Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. Just by lindayy


Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. Just

More Info
                          Geoffrey McDonald Bowll (pictured with junior art
                          director) is MD of The Starship, a Melbourne-based ad
                          agency. Besides running mainstream campaigns for 10
                          years, he has conducted hundreds of marketing and
                          advertising research projects for major corporates.
                          Email or call (03) 9428 4411.

Fashion victims
           ashion. Fashion. Fashion. Just         you’d look anything other than plain        >>And while I’m on a roll, the whole      But where would we be without fash-
           the word gets the testos-              stupid in that outfit.                      industry claims creativity and often      ion? Wearing furs and holding clubs.
           terone flowing. You picture            >>Most of us reading this are twice their   delivers the demonstrably unoriginal.     How would you be on a hot day? If
           pert breasts, nipples break-           age. So far from the pinnacle of the        It screams differentiation and does       there’s one thing that separates us
ing through flimsy fabric as legs                 fashion world we may as well be on          exactly the same look, only just in       from the animals, it’s the fact we
dance forward. Long legs. Thin thighs.            another planet. But it is fun thinking      front or just behind its competitor.      know how to dress.
Pushing sexy, silky skin that breathes            about it, and especially working in it.     The whole industry lives on being in      >>And isn’t fashion great for a mar-
through full, luscious lips, pouting              >>It’s so aspirational. So aligned with     the middle of the tribe. At the leading   keter? You can throw out the rule-
below high cheek bones, underscor-                the tribe, the flock. The word ‘fashion’    edge but not in front of it.              book and do the blinkingly crazy and
ing grumpy, take-me-to-bed eyes and               means ‘to copy’. To do in a fashion.        >>Those who do original ideas are         it works. The madder, the better. The
framed by sensational, powerful                   And like the word that’s so often           often leapt upon by the crooks who        dumber, the smarter.
hair. Wired to the wall. A Barbie doll            associated with it, it’s often about vic-   run the big manufacturing bases.          >>You can brief a photographer to
on speed.                                         tims. And making people into them.          They steal their ideas and mass pro-      make that gorgeous 16-year-old
>>It’s up. It’s now. It’s 19. It’s so perfect,    >>Successful fashion is about making        duce the look way before the origina-     model look like shit, shooting her in
so slim, so sharp. So, so desirable. We           people feel less of themselves.             tor gets a chance to benefit from it.     bad light. Not show the product, use
all want to be fashion. We want her or            Fashion marketers make people want          In no other industry is ‘derived from’    an ineffective media and refuse to
him. We want to touch them, do                    what they can’t have and have what          such a way of life. In adland we’d sue.   massage the retailers to get decent
them, worship them, defile them.                  they can’t fit into. It’s about changing    In fashion, they just accept it. (And     distribution, tell the magazine editors
Own them. Own what they are wear-                 looks as they are becoming accepted         they all say they did it first.)          to get lost and not reliably supply
ing and look like they do when they               so anyone other than the chosen few         >>Because of this theft, often the only   those few retailers who do order.
aren’t wearing anything. You know                 always feels they are at the back of        way to make big money is in com-          And women will clamber over
you can’t do it. You know you’ll never            the pack. Ask yourself how many             pletely unrelated products, like          broken glass to look that bad and
look that good. That god-like. And                women at the races, the ball, the           scents, which go through                  tell the whole room what they are
you know you wouldn’t get to first                party, the mall, actually feel they         completely unrelated retail chains,       wearing. Suddenly you’re famous.
base if you sidled up to that model at            have the look exactly right? One per-       like pharmacies.                          >>Then what you do is launch
a bar or a party. And there’s no way              cent? If you’re lucky.                                                                a perfume…

4 2 M A R K E T I N G J A N U A RY 0 4
                                                                                                                                               ILLUSTRATION BY NICK GEORGITSAROS

