For an industry that thrives on change, it’s surprising how conservative we are. Trouser shapes may alternate between narrow and flared and hemlines may move up and down, but the commitment required to shift buying cycles sometimes seems a risk too far.
Still, whether we like it or not, there is movement. That over-hyped concept – transitional fashion – has arrived by stealth. Pre-collections account for more than 60% of the seasonal buy in designer brands these days, leaving the catwalks to act as a marketing vehicle for accessories. The insane popularity of the fashion celebs photographed in their latest outfits, from Kirsten Dunst to Sienna Miller, enables retailers to introduce key looks at any point in a season.
And then there’s the weather. This summer, women who were unable to find the right solution in-store ended up mixing their winter and summer wardrobes in completely new ways. Score one for the stylists who taught them how to do it in Grazia.
The two-season cycle may shape the way the industry organises itself, but would consumers really choose to buy this way? Shopping for fashion should be about desire and need, not about when it is convenient for manufacturers, designers or retailers.
The challenge for the high street remains the same: to delight and inspire customers every day. Luckily, there are enough key items this season – from coats and metallic dresses to the indispensable black polo neck (WGSN styling tip: layer that black polo under a satin dress for daywear) – to keep the shop floor looking fresh, one transitional package at a time.
Juliet Warkentin, content director, WGSN