The Curious Case of the Gucci Loafer
In 2015, Gucci came up with a controversial loafer that was backless and had fur lining. According to an article by the Cut published in February 2018, Eva Chen, a former editor of Teen Vogue and Lucky magazine thought it looked ‘ridiculous’. However, when she spotted two style bloggers Bryan Yambao (Bryanboy) and Leandra Medine (Man Repeller) wearing these mules online, she softened her stance. Then she saw more of these on Instagram. She ended up buying these loafers shortly after. Today, these Princetown mules have become an integral part of Gucci’s permanent shoe collection. This buying behavior, as illustrated above, has become the industry norm, marking the end of the traditional fashion hierarchy.
Fashion companies, magazines, runway shows no longer dictate the trends. Instead, the consumers, represented by the bloggers in this example here, are the ones weighing in on fashion’s biggest trends. Consumers now have the power to make or break a brand. If it were not for these real-life examples, Eva Chen probably wouldn’t have caved in and gotten herself a pair. It has come to a point where certain prominent consumers have become co-creators themselves, working with fashion brands to create their own capsule collections, such as Aimee Song, a style blogger with eyewear brand Gentlemonster, and Chiara Ferragni, an Italian fashion influencer, with luxury brand Tod’s.
In a World where Consumers Rule
The emergence of social media and digital technology has given rise to a new phenomenon: the celebration of the individual. Successful brands like Nike and Glossier are spearheading this movement. Nike launched Nike By You, their customizable signature shoe series, where consumers can choose their model, logo and colors. Glossier, a social-listening beauty brand, launched their perfume, Glossier You, based on their blog followers’ favorite scents. The word ‘You’ in both product names seems to denote something: the products are no longer about ‘Us’ (the brands) but about ‘You’, the consumer. These brands are handing over their crown to their consumers. ‘You’ get to decide. And ‘You’ will set the pace for the industry.
The fashion paradigm has changed, and roles have been reversed. Consumers are now calling the shots and influencing each other with user-generated content. They go from one trend to another quickly, making it difficult for fashion companies to keep up. Today’s fashion companies have to listen to their consumers, decide quickly on which trends to capitalize on for collections, and develop their collections quickly. Whoever acts the fastest wins the game. And of course, they have to achieve this while keeping their brand DNA intact.
New Consumers, New Challenges for Merchandisers
The new consumer is presenting a new set of challenges for the industry, and it’s up to fashion companies to understand their buying behavior and adapt to them quickly.
The new consumer now expects:
- On-trend products to be delivered to them at a ‘See-Now-Buy-Now’ speed
- The perfect omni-channel retail experience
- Some form of personalization for their products
According to BBC.com, trend forecasting has become part of the production process for fashion houses, often right before the design stages. Merchandisers serve as catalysts in helping their companies jump on these trends quickly. By studying customer data and planning relevant collections for them, they are helping their companies ‘listen’ to their consumers, and put the consumer, the ‘You’, at the center of the business. Merchandising teams need to work with other teams to establish the right supply-chain mechanisms to bring these informed designs into reality quickly before their consumers move on to the next trend.
Wait…there is more to this.
Read our e-guide to know more about how modern-day fashion consumers are influencing production cycles for fashion companies.