Archive for October 2008
Ok, I guess that’s a bit harsh to say that there are upcoming sales on the calendar, but as you can imagine, I have no doubt that retailers will want to make up for their sinking profits this year.
Au Coeur De La Mode Nov 16th, 2008
This fashion charity event will hold its bi-annual sale at Palais Des Congres, where the $5 entrance fee will be donated to the AIDS Foundation. Once again local brands will hoist up theirs goods with prices slashed above 50% off. You’ll find a good mix of local and popular European brands like Miss Sixty and Horst. It’s a huge sales floor, so you can be there for hours.
Ogilvy en rose Nov 19th, 2008
This yearly charity fashion event will be hosted at Ogilvy on Ste-Catherine promising schmoozing and entertainment, as well as a 15% discount (in essence, sans taxes) on items sold on the floor. There will be of course a fashion show, some local celebrities, and a contest to win some prizes. Tickets are steep, $100 each. Funds raised will go to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.
Winners all year round
What can I say, this place is always on sale.
It’s no doubt that if the shrinking confidence consumers continue on, there are strong chances stores may close all together. Following lay offs in all corners of the market, one has to wonder who will be hit next. Even NRDC, owner of the recently acquired The Hudson Bay Company, will have to face some serious challenges in this dreary economic climate. On CNNMoney.com, Lord & Taylor recently replaced their CEO with a Neiman Marcus executive as they all brace for one of the worst holiday seasons in recent years. Bad economies could put the Hudson Bay Co. at risk of suffering more loses and reputation despite of their recent buyout.
Timing is of essence in business, and there are no worse timings than J. Crew’s recent store opening of their brand new high end store. Ouch. Let’s just hope Millard Drexler, responsible for launching The Gap into stardom in the 90s, knows how to weather this nasty financial storm.
As I’m clicking through Net-a-porter, my now #1 stop to dream and contemplate a purchase, has made me realize a couple of more reasons as to why this site is such a success.
Namely, it is a fashion magazine and online store rolled into one. Quite obvious I know, but a deeper contemplation made me realize that online stores in general do not necessarily have the written editorial to tout their new products in a magazine format. Think of reading Vogue and be able to buy exactly what they’re saying is the hottest item of the season on the spot, instead of dragging yourself to the store, hope the store actually carries the item, if not, special order, and go through all the hooplahs one might go through to get the item.
We’re a lazy generation. I admit that many of you probably enjoy the going through the entire “hunting” experience of getting what you want, but I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore our need for instant gratification.
Online stores like Saks, Neiman, Forever 21, Piperlime and Zappos display their array of products and merely announce new arrivals, not quite hyping them up like Net-a-porter does. It also helps that Net-a-porter suggests looks and combinations, and allows you to really zoom in and analyze in full detail parts of the garment since it isn’t possible to do so in person.
I’m not suggesting all stores should start posting online editorials – however, I wouldn’t find it too shabby as a strategy to get more people to buy the products, especially if the store is selling different brands. Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy could perhaps benefit of such a move, especially when Holts already establishes a relationship with their clients with their aggressive call-to-action weekly newsletter. If both stores could offer online shopping and free shipping delivery (for shoes to start), they could definitely boost sales in these harsh economic times. Shoppers tend to shift to online stores when the market is down, so it would only be natural to take advantage of the online medium to keep sales afloat.
With the right combination of marketing and savvy management of an online store and proper, relevant, editorial content, I think clothing stores should consider this as a Plan B.
Image Credit: Versace from Holt Renfrew
I recently bought this nice little short sleeve jersey top at Jacob after a frustrating and bored bout of window shopping. I have been in desperate search for some knitwear for winter, but so far yielded extreme polarities: soft and cuddly= expensive. Anything of cheaper pricing left me with goosebumps as my skin grated the unruly texture of cheap knitwear.
Until I came upon an uber soft fabric while browsing through Jacob. I liked how the fabric draped so well but most of all, felt so soft to touch. I checked the label and it said 95% Lyocell, a fabric I wasn’t familiar with, and 5% spandex. It had a slight sheen to it and was very comfortable to wear. I bought it for $40.
I did some research on Lyocell to see what would pop up and shot an email to Fabrics.net to find out more. It’s a fabric closely associated to rayon, made of wood pulp (pictured above), and is said to be more expensive as the chemicals and solvents used to make the fabric are environmentally friendly. Best of all, it’s a fabric that doesn’t wrinkle as much and isn’t affected by washing (yay!).
Peculiar behavior or in need of sales?
This season, we’re seeing a lot of double takes of designers choosing to showcase in both Montreal and Toronto’s fashion week. Designers like Andy-The Anh, Denis Gagnon, Lucian Matis, and Evan Bidell will present their collections for the second time next week at L’Oreal Fashion Week. I’ve also noticed a few designers who have jumped ships and decided to only show in Toronto, namely RUDSAK, Bodybag by Jude and Morales.
Could it be that the American buyers I had talked to last season were right? Designers are traveling to several tradeshows often showing the same collection again and again, in desperate need of buyers. Yet showcasing in a coveted Fashion Week is expensive, let alone two. Given that Denis Gagnon has been plagued with financial troubles in the past, I wonder how he was able to bounce back to two Fashion Weeks this season.
