay for



the additional cost involved.

Friends of the Earth have produced ranges of ‘green’ fashions

using unbleached, undyed cotton. This satisfi ed the ecology issue

but not the fashion issue, and sales have been rather limited. They

were avoiding the issue by not using any processes rather than fi nding

‘green’ solutions to enable fabrics to be used for fashion items.

The next logical stage is for designers to now take these issues on

board. Many, such as Katharine Hamnett, are concerned about the fabrics

they use and are developing more environmentally friendly fabrics.

It has taken time for these to ‘trickle down’ to appear in the garments

stocked in high street shops and they still do not constitute a large

part of what we buy. One company, Edun, set up by Bono and Alison

Hewson aims to offer a clothing line for people with a social conscience.

They use organic fabrics, made up in environmentally friendly factories

with ethical working conditions.

Paris held the fi rst ‘Ethical Fashion Show’ in 2004 offering a platform

for ethical and environmental designers around the world to showcase

their clothing and accessories. Now an annual event, up to 50 designers

show to the increasing number of distributors who want to sell

designs that are ethically produced and environmentally friendly.

Another environmental concern for consumers is the risk of skin

cancer that depletion of the ozone layer and excessive exposure to

the sun may bring about. New ranges of beach and swimwear offering

UV protection of up to 97% are being seen at holiday resorts,

offering even more opportunity for Lycra.



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