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT                       IT INFLUENCES ALL OTHERS                   >>Typically this is done by just select-   what pose, which items/people they
FASHION?                                  The fashions on the streets influence      ing the most beautiful person an           are near, lighting etc.).
                                          what sells across everything from          agency can find, who hasn’t been
IT’S ONLY A BRAND                         household products like sheets or          flogged to death by the competitors        BRIEFING A PHOTOGRAPHER
Sorry, label. The fashion business is     lights to mobile phones and cars.          (best to find an unknown, but some-        The best thing to do is to get a young,
all brand. There is simply no differ-                                                times the label is so blasé you need a     hot photographer, go along to the
ence between a t-shirt for $10 at         IT INFLUENCES HOW THEY                     supermodel type to give it some            shoot, but essentially let them do it
Target or $100 at Rich, except the        BEHAVE AND THINK                           credibility), and make sure they           themselves with a minimum of assis-
label on the t-shirt and the label on     People think and act differently           will look OK in the client’s               tance. This is what all the fashion-
the store.                                depending on what they are wearing.        selected garments.                         based ad agencies do. Your input is in
                                          To take an extreme, the guy who’s                                                     guiding and selecting, not creating
IT’S A BRAND ABOUT HIM OR                 well-behaved and a bit quiet in a suit,    CHOOSING MODELS                            the look. Be careful to watch the pho-
HER, AND WHEN                             becomes a grope and giggle monster         Only the gorgeous will sell fashion.       tographer’s technical expertise, how-
Being the ultimate branding exercise      in a t-shirt. If people are wearing flo-   No one buys an item from an ugly           ever, as many a day has been spent
where the subtleties are so fine, the     rals and flares, they are more inclined    model. (Sorry, Ms Minister for Political   in an expensive re-shoot because the
psychological make-up of the cus-         to smoke weed and engage in free           Correctness.) Because it’s about what      agency or the client didn’t watch the
tomer is critical. The person, the time   sex than if they are wearing Versace.      they want to be, not what they are.        exposure levels, the shapes, etc.
of day, the circumstances of the                                                     >>You have a look-see. The modelling       >>Another approach is to brief an old
occasion, whether what they will be       HOW TO DO FASHION                          agency sends around half a dozen           ‘fashion guru’ photographer, which
wearing goes with the flowers, the                                                   whose head sheets you’ve marked.           means you’ll probably get three or
music, the car, all has an impact on      THINK BRAND                                The model(s) put the clothes on. You       four more shots you can use out of
what gets chosen and where he or          Think which part, of which tribe, at       do a few Polaroids. You cut the            the day, but you risk not getting the
she shops. This flowing variety of        what time of day, where. Find the          choice down to two or three. The           right inferences for a younger market
uses and wants makes it the hardest       dream person for that part. Is s/he the    boss/client approves them or not.          for obvious reasons. It does depend
market there is to get right.             face of…?                                  >>You work with a photographer to          upon who your target market is.
                                                                                     decide on the shoot (location, angles,

                                                                                                                                           M A R K E T I N G J A N U A RY 0 4 4 3

NEVER SMILE                               WORDS                                       DON’T TREAT YOUR                            UP YOUR PRICES
Nobody buys an outfit from a smiling      Fewer are generally better. Use             CUSTOMER WELL                               Unless you’re a Target or Myer, you’ll
model. If she smiles at you, she’s        meaningless, emotive words like             If you do, the fashion buyer will run a     make more money if you charge
approving of you. Which would mean        ‘banned’, ‘confidence’ or ‘young and        mile. Who gives a fig if the women          more for your items. The cheap and
you’d be doing OK, not needing a          free’ (Country Road’s recent attempt        say the prices should be lower or the       nasty does not sell anything like the
fashion overhaul. However, if she         to deliver their old clientele what they    sizes ought to fit in focus groups? If      unit volume of the expensive. I know
glares, pouts or doesn’t notice you,      are seeking). With men, intricate           you do that, the fact is, they won’t        this doesn’t make sense. But try it. If
she’s not approving of you. Which         detail on the practicalities of a design,   buy. It won’t be beyond reach.              it’s selling, double the price. The
means YOU have to do better. Like         its heritage etc. does work – particu-                                                  retailer will buy it anyway if it’s in
copy her. It’s basic primate behaviour.   larly with casual (Rivers, RM Williams)     PLAY AROUND WITH SIZES                      demand. They know the same
It’s about power.                         outdoor/sports (Kathmandu/Adidas)           If you want word-of-mouth amongst           woman who won’t pay an extra 40
                                          or business clothing (Henry Bucks).         older women (over 25), put the sizes        cents for the Australian cheese, will
                                                                                      on the wrong items, so they can tell        not hesitate to pay $400 for a pair

