Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still Dressin to Impress

Gen-Y and Youth Fashionphoto by mon of the loin on flickr

Like everyone else in the world I was at the mall the day after Christmas looking for sales. You dig through piles of Jeans and returned tees, sift through video games that didn't sell in time for Christmas and check out shoes that are never in the right size.

And I spent money. I spent on even the non sale items. Apparently so did many young consumers. And they didn't just spend it on that day either. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday through the holiday season and well, really through most of the year Gen-Y was still shelling out $100+ for jeans and shoes and buying tees that can ring in upwards of $30-40.

But who is having a field day, because numbers don't lie and Abercrombie sales are down 24% from last year and Gap is down 14%.

One study proclaims that young spenders are moving to more affordable, anti-luxury and everyday savings. The 2009 Consumer Shopping Intentions Study suggests that close to 60% of those aged 18-24 expect to spend at leaLinkst as much as they did last year.

Good news, but again for who?
Target recently launched a very successful campaign with Fast Company cover star and X Games phenom Shaun White that proved you don't need to spend Volcom money to look the part.
Threadless continues to make strides in the crowd sourcing tee shirt arena and has launched 9 shirts just this week. is another site that is doing well to showcase the ever popular with young folk tee shirt culture and acts as an aggregator between many of the large online tee shirt players.
Nike is always innovating and is their best when you get into customization. From mash-ups with countless indie culture players to the oh, so playful Nike ID, they are showing no signs of stopping their dominance in the youth fashion market.
American Apparel is still is leader and it may have to do with the fact that they pay good wages, produce goods right in California and have real life sex appeal.

What is going to sell?
Being young is about having fun and I see youth culture and Gen-Y going back to this. With budgets tightening, there is going to be more emphasis on fit and feel vs. exclusive and expensive. Customization is also going to play a big part in getting young people to open their pockets.

Aaron Crowe has this to say about thriving youth fashion house, the Buckle:
The clothing market is always a fickle one, especially among young shoppers, but Buckle has found its niche by staying on top of hot labels and using a "shallow and wide" inventory strategy. It stocks dozens of hot brands, but in just a few sizes for each style. New merchandise arrives daily in different colors or design as the items it replaces, preventing the social faux pas of seeing a friend in the same outfit.

Dressing Online
Shopping online is also another big player that has impacts on everything from malls staying open to skate shops carrying expensive gear with small margins. A key factor for brick and mortar clothing shops is to let Gen-Y and young people become part of your brand. If you listen and interact with them on their court, you can get them to come into yours, but you need to build that trust first.

Incorporate Youth Lifestyle
I have seen DJ's now in Bloomingdale's, G by Guess, Macy's and Nordstroms. I think by these brands reaching out to youth culture through lifestyle implications is an important move, however finding someone that resonates with youth culture and your corporate aesthetics is a bit of a challenge. In this case of Bloomingdale's it was a posh techno DJ in an urban section of the store. This can hurt your brand as much as it helps.

Teaming up with influential brands and creating awareness of your product and clothing lines is another aspect to consider. What about free Monster Energy Drinks with every pair of jeans? The No Fear store in a local mall gives away their energy drink with a minimum purchase and they kill 2 birds with one stone. Purchase in the store and a taste at a drink that continues the brand outside of the store. Link
Brands to Watch
I am no mind reader and instead of some brands to watch I will give you some blogs and sites to watch to find the clothing brands to watch! How about that for a turn of events.
HypebeastVapors Mag
Please Dress Me
PSFK - They are hosting a Good Ideas Saloon in London on Jan 30th - please go and tell me how it is! Tell them you heard about it from me and maybe they'll let me speak at the one in the states!
Kayne West - yess the rapper/auto tune abuser

So, now I turn the ball into your court. How are you going to be spending money on clothes, fashion and styles in 2009? Are you taking the budget route or maybe the expensive route with less trips to the mall? Will you be buying direct from designers, from big shops or from online dealers? Please sound off in the comments.

-Greg Rollett


Holly Hoffman January 21, 2009 at 8:50 PM  

i never did have a ton of money to blow on designer clothes. i don't have that much more now. i do the twice yearly trip to banana republic for work suits and such, then pepper in smaller trips. but i guess i'm more conscious of wasting money on stuff that's not going to last, like Target or Forever 21. I'm spending less and less at Abercrombie because those clothes aren't *functional* for me. I have to save my money for work clothes. Weekend wear will just have to make do.

Greg Rollett January 22, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

Thanks for contributing Holly. You bring up a great point with Forever 21. While they offer "hot minute" styles, their clothes are often cheap and their long term wear is not appealing to younger workers.

By 'functional' do you mean something that can be used for work and play? I feel most of what I am buying is something that I can wear in the office and at happy hour. With guys that is easier, as you can throw on a nice pair of jeans and a collar and be set for anything. But again, its conform and feel and reliability.

Anonymous January 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM  

"Don't be the Zune and play catch up, find an iPod and let people catch up to you. "
So, you're a whore, right?

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