Iâve been thinking about how to write this post for quite some time but after reading todayâs (Thursday) Wall Street Journal, I got all excited and decided today was the day Iâm going to blog about this.
Ms. Teri Agins, the reporter who covered the article entitled The Future of Luxury: Custom Fashion, Cheap Chic talks with Tom Ford, arguably one of the most influential designers of today and former creative director of the Gucci Group. I agree completely with Ford as to his statements and analysis of the fashion marketplace:
- In a shift from the era of mass luxury, consumers are demanding ever more uniqueness and customization in fashion.
- As high fashion becomes more democratic, with designer clothes available at Target and Wal-Mart â everyone is capable of pulling off a stylish individual look.
Today, however, consumers no longer want to have the same thing at the same time. âNow everybody wants to have something different,â? Mr. Ford says. âA woman doesnât necessarily want the same bag her friend has. That is part of the appeal of vintage fashion- you donât see yourself coming and going. Itâs something that you found.â?
Lets now pull back from this article and apply a little Darren Herman analysis.
Lets first approach this from the online media space perspective: consumer generated content and customization of the web. Sound familiar? Consumers now have the ability to customize their news (thru RSS feeds), create start-pages (yourminis.com), post videos (youtube.com), create avatars (oddcast.com), and tons of other opportunities to make the web their own. Isnât web 2.0 all about making the web your own? In the advertising world, many brands are looking at ways in which consumers can interact and engage with the brand in new ways, not through traditional means.
Canât we relate this to what Tom Ford is saying in the fashion world? Yes. We have finally reached a time in which the world is about âme.â? Not just about Darren Herman, but lately, Time Inc. says, You. Last year, Reinier Evers talked about the term MEdia. The trend in media is to make it about me. We have now reached the time in fashion where we can go mainstream and allow shoppers to customize their clothing in ways never technically available [to the mainstream] before.
Customizing the color, amount of pockets, fabric, patterns, logo, on a per fashionista basis is now available. The only leverage a consumer had with a brand was sizeâ¦ now, if we want 3 pockets instead of 2, or green leather instead of brown, we can now get itâ¦ and this isnât just for celebrities any longer. It may take a little longer to receive the actual item you are buying (may have to mail it to you or pick it up in the store), but you know that youâll be getting a customized article of clothing for a realistic price.
In 1999, a company called CafePress.com came out of the wood-work and emerged as a leader in the online customized clothing space. CafePress allows anyone to be a fashion designer (most people create t-shirts) with a simple to use interface that creates a storefront for online purchasing. If you have an idea for a t-shirt or a drawing pre-made, you can upload it in minutes and people can be purchasing from your online store.
The best part of CafePress is that the designer does not have to hold inventoryâ¦ itâs printed on a per order basis. No overhead. Genius. To give you an idea of what type of volume CafePress is doing, as of December 2005, they had over 22 million unique items for sale. Itâs now over a year laterâ¦I think itâs safe to assume that there is demand for customized clothing.
I predict that youâre going to be able to order customized fashion (from Gucci to H&M) at any of the stores that youâd likely to purchase that specific item from. Department stores are going to become faux design laboratories â where you can go and customize any item of your choice. When I was walking around a department store in Zurich, Switzerland, in the Spring of 2005, they had a shoe display where you could customize your strap and cork bottom. It was genius! Within 5 minutes, you could pick out all the parts to your new shoe and have it assembled on the spotâ¦ imagine the mashup possibilities when Nike and Gucci start sharing parts. Comeâon, a Nike sole and Gucci straps would be hotâ¦ ok, maybe not.
Nike is already in the game with Nike ID. Have you customized your sneakers yet? Lands End, one of Americaâs conservative brands is being proactive in the online worldâ¦ custom clothing. Check it out. What about your brand?
What Iâm trying to show in this post is that the fashion world is following the web. On the web, we want it our way â built for us. Every piece of consumer generated content defines who we are… from your Oddcast avatar to your MySpace profile page. In fashion, what we wear helps define who we are as well. Today, the trend in fashion is coming that we can customize anything we want for ourselvesâ¦ and itâll be readily available. Imagine the world reversed where we start with a white t-shirt for $15 and if we want to include the Nike swoosh, we subtract $2 as Nike will pay us to wear their logoâ¦. branding at itâs finest and money well spent from Nike.