AND ISN’T FASHION GREAT                                                               their friends how ridiculous it was for
                                                                                      a size 14 to be so small or how
                                                                                                                                  of shoes.

FOR A MARKETER? YOU CAN                                                               excited they were because they fit
                                                                                      into a 10 in your label…
                                                                                                                                  TARGET WOMEN
                                                                                                                                  Men don’t buy women’s fashions.
THROW OUT THE RULEBOOK                                                                                                            Most men don’t buy fashion at all.

AND DO THE BLINKINGLY                                                                 KEEP YOUR COSTS DOWN
                                                                                      Screw all your suppliers. Media,
                                                                                                                                  Women tell their men what to buy, if
                                                                                                                                  they don’t actually buy it for him. And

CRAZY AND IT WORKS. THE                                                               agency, fabrics, machinists.                forget ‘metrosexuals’. There are too
                                                                                                                                  few of them and no male will admit
MADDER, THE BETTER. THE                                                               GO TO A BLOODY AGENCY, SILLY                to being one. (I’ve just done a survey

DUMBER, THE SMARTER.                                                                  Designers always think they can
                                                                                      design and do everything. I wonder if
                                                                                                                                  on them.) Yes, there’s a pink dollar
                                                                                                                                  but it’s only a small market. If it’s your
                                                                                      they do their own tax? The exceptions       niche, fine.
USE VISUAL MEDIA                          DO OPENINGS                                 are the big retailers like Just Jeans
Use TV (Just Jeans, West Coast),          Nothing better for a fashion label than     and West Coast, etc. which have let go      NICHE EVERYTHING
magazines (big spreads of advertorial     a good party with lots of models, pho-      of this control freak existence and         All fashion is niche. Tribes. Ages.
are best), outdoor (especially street     tographers, celebs and lines, pills, bot-   done better by getting help in creative,    Purposes. Roles. That’s why getting
posters, e.g. Feathers, Mooks, Country    tles of stuff and great music. But I        but it’s sadly rare in fashion land.        the shot right is so critical. Where are
Road, David Lawrence), get your           wouldn’t worry about the food much.                                                     they? What are they doing? What are
point of sale into the stores if you                                                  DON’T SUPPLY SOME STORES                    they holding? What’s the dream? Few
possibly can, use postcards in            GET WRITE-UPS                               Anybody in fashion knows that for           people will really crew on a 100-year-
coffee shops or post (or email)           A shot of a gorgeous thing draped in        certain labels, to be too available         old 80-foot schooner, but the dream
them to announce new releases to          an item in any paper or magazine            means death. You can’t buy a                works well for Timberland or
proven customers.                         turns that item into a best seller. If      Thomas Pink shirt at Myer. You can’t        Ralph Lauren.
                                          you’re a retailer, pick your media very     get Jimmy Choo shoes at Target. You
VARY THE SHOTS A BIT                      carefully. A write-up in the local paper    can get a fashion label (brand) ruined      TARGET THE BRAND LOYALISTS
The current trend of one image            may be good for a store selling bras        in a split second by association with       Some people can never have enough
across every medium, from the bill-       and knickers, but it could do damage        the wrong retail brand.                     of some brands. They might only
board posters outside the stores, the     to an exclusive boutique’s mystique.                                                    ever wear your stuff, even buy three
smaller ones inside, the postcards, on    It’s too mundane. Too try-hard.             RUN OUT EARLY                               or four of the same pair of pants.
the bag, on the bloody receipt, bore                                                  Retailers hate carrying stock at the        Your existing customer base is always
us and slice your market very thin.       CREATE YOUR OWN EVENTS                      end of a season and your brand looks        your best option. So build up the
Yes, it’s cheaper and it’s consistent     Myer does fashions on the field. You        like shit if someone is discounting it      database and direct mail, invite to
branding, but if you get that shot        can do clubbers outfits in clubs.           to get rid of it. Better to undersupply     exclusive showings, etc.
slightly wrong you have a couple of       Surfers gear at beach parties, etc.         by 20 percent than end up with egg
lousy months sales-wise. Some peo-                                                    on your face. Helps if you’re an
ple just won’t like that pattern, that                                                Australian manufacturer with short
girl. Better to use two or three shots,                                               lead times, because you can meet
spend a few more dollars on the pho-                                                  demand with supply. But try telling
tographer, shoot etc. and pick up a                                                   that to a retailer. I’ve seen their blank
wider range of customers.                                                             faces when it’s been offered.

