The vast output and profi ts from the fashion industry come not from the designer collections seen on the catwalk but from items sold in high street stores. To put the impact of designers in perspective, one only has to note that the British Fashion Awards’ Designer of the Year will often have annual earnings that amount to less than a day’s sales for one large retailer in the Arcadia group.
Even so, the designer collections are given extensive coverage in the fashion press where each season more than 250 collections are reviewed within a matter of weeks. Reporting and promotion of these collections are suffused within hyperbole, excitement and genuine enthusiasm by many who attend, the catwalk exhibitions being viewed with a range of perceptions from incredulity to sheer entertainment.
However, few people see the direct link that some less experienced commentators assert exists between the garments on the catwalk and ‘what we will all be wearing next season’. The infl uence of the designer collections on everyday apparel purchases is complex and will be considered in later chapters on the fashion consumer, product design and fashion promotion.
The main concern of fashion marketers is therefore the design and sale of garments to the majority of the public, for that reason, the techniques described in this book will concentrate on high street fashion rather than haute couture.
What fashion marketers do: fi ve examples
To give an overview of the sort of activities that fashion marketing personnel engage in, fi ve examples will be given. A key point to note is that job titles do not always accurately reflect what people do. In fact, few people are called fashion marketing managers, but many carry out functions that are fashion marketing, e.g. those with job titles such as selector, merchandiser, sales executive or public relations consultant
Fashion marketing research
A fashion marketing researcher may investigate the market shares of competitors and trends in those shares. Through a group discussion with potential consumers they may discover that a possible brand name has negative connotations and needs rethinking
Fashion product management
A design manager may be concerned with producing a range of shirts for a major retailer. The shirts must co-ordinate with other garments such as jackets, trousers and ties, all of which may be provided by other manufacturers. The design manager must collect and pass on information to ensure that designers are adequately briefed. Later the manager will be required to sell the designs at a presentation to the retailer, usually in the face of fi erce competition. The design manager’s knowledge of the retailer’s customers and an awareness of his or her own company costs will enable an effective marketing function.
A manufacturer of corporate workwear may have produced a range of clothes suitable for staff working in small independent restaurants. After careful research and planning the manufacturer may decide that a brochure is needed as part of the promotional effort. The brief to be given to the person preparing visual and textual material for the brochure will include an estimate of the number of brochures needed and a list of addresses – essential fashion marketing tasks
An owner of a retail outlet selling her own specially designed millinery wishes to expand. She needs to research a few options including franchising her business, obtaining concessions in selected department stores and linking with a leading womenswear designer to produce new complementary ranges each season. Marketing research and analysis of the status of the business along with the preparation of a future marketing strategy are the major fashion marketing activities needed here
Fashion product positioning and pricing
A major retailer discovers that a competitor is selling imported silk lingerie similar in design and quality to its own, but at prices that are 20% lower. A fashion marketing decision must be made about the positioning and pricing of the product, taking into consideration the strategic goals of the company as well as the price sensitivity of its customers