Coco Chanel once said: “Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Most of us have an inherent need to be accepted and will alter the way we present ourselves and our buying habits accordingly. Over history, the following of fashion and trends has been more about personal validation, self-expression and social acceptance rather than practicality or economy.
Today, is this still the case?
In the present economic climate, there appears to have been an adjustment of values from the everyday consumer. The onset of the global financial crisis (GFC) has been a driver for shifts in the ‘luxury vs. necessity’ boundaries.
… the latest essential fashion accessory is a social conscience
Visit any city, anywhere in the world and the state of the global economy is apparent. The large, glitzy high-end stores remain empty – an indicator of the luxury market struggling. This is perhaps a reflection of people chasing practicality over ostentation. More consumers are becoming aware of the fact that big-name brands with big price-tags to match don’t necessarily mean better quality. Nowadays people desire and expect value.
Business guru and author, Costas Kataras points out: “Brands are no longer about products, services or experiences but have risen to a ‘pseudo-status’. There is deep engagement of the human psyche with brands. The consequence of the human encounter with brands by far exceeds the simple transaction at the shop, and affects the future of society and its well-being.”
In an economy fuelled by uncertainty, cash-strapped consumers are favouring simple pleasures, frugality and conservation over extravagant indulgences. Materialistic culture has been rejected and even people who have the money to spend, appear much more hesitant about showy displays of cash.
It seems the latest essential fashion accessory is a social conscience.
‘Eco-chic’ is a term that has become increasingly prevalent. Defined as combination of trendiness and environment, being eco-chic is not just a look, but a mentality. Nowadays it seems as though purchase decisions have less to do with the prestige of the brand and more with the practices of the brand.
Consumers are steadily becoming more environmentally and ethically aware and companies that aren’t responding could risk their reputations and customer base. Arguably, over time, the most compelling designers and successful brands are the ones that engage with the zeitgeist. Those that fail to do so, risk being viewed as irrelevant, conceited or just imperceptive.
But do these existing ideologies of frugality and eco-responsibility represent an enduring change, or yet another passing trend, only to become out-dated?
Though economic trend forecasters would like to have us think otherwise, no one can definitely say when the next economic upswing will be. As for fashion; with the only definite being perpetual change, we’re always asking: ‘what comes next?’ Funny, as this is a question that isn’t too different to what economists are asking at this very moment.