We often look up to the consumers’ electronics industry as the most forward thinking and driving the technology revolution. Releases like the iPad shake up the media and our wallets, and often even change our life. I believe the clothing and footwear industry has the same potential to create buzz around new releases once they stop chasing after the old rules of releasing full blown collections twice a year. I touched upon it briefly in one of my previous posts, but would like to expand a bit further about the subject that can be game changing for this industry.
Imagine if Apple had to replace their entire inventory twice a year, releasing all new collection of iPads, iPods, notebooks, desktops and screens every Fall and Spring. Will they be able to innovate the same way they do now? Sure, they do upgrade their products and release new versions every so often, but if you look at the entire year you will notice one or two revolutionary releases that change the market, and sometimes our lives.
What if fashion designers or brands focused on revolutionizing our lives instead of chasing after trends someone defines for them? What if they invested their creativity in solving our everyday problems? You may say that fashion isn’t as technology driven as the consumers electronics market, to which I would answer “Yet.” Just because today our clothes are not functional beyond covering up our bodies, it doesn’t mean they won’t be 5, 10, 20 years from now. I’m not talking only about wired clothes, and sweat absorbing fabrics which the sports apparel industry seems to be adopting well (by the way it doesn’t mean it won’t be useful to have sweat absorbing fabrics for our dress shirts as well).
The point is there is so much more to invent beyond what we can imagine now. What about heels that make you walk two times faster? Or a universal dress that comes with fabric changing app? Or a body cooling statement necklace for the summer season? Are there designers out there that even trying to innovate beyond the choice of fabric, shape and color?
I believe this industry is just at the beginning of reaching its potential as life-changing and revolutionary. There is no reason our clothes won’t be as functional as some of the gadgets we covet. The problem is these days, as this industry is trying to adapt to the post-recession changes its focus isn’t necessarily on innovation and technological advancement of the products themselves. It seems like everyone is busy innovating their production processes and lowering the costs. While in fact they should focus on creating revolutionary products.
If there is anything fashion brands can learn from iPad is the fact that even today consumers are willing to pay $500 for a product that is well made and life changing. And if people are willing to pay $500 for a sexy gadget that does the same thing every desktop does, they will be willing to pay that price for an innovative item of clothing they will be wearing for years.
Another thing they can learn is that Apple has put lots of thought into the iPad. Is it worth investing the same effort in a dress, you might ask. I believe if this dress could be the universal must have dress for millions of people, I think so. If these shoes will shorten the commute time for millions of people, I think it is.
So why instead of focusing on one best seller, one product that they will be remembered for, designers today caught up in the endless cycle of sketching, producing, styling, bowing on the runway, pleasing buyers, gifting celebs, spoiling press, praying for it all to pay off and then repeating over and over every season?
Why not adopt the consumer electronics model and focus on creating a fashionable item so covetable that when it launches the entire world wants a piece of it?
How about instead of sending 10 coats down the runway a designer or brand will focus on one that is multifunctional, can address multiple climate needs and easily change appearance? A coat that will replace all the other coats a person ever owned because they won’t live up to the standard? It doesn’t mean everyone should be wearing the same coat from now on. It can still come in different fabrics and variations, but the product itself must be innovative in order to become the iPad of fashion.
Where are the fashion inventors of 21st century? The market is ready for revolution and there is no better time than now to start it.