Fashion retailing, is going through a magical makeover, poised for a commercial change.

The journey of fashion retailing has gone through a magical transformation during the past years. In earlier times, people used to go to a trading post to shop. Later these posts evolved into general stores where items from food to fabric were sold. With no readymade apparels available, only fabric was sold, which was tailored into garments with no knowledge of fashion. With the span of time, general stores were accompanied by limited line stores selling clothes. This later evolved into specialty stores which retains its name till today. Retailers then felt that it would increase their profit margins if they could feature more than one product, and this led to the birth of departmental stores.

Nature of the Market:

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The driving force behind the transformation of the retail industry is the customers emphasis on fashion. The attributes of the customer dominate the market, generate sales, and manipulate the profit margins of retailers. Fashion retailing is a consumer goods market characterized by short product life cycle, consumers changing choices, and cut-throat competition. Cities such as New York, London, Paris, and Milan lead as fashion capitals because they are capable to acquire information on future trends, upcoming trends in advance, and fashion themes. They interpret the collected information, and prepare their collections by analyzing the interpreted information.

Pricing Strategies:

Pricing strategies for fashion retailing depend on various factors. Market pricing is done based on the market character of the city; whether it is a metropolitan, urban sub-urban or small city. Market specific prices are determined based on whether the product is a national, store or generic brand. Product specific pricing is determined by the perceived value of the merchandise, their price, and the size of the market (middle or premium).

Searching and Matching:

Upper class society people are usually the leaders of new fashion trends. Fashion that is usually adopted by the creamy section of the society trickles down to the lower classes. Simultaneously, apparels that are mass produced will be marketed to all socio economic classes. Fashion diffusion brings apparels to all classes of customers at the same time. Many new styles emerge seeking the acceptance of customers. Styles that are more preferred will gain competitive edge over the others. Furthermore, the designers prestige further endorses the product and motivates customers to accept the trend.

Trends in Fashion Retailing:

The thumb rule for fashion retailing is to understand the customers preferences, and investing time, money and efforts to make and market the right kind of merchandise. This will allow the apparel brand to grow beyond its appeal.

C:\Documents and Settings\megha\Desktop\Copy of untitled.JPGShrinking timelines: The most significant trend to be observed is that the time between creations to the retail market has shrunk considerably. Earlier, the designs unveiled in the fashion shows were available in the market only during the following season. Designs were also seasonal such as summer, winter, and spring collections. But currently, fashion designers have adapted fast fashion trends that facilitate companies to design, manufacture, and transport finished clothes to the retail store within a month, whereas the same activity took almost 6 to 12 months earlier. Changes in the fashion industry have contributed to the emergence of fast fashion trends. Apparels are designed keeping in mind the new and youthful culture.

Choice of Lifestyle: Association of customers lifestyle will also define the future of apparel sales. Demand for apparels related to wellness, outdoor, and sports activities are increasing with every passing day. This trend will have a huge impact on fashion retailing. In earlier times, sports apparel mainly meant cricket apparels. Association with cricket was the only way for retailers to sell sports apparel. But currently, sports apparel has a wide assortment of choices, and is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing categories of fashion retail. Separate apparels have arrived in the market for various sports activities like yoga, skiing, running etc.

E-commerce growth: Spectacular growth of e-commerce will have a profound impact on fashion retailing. A significant increase in the number of people accessing internet also fuels the growth of fashion retail. Social media platforms also enhance the growth of the sector. Through online options, global fashion trends can penetrate quickly and deeply into the consumers minds. Concurrently, possibilities exist, that, they get replaced even quicker than that. Success through online options is for those retailers who are able to attract the attention of the young population, and dominate them.

Fashion retailing has changed the way global retail industry functions. In the coming years, it will grow beyond the realm of apparels, permeating many other categories. Success in this segment comes to those retailers who focus on the lifestyle choices of the customers rather than simply attempting to market their products.



2.      Images Business of Fashion, September 2012.