Fashion is nothing but a game in which all of us are involved. It is a different matter that the rules of the game may differ from person to person. These so called rules are not something written in any legal document, nor are they broadcasted on the net. Rather during the course of our lifetime we get to learn these by trial and error and sometimes by copying others.
If we look into the psychological aspect involved with the fashion business, we will find that people go after fashion for numerous reasons. Some of them may be with the feeling of either being part of a group or in stark contrast being entirely different from the group. Although in both the cases it is the psychology of the consumer that is dictating which fashion trends to adopt and which to reject, the result is as different as two magnetic poles.
Let us take the first case, where a consumer wants to be part of a group or we can say the consumer wants to have a sense of belonging. Generally this kind of behavior is seen in college kids, fresh out of school uniforms, with new aspirations and high dreams. This generation comprising of 16-20 year old ones is very eager to adopt to anything new which is happening in the market. They want to look fashionable and are ready to go to any lengths for that purpose. For example the latest shades of nail paints in rainbow colors, layered clothing, body piercing, tattoos and what not. Little do they think of the health hazards, financial relevance or the very basic fact that whether they look OK or not. What they want is that they should be accepted by their peers and treated on an equal level. Nobody wants to be treated as an outcast. This segment can be called as the ATBAGs (About To Be Adults Group).
This is also the generation which has been targeted by the marketing teams of various big shot brands of the fashion industry. It is easier to hook the fish in this case, because this segment can get very easily attracted to whatever the advertisements say. Just use the latest hot pop icon or the top favorite celebrity and half of your battle is won.
The second kind of consumer is a tricky lot. It comprises of the people in the age group of late 20s and early 30s. Now this segment is the one who has a mind of their own and who would think the pros and the cons before accepting or rejecting any fashion statement. This is the time when consumers start building their own image and identity. The image that they present to the society at large should justify their profession, their personality and to a large extent their individuality. People now become INDIVIDUALS with an independent fashion sense. The psychology here is that they have to be different from their peers so that they can be noticed. This individuality would then be acting like a ladder for both professional and personal reasons.
A different approach to this scenario is if we compare the society as a movie and the people there as various actors and actresses. Every actor would have a different role to play in the movie. We would be having a hero, heroine, villain, supporting actors etc. All these people will be required to dress differently according to the part they play. In real life also people play different roles. Be it in the role of a business executive, a homemaker, a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. The image that has been portrayed should compliment the role. This segment can be called as the YABIGs (Young Adults Becoming Individuals Group).
This fact has been aptly utilized by the fashion industry while planning their marketing moves as well as classifying their product lines. A consumer who is a CEO of a company by profession would obviously go for business suits from maybe Armani, Raymonds, or Louis Philippe. In variance to this a movie star would be dressed more casually and always ahead of fashion.
A minor point to ponder is the bracket in which the age group of "21-25 years" and "35 and above" falls into. The younger age group is basically in the transition stage where the consumer is still trying to find out his identity and his niche. So this group goes through a transition phase experimenting with various styles and trends. His friends and family play an important part in the formation of his identity. On the other hand the older group has already achieved his niche areas and identities as a result he becomes the so called "Loyal customer".
Going by the fashion terminologies, generally the consumers are broadly divided into three groups: the fashion leaders, the fashion followers and the laggards. Those who adopt a fashion statement way ahead of others would be in the category of fashion leaders, chiefly comprising of the celebrities. Fashion followers are the people who are wary of taking any kind of risks, so they first let the leaders adopt fashion trends and once that trend is acceptable and digestible, they adopt it. We can say, the fashion followers only tread in tested waters. Coming to the fashion laggards, this segment would adopt a trend way behind others, once formally it is no more a fashion statement and is on its path to decline.
These three groups are present among both the ATBAGs and The YABIGs. Both of them have their share of leaders, followers and the laggards. The marketing professionals and the sales team would definitely give importance to the leaders and to some extent the followers. But even the laggards cannot be ignored; after all they also contribute some amount to the sales figures. Consumers from all walks of life are part of this fashion business, whether they themselves believe it or not. A person might think himself to be aloof from the fashion game, but in actual he is very much present there. The entire society falls into at least one of the three segments. Once a person is sure about his segment, the choices for him become much clear, as straght away he can start his buying and purchasing from stores that fulfill his kind of requirements.
The bottom line is that everyone of us is part of this game called "Fashion". The key is to identify your role, understand the rules , and play your part the right way.It is sure the path to success as far is the appearance is concerned.
About the Author
The author is Faculty in Retail Department in Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI), Noida