It-Bags Versus IPods

With consumer habits under close scrutiny in efforts to, well, kickstart them to spend, WWD analyzes the advantage of tech toys and new gadgets to apparel when it comes to sales.  As clotheshorses, we'll admit we were surprised.

The illuminating article points out that as the pot shrinks, customers are spending their extra dough on toys like iPods and smart phones, rather than clothing.  Of course, it's not good for business but there's a reason for the shift, perhaps and thankfully so: We've evolved away from fashion's answer to the iPhone with the abandonment of the "it" bag that dominated several seasons and drained wallets for temporary highs.  Yes, the phenomenon was based partially on good design, yes, but also quite heavily, if emptily, on status.

Basically, the fashion industry has been served: It' time to innovate the business elements that drive the apparel market and catch up with the progress made on the design side. It's no small feat, since designers are always working months ahead of the consumer, basically guessing what the tastes will be season-to-season, and much of the inventory becomes "perishable" as tastes change.

Marsha Dickson, chair of the University of Delaware’s fashion and apparel studies department, even pointed out an inherent problem in the fashion community's unwillingness to collaborate (which seems odd, considering how much collaboration we'd thought we'd seen): “[The fashion industry is] very secretive," she told WWD. "That innovation that can come from working with others ... that unwillingness to be transparent and to be collaborative has probably limited the industry.”

All that said, it seems the holiday season went pretty well, so maybe between healthy sales and a little bit of eggnog, the execs in the biz will take note.

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