4 4 M A R K E T I N G J A N U A RY 0 4
Many of the niches are very small in
real numbers. To be really successful,
                                         PEOPLE FEEL LESS OF THEMSELVES.
you must target large niches or com-
mon circumstances that your cus-
                                         FASHION MARKETERS MAKE PEOPLE WANT
tomers find themselves in. So you        WHAT THEY CAN’T HAVE AND HAVE WHAT
must understand how they live their
days/nights. What is the dream
                                         THEY CAN’T FIT INTO.
there? How can I show the beautiful
in circumstances only just beyond        GET STREET CRED                            GET LOCATION                             (university or big corporate, etc.)
reach? A gorgeous foot sticking out      All fashion tries to look like it’s a      No labels can sell unless people can     simply doesn’t apply here.
of sheets I’d like?                      groundswell movement. It’s come up         walk in and buy them. If you’re a        >>The fashion game is like the Wild
                                         from below. This is the key to credibil-   designer, get into the retailers.        West. If you ignore your professional
AS YOUR CUSTOMERS GET                    ity. (The other extreme is haute coutre,   Retailers must be in the prime high      disciplines in everyday practice, but
OLDER – YOU MUST GET                     but I don’t want to go there, it’s a       traffic sites to make money. Yes,        regularly tell anyone in the room that
YOUNGER                                  whole other article.) This means that if   you’re paying huge amounts to the        you’ve got a degree in marketing and
What’s killing brands like Nike or       you have to launch younger product,        mall owners, but it’s better than no     they’d better bloody listen to you –
Levi’s is the fact that your grandpa’s   do it with grungy media first, before      turnover, isn’t it? (The exception of    and you stay mates with the right
got a pair. Not much aspiration there.   you enter into mainstream. The rise of     course is great web-based retailers      photographers – you’ll do well. Just
There’s a constant struggle to rein-     bus stop signage, I believe, is closely    like Lands End – who do very nice        remember, it’s about sex and money.
vent. To make an established brand       aligned with the desire to look street-    suits at US$200.)                        So get both.
exciting for younger people. This in     wise while not breaking the law.           >>The growth of mass ‘factory outlets’
many ways is what also makes it                                                     in the outer suburbs is one to watch.    NEXT MONTH
enticing for older people – they may     GET AWARENESS                              It’s huge in the US and Europe.          Next month I’m talking food. Now I’ve
be associated with youth. It’s a real    In no other market is word-of-mouth                                                 got over the desire to be thin, by
problem for those brands.                so powerful. The slightest sign of         DON’T GET BITTER, GET THE                writing about it above, I may as well
                                         approval versus non-approval is so         MONEY                                    go out and get a decent lunch. I
                                         important. If you can get the celebs       Fashion is great fun, but it will wear   wonder which fashionable restaurant
                                         or the rich and beautiful to wear your     out a professional marketer faster       I’ll go to? M
                                         stuff, and get that image in the mag-      than any other industry. Because
                                         azine or on the box, your label is set.    they won’t understand your desire
                                                                                    for customer focus, consistent
                                                                                    brand values or market research
                                                                                    and, frankly, most of your training

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