What does that say of the state of the Canadian fashion retail business? Are Canadian cities not doing enough to stimulate local sales? That in turn, it is forcing local designers to seek their fortunes elsewhere? New York Fashion Week, the circus that is has become, also generated a lot of concern this season by nearly squeezing London Fashion Week out of the calendar next Fall, and the city has become a viable target for talented emerging London designers. It would seem that Montreal, like London, is unable to keep its designers at home as they’re vying for the bigger fashion weeks where they know the media and buyers will be abundant.
Let’s just say – thank god for blogs!
The shuffling of the cattle (me and the public) and disorganization at MFW hasn’t changed since last season. It’s amazing how such a large number of people like to consider themselves ultra important therefore are allowed to cut in line and act like the prima donnas that they are. Learning from previous seasons, I repeated “patience is a virtue” to myself as I inched along to my awaited seat.
Andy The-Anh’s show was delayed 30 mins due to crowd mismanagement, but everything was cool once we filtered into the showroom. I was seated near the backstage, up on the last row in the bleachers. MFW figured out that bleacher seats were prime and labeled an entire section as “VIP”. I was not VIP, I was just able to sneak into VIP (nobody really checks except the front row).
As mentioned previously, the show is to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Society. Now, I have nothing against raising funds for cancer, but I do have a problem in trying to associate a fashion show with morose poetry reading. My only question is…with all the money the Breast Cancer Foundation receives every year, wouldn’t you think they would’ve found a cure by now? Or are the money grubbing pharmaceuticals really just jerking our chains in saying there isn’t a cure for cancer? That’s for another blog….
MFW officially kicks off Oct 13th with Aqua Di Lara at Koko Restaurant at the Opus Hotel, corner Sherbrooke and St-Laurent. Though most of the shows are for industry people only, MFW has made available two shows where you can buy tickets to attend.
Laboratoire Creatif is a union of over 100 local designers who share the same facilities to confect their creations. This season they will be collaborating to raise funds for women living with breast cancer. The show will happen Oct 16th at 7pm at Marche Bonsecours.
Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at Admission.com, type in “La Diva” in the search engine.
Andy The-Anh will be showcasing his Spring collection at MFW for an event called “Glamour” where all profits will be donated to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.
**Edit** The date for Andy’s show is Oct 14th at 9pm at Marche Bonsecours.
Regular tickets are $25 which will allow you to see the new collection and a chance to win a raffle
VIP tickets are $150 which will guarantee you a reserved seating inside the the runway show, a complimentary brooch by Andy-The Anh, admission to their private cocktail hour and a chance to win the raffle.
I know I said I wasn’t going to go to MFW, which is sort of true. I’ll actually be attending only this show and no one else’s since I’ve never seen Andy’s runway show and I might as well see one. I’ll be seated up in the back bleachers (where they have the best view after the front row seats, anywhere else has a pretty craptacular view).
But if you can get a “$500” dress at a mark down price of $230, somewhere down the line, retailers are still making a profit from that $230 price tag, albeit a smaller one. So it goes into question, what exactly is the real price of that “$500” dress? I came to this question as I was browsing the Forever 21 site, the US counterpart of an H&M fast fashion chain. There, hundreds of items are listed one by one, each sporting a cheap price tag. But as I further analyzed…what makes this tunic cheaper or more expensive than the one next to it? Who makes these prices and why are they so varied?
If you’ve read Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Some luxury bags are made with $250 worth of materials, yet are marked up to $1200 on the retailing floor. Of course, you’ll need a profit margin to pay for your laborers, distributors, rent, etc. But I mean, we’re talking about selling at more than four times the production costs.
Taking an example of Forever 21, they do the same, they mark it up “dirt cheap” to our eyes, at $20-$30 a garment, and can slash it as low as $14-$15 on sale. That means the piece is probably worth a mere $5 in production cost, copied and reproduced by the thousands. Wholesale is of course, always cheaper than retail pricing. You buy in bulk, you sell for more. This is really unsurprising, I suppose most consumers know this and don’t really care. This is how business has to be conducted right? To earn a profit, to earn a living.
I believe there are 3 factors that determine the price of a garment:
- Emotional attachment (labour of love)
- Production cost
Branding is an obvious factor that plays a huge role on consumer choices, why choose the Brita water filter instead of Evian’s bottled water?
Emotional attachment is connected to the designer’s love for a certain piece. Surely a more complex, hand embroidered, hand dyed dress, with a gazillion of embellishments will fetch a higher pricing. The more time a designer spends on it or loves the piece, the higher the pricing. I mean local Montreal designer Helmer made a dress out of toilet paper fabric and it was worth around $12,000, and we very well know that you can get a six pack of toilees for $7-$8 at the grocery store.
Production cost is obvious. Labourers of fabric usually get the short end of it as they have to sell the fabrics cheap for designers to buy them in larger quantities. More specialized houses will create unique more expensive fabrics, but in general, you won’t ever find the price of a garment equal to the cost of its materials.
As a consumer, the question remains the same: do you believe what you’re buying is worth it? This comes down to personal knowledge and taste. Some people are fine with Payless and others find that spending $585 for a pair of Christian Louboutin is highly justified (I am one of those people, and I own Payless shoes).
The truth is, there are clearly no right or wrong answers when it comes to determining the value of clothes (or any other product for that matter). It all depends on how influenced you are, how much money you’re willing to spend and if you feel any emotional connection to what you’re buying. I say if you love fast fashion, knock yourself out. Buy 100 outfits. Just pray you have a big enough closet to fit all of it in. For those of you who can’t live without the luxury of fine fabric, with $1800 Pringle of Scotland sweaters and $5000 corset dresses from Alexandre McQueen, enjoy it. Just make sure you really want it.