Weekly Shop Report

Designers meet for group therapy session aimed at helping the confused consumer.

5 August 2009

The Council of Fashion Designers for America (CFDA), a not-for-profit trade association comprised of 300 of America’s top designers, had a forum-style candid conversation on the poor – excuse the pun – confused consumer last Tuesday. Designers, retailers and fashion journalists alike originally intended to meet on the relevance of fashion shows, the conversation quickly changed to a hyper talk on the vexatious course of the industry at large.

diane von furstenberg
Donna Karen Photo by Doug Goodman, WWD

“We design for the consumer, and right now I believe the consumer is completely confused,” said Donna Karen who went on to explain the disconnect between the industry and the consumer. Today’s recession-conscious consumer has been trained to purchase items on sale, so he or she waits until late in the season to purchase but by that the time the next season is out and shoppers are hesitant to buy items not in season. Consequently, retailers mark down items early. Clothes in season are not the clothes getting to the hands of consumers severing the connection between the runway and the shoppers’ purchases. It’s further complicated by early deliveries, over-shipping of merchandise, and rampant mark downs.

Suggested solutions centered on connecting with the consumer and opening lines of communication between retailers, the press and designers. The CDFA plans to form smaller committees to dissect the system.  Anna Wintour proposed one such committee to create a start date that retailers could begin marking down merchandise. Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA’s president, encouraged analyzing trade demands and considering the wants and needs of the consumer when making business decisions. Others suggested designers shipping smaller shipments more frequently to better accommodate consumers. Betsy Johnson concurred, suggesting playing up the consumer angle during fashion week.

For the consumer, this means designers are considering their needs and publicly recognizing their role in the industry more than ever. The media landscape has changed so much in the past five years. Access to information has made for a more savvy consumer, but also overwhelms the consumer who has trouble sifting though the massive amounts of competing information.The troubled industry has forced the CDFA and industry leaders to look at this, proving once again that bad times, however bad, can serve as a catalyst to progress.

Emma Dinzebach

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Posted by Emma Dinzebach at 11:08 AM
bargain news , STYLE/BEAUTY |

One thought on “Weekly Shop Report~~Designers meet for group therapy session aimed at helping the confused consumer.

  • August 5, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    This one will shock everyone I HOPE- “On another front, Anna Wintour, editor in chief at Vogue, suggested forming a committee that could potentially create ground rules on setting a start date for stores to discount merchandise. When an audience member challenged the legality of that idea, the Vogue editor said, “Well, is that something we can change? We have friends in the While House now” in reported by Rosemary Feitlberg and Marc Karimzadeh , wwd.com on July 29th, 09
    Is it me, or this just sound out of touch with what is happening with all of us right now? I understand that Ms Wintour might get dressed by designers for free, but the rest of have to buy things. Also, your friends in the While House Ms. Wintour cannot change the law, as the last time I checked this was still the US and laws are not changed by the President or his wife.


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