Greater prosperity heralds a new era of understated chic and über luxury. In a choice
saturated market, where the exotic is now ordinary, and affordable to a wider
audience, those choices are being perceived as having become too commonly
available. In every aspect of life, premium products have become
accessible to one and all. Because of this the number of early adopters of items has
created a new snob culture, where niche shopping is used to gain cachet. To counteract this, designers are
With more millionaires than ever, and high consumer confidence, the luxury
market is growing every year by at least 10%. For example,
LVMH expects to double their performance in the next five
years. Their profits for 2006 rose by 30%. Fendi in particular has
shown spectacular growth, but of course they are innovative.
Those design houses that can continue to innovate and refresh ideas for an
expanding market of luxury adopters, will be winners.
Purchasing wealth varies from those who are super-rich to those who are
comfortably off. In Europe,
especially in France, research suggests
the truly rich are seeking above all else the highest quality in fashion items. Demi couture is here and smaller designers may succeed now where once they may have failed.
The luxury market has no real ceiling. There is more
than one level of market for luxury, with sub levels of luxury products.
If you think £200 or even £2000 buys a luxury handbag, well it may well be for the
luxury level you find yourself at; but then there are woman who can pay £50,000
for a handbag. The two handbags are on different levels of
luxury goods. Read about high
luxury price ranges on my luxury
handbag page. The affordable, attainable luxury is the sort we
might find in
exclusive perfume ranges.
Designers such as Martin Margiela
owned by Diesel, make limited small runs of clothing, perhaps only 6 to 8 items of any one design. Martin Margiela has an Aristsanal line
where vintage clothes are reworked. For example, scarce raw materials such as
a 19th century huntsman's waistcoat is taken and reworked to create a
customized and very individual piece.
There is a resurgence of interest in the way the best of
British designers incorporate wearable street style into cutting edge
collections. This means that British Style has gained ground globally
and is attracting those who are affluent. Niche ranges satisfy small
targeted groups of clients.
Importantly it's not just consumers that fashion houses have
to satisfy. Buyers are fed up of the 'Must Have' and 'Want It' item.
This is being replaced by their search for unusual finds that can
make their store stand out as different and fresh. Niche
ranges are filling this gap.
The affluent seek an understated look of quality that can be decoded by
others like themselves, who are also early adopters of exclusive luxury products.
They require understated visual signals that spell
not just luxury, but discreet luxury. The most obvious signal is not of a logo plastered all over a
product, but of superb quality of
materials and the highest standard of workmanship.
There is a move away from youth worship and outfits as worn by Paris Hilton. Fifteen to sixteen year-olds may like it, but the look does not appeal to older women. The baby boomers
aged 40-60 have considerable discretionary income, 45-64 year-olds spend 25 billion dollars on apparel, which is a quarter of all sales. Companies have realized that older women featured in adverts
attract custom from baby boomers around 60 years old. By 2007 50 percent of boomers will be over 60.
Many are exceptionally wealthy.
There is a style shift away from tacky looks in favour of
leaner and sharper shapes, with even jeans becoming cleaner and leaner.
Even at high street level women with cash to spend, but
with already full wardrobes are likely to take more time to make a purchase.
They choose more carefully, trying to get it right by making a more considered choice.
Many are willing to pay a higher price rather
than returning goods from a department store that they perceive as not quite right.
Many women do not like walking around in a garment that can be still be seen in stores, priced and bought by others. These women will also be more fussy as they demand a better finish on goods.
This year according to Mintel research, sales of clothing through the
internet went over the £1 billion point. They say that since
2001 online sales of clothing and footwear have risen five fold. With
2006 having a 44% surge. The latter surge one can suggest may be due to
consumers having good earlier online experiences.
suggested before in my consumer mood trends pages on site,
customers are having a better
surfing experiences due to broadband expanding across the world in general and in the UK in particular. It is now easy to shop online for clothing. When I began
using the internet in the early 1990s shopping online was a
comparatively unsatisfying and laborious clunky procedure that
has been refined and refined and super speeded. Now e-tailers
combine their selling with targeted opt-in newsletters of all
the latest products as stock arrives on their database.
The high street is good at making hot fashion trends
available at accessible prices. Mintel found people use
the internet to shop for hard to find
sizes. Well I do this all the time myself. I believe
it's not just the hard-to-find size women seek, but the
combination of more forward looking fashions, the hard-to-find
colour choice. They are irritated when they shop the high
street, find just the thing they seek and discover that despite
it being early in the season their size has already been sold
from high street stockists with no more deliveries due as so
many shops now offer refreshed ranges.
It's not just a matter of getting a larger or small size or petite or
tall fitting, but a size that is in a desirable fashionable item. I also use
online shopping to try out new shapes. Volume has been a challenge to
get right. I really would feel less comfortable trying certain fashion
forward items on in a shop, but at home I can take my time to make a
decision. In the comfort of my own home I can avoid mistakes that
might be made under the pressure of an eager saleswoman. I can mix and
match a delivered item with garments in my wardrobe and easily check the
colour matching. Shopping online is also a boon for buying replacement
items like hosiery, underwear, umbrellas, sweaters and other straightforward
apparel. As far as I'm concerned online shopping is something I'll
continue to support.
Online retailers are proactive in offering niche markets what they seek.
If you have a self image that suggests you fit into the pages of Vogue you
might see your shopping needs met at Bergdorf Goodman or Net-a-Porter rather
than ASOS, NEXT or Marks and Spencer. But the online market caters for
everyone. ASOS is affordable for those who yearn to look like a
celebrity. NEXT and Marks and Spencer do roaring online business.
Each panders to its own market.
For example Net-a-Porter offers service because its clients are women who
don't need to face traffic. They pack and present items as if
the recipient were receiving an elegant precious gift. Except the
package delivered is a luxury gift to themselves. Online websites such
as these have been proactive in addressing the needs not satisfied by
traditional shopping mall stores. With some 60%+ of the USA female market
overweight at last online shopping means the needs of all body types and
purse strings are being met. Thin or fat, short or tall, poor or rich,
fashion is the way in which women of
today treat themselves to reward themselves in their busy
Shifts in consumer demands and heightened global communication does mean
fashion has become demystified for many. Access to the web allows
prices to be revealed and so are the outlets to buy rare or special goods.
It is therefore inevitable that there will always be a market which is
linked to how unobtainable an item may be under the guise of exclusive and
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