Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Football's fashionable side

Fashionista doesn't often have cause to write about football but, with World Cup fever at its height as we reach the closing stages of the competition, Fashionista has considered with interest the opportunity for mass exposure which the world's biggest, most viewed sporting event lends to fashion brands.

Sportswear brand exposure is a given through official association: Adidas is the official event sponsor, producing the team kits for many including Germany, France and the hosts South Africa; Puma has Italy; Umbro has England; to name but a few. Understandable. Nothing extraodinary there.

Of much greater note is the publicity and widespread advertising reach which association with the FIFA World Cup bestows to less obviously "sporty" brands. Enter high street and luxury retail giants M&S and Louis Vuitton.

Fashionista thought the England squad looked oh-so-smart in their 3 piece suit by M&S. 4 years ago, our boys wore Armani. In a bid to be slightly more recessionista and to fly the flag of how great it is to be British, the England squad has partnered with one of our favourite national brands. What no doubt first appeared as a a great way to drive footfall and attract online sales is likely to have been derailed, first when key team members featured in the ad - Theo Walcott - failed to be selected to travel to South Africa, and then, as a result of England's dismal performance against Germany on Sunday.

Louis Vuitton may have escaped M&S's fate, since their World Cup product was only ever going to be associated with the winning team. LVMH were asked by FIFA to design a custom built trunk to encase the 18 carat gold FIFA World Cup trophy so that it could travel in style. The LV monogram is instantly recognisable, and viewers will not be able to avoid clocking the logo as the trophy - in its LV trunk - is carried onto the pitch for the final. The perfect example of a winning brand collaboration.

Whilst Fashionista is a fan of the beautiful game, she suspects that her eye may be on the customised trunk rather than what is inside it come the 11th of July...

Friday, 18 June 2010

New Collections? The Emergency Budget 22 June

It is amazing how fashions can change through the seasons. Fashionista recalls that only a few months ago red was the "in" colour.

One new collection/general election later and it seems that "blue" and "yellow" are now the "in" colours - but which of the two colours will dominate?

Darling is no longer the designer du jour; George & Vince are the new designers on the block.

Everyone expects the cuts in the George & Vince collection/emergency budget to be quite extreme, but just how extreme?

Will they help out their fellow designers and entrepreneurs by granting the "generous reliefs" from the increase in CGT rates that were previewed in the Coalition Agreement? Will retailers be hit by an increase in VAT rates?

As with any collection/budget, there is always a lot of speculation about what will be revealed on the catwalk/in the budget speech, but the level of speculation this year has been unprecedented.

Fashionista, however, knows the best place to enjoy the collection/budget on the day - the Olswang Budget Blog .

Fashionista hopes to see you in the front row!

Friday, 11 June 2010

From "Screen to Door" to "Screen to Store"

The FT report yesterday that ASOS are seeking partnerships with high street retailers as pick-up points has got our friends at eNova smiling. Fellow fashionista, Sophie Albizua, a multichannel advocate, has contributed this post to share her excitement with us. Sophie writes:

"The fact that home delivery can be a barrier to some consumers is no news and solutions such as physical drop boxes or collection store networks have been talked about for years. But no one has taken the click to brick plunge yet in any meaningful way. This might be the catalyst.

Pure online retail, in spite of all the hype surrounding it, possesses one fundamental barrier to growth; the fact that, as those of you who've been waiting around for hours for a parcel or had to rush to the post office before 5pm to get it know, home delivery is not convenient for many people working or leading busy lives. What still amazes us is the number of high street retailers who have an e-commerce arm that acts as a pure play, thus falling in to the same trap. Not that we believe you can’t have a successful on-line pure play, as ASOS has demonstrated.

Let's remember online retail only represents 7% of total UK retail sales and its growth is slowing down to mid teens and soon single digit numbers. We believe that the growth is in multichannel, where the purchase goes through the website but doesn't end there, which we and other market observers estimate will grow at over 20% p.a. over the next 5 years to represent 40% of total retail sales in the UK by 2013.

Fashion retail has ignored this for too long. Will the one that led the fashion innovation on-line, stir the debate once again? We hope that this will act as a call to action to other fashion retailers who have been shying away from click and collect models for too long. If ASOS feels the need for stores, those who already have them and are not linking them to their websites should reflect upon the missed opportunity that this might represent. Here's a crack at the answer for you: in our experience, properly executed click & collect should double your website takings within a year as a starting point.

Having created several of the leading order on-line, collect in store services, including Argos, Halfords and Boots, we suspect there are still a number of bumps that will need to be ironed out when trying to mould a home delivery set up with a store pick up as to not reduce margin. To this end, store based fashion retailers may still have an advantage if they get to grips with the opportunity sooner rather than later. Most importantly, let’s remember customers are the ones driving these developments, which will be the fastest growing part of retail for the next 5 years."

Is "click and collect" going to be the next growth area? Fashionista would love to know your views, so join the debate!

Monday, 7 June 2010

To be or not to be organic cotton

Calls for a definition of what organic cotton products are may have success! At least in Japan.

According to numerous sources on the internet, the Japanese government has issued a series of guidelines covering the labelling of organic cotton products distributed and sold across the country.

Fashionista has not yet seen the guidelines but it seems that they allow for the labelling of full organic content as well as partial organic content. Sources are divided as to whether the use of chemicals at the processing stage is also being considered with some sources claiming that the guidelines provide a fibre only standard while other sources claim that the guidelines do address processing input. Fashionista will be looking out for the guidelines and will report again.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Who owns your brand - you or your customers?

Any retailer that has survived the last 18 months has done very well and will be now looking at ways to attract more customers through their doors (both physical and virtual). With online sales continuing to rise, including social media elements into your online store is now seen as a "must-have". This may be a forum to allow shoppers to discuss their latest purchases or including an ability for consumers to leave reviews for particular products or stores.

Mary Portas has recently thrown her hat into the ring with the launch of a new website which enables the public to promote their favourite shops by leaving a review for them. While the terms & conditions make it clear that Mary's team will not pre-screen any reviews, they expressly reserve the right to remove material, no doubt to deal with unlawful content (e.g. libellous, defamatory or revealing confidential information) which may be reported to them using their "Report this Review" button.

While there can be no doubt that social media is is a powerful tool enabling brand owners to enlist the help of their fan base to do their marketing for them, giving your customers free rein with your brand is a risky business. Any brandowner contemplating the introduction of a social media element into their website should ensure they are aware of the potential risks, and have put in place strategies to deal with any issues as soon as they arise. In the virtual world, things move a lot faster and brand owners must be ready and prepared to tackle issues before they spiral into a legal and PR catastrophe...