By dropping its fall ad campaign in the July issue of American Vogue (out in June) and starting the party a month earlier than is traditional, Oscar de Renta is apparently irking the competition which won't have their fall campaigns appearing until the August issues.
"We have delivered at least of 85 percent of our pre-fall collection, and within the next few weeks we will have delivered a major portion of the runway collection," Alex Bolen, president and chief executive officer of Oscar de la Renta, recently explained to Fashion Week Daily about the campaign, which was shot by Craig McDean. "Our business is all about getting the early sales; our customer is all about newness. And if we can be there first, we will get those sales." The fact that cozy knits and heavy layers are being marketed without regard to something as mundane as the actual weather (steamy mid-summer in the Northern Hemisphere) is, like it or not, simple fashion industry math. "When that July issue of Vogue drops, we're going to pick up some early fall selling that other brands may not," noting that early delivery = early sales, which is the reason they held their resort show two weeks earlier this year.
The problem with this weather-impervious fashion approach is that consumers have learned if they wait long enough, the end-of-season markdowns tend to coincide the actual changes in the weather. As fall weather hits, the fall clothes are just on going on sale (ditto spring), which is a much more appealing and intuitive way to shop. However, by training shoppers to wait for the sales, retailers are forced to mark everything down to sell it. Obviously, this is a harmful cycle, creating more and more inexpensive McFashion from cheap labor in inhumane sweatshops.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of enlightened forward-thinkers like Natalie "Alabama" Chanin (formerly of Project Alabama) who are keeping the artisanal part of fashion alive with a grass roots approach. Her designs, hand-embroidered fabric, jewelry, and housewares using organic and recycled products are made by hand in thriving local communities.
However, whether these type of businesses can survive & flourish rests with us, the fashion-buying community.
- Lesley Scott
(photos: Oscar de la Renta runway photos - style.com; sweatshop - New Internationalist)
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