I’ve been shopping for a tardis on eBay this week. I figured that a time machine is the only way I’m going to manage to keep up with this crazy, fabulous industry.
My search was prompted by the news that Prêt à Porter in Paris is moving from September to July. So now we are expected to sample and market designs that may well still be selling in store more than 12 months later. Fairly soon we’ll be able to call clothes vintage before they have even been bought. My only hope is that the momentum will go full circle and I’ll finally be able to buy a coat when it’s cold outside.
Yet on the high street we are seeing continued pressure to design and shift stock ever-more quickly. Obviously it’s a lot easier if you’ve got massive resources and much of your design is ‘borrowed’ from other labels. And who cares if it costs the price of a prawn sandwich and falls apart in two minutes, with no thought for ethical and environmental considerations?
So now I must decide how to react. Well, as a designer label we have to respond to the market, so we will just have to get samples ready even earlier. But as a store we are responding to our customers’ needs by bringing in more non-seasonal items such as homewares, which have a longer shelf life, but coupling these with more short-run styles to keep the shop fresh.
Just for fun I might pop back to prehistoric times to have a look around. No doubt I’ll come across a cave dweller complaining: “I know it’s cold outside, but I just can’t wear that bear skin – it’s so last season.”
Simon Beales is managing director of Brighton independent designer womenswear store and wholesale label Sarah Arnett