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April 21 2014

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Faster Than Fast Fashion

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We take our hats off to Marylou Luther, Fashion Group International’s creative director, who was able to come to a summation of the Spring 2010 collections in tweet format—140 characters or less. Here it goes: “Squeeze/ease. Goth/froth. Drape/shape. Reality/romance. Transparent/apparent. Undies outed/utility touted.” But as neat as Luther’s summation is, the panel discussion that followed it at FGI’s Trend Overview presentation was just as open-ended. Moderated by Donna Karan, the panel’s speakers touched on everything from the necessity of educating customers and salespeople about quality and inspiration to the phenomenon of information overload. Nothing was off-limits. Karan even introduced a seemingly untouchable topic when she went so far as to wonder if pre-season—which is shown intimately, is on the sales floor for a long time without markdowns, and generates the lion’s share of profits—should take the place of the Spring and Fall collections.

Timing, as they say, is everything. The experts worried that media-savvy consumers want the styles they see immediately and don’t account for what Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo calls “fashion’s gestation period”—that is, the time it takes to manufacture them. Ikram Goldman, Michelle Obama’s go-to woman, explained that she can be on a buy for the coming season and get a call from a customer already armed with look numbers from Style.com to request. (We think that’s pretty cool, but we’re not exactly unbiased.) There’s no solution in sight, but one thing is clear: Today’s fashion-hungry consumer has more outlets than ever to feed her yen for the latest news, and many think that’s a good thing. “We’re talking to the world now,” said Style.com’s Candy Pratts Price. As for too much information, there’s an easy solution for that: “unplug.”

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