Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Why you are not buying clothes (and should be)- Post COVID-19

(Author’s note: I first wrote this article in December of 2019- Pre-COVID-19. Now, 6  months later, is not only still valid but I believe it contains critical information and concepts for survival of the fashion industry, and direction for us as clothing consumers)


 AS of December, 2019, following were the top reasons you (and everyone else in US) are not buying clothes anymore:


1.     Clothes are boring- regardless of price, what can you buy that you don’t already have in your closet? How different is what you have and buy now than what your parents bought?

2.     “Low prices are not fun anymore”- As CNBC reported in October of this year, “Consumers have reached peak happiness with clothing purchases” “In other words, consumers already own so many clothes that each new item they purchase doesnt spark happiness.”

3.     Consumers have given up on department stores as a location for fashion inspiration- As you can see from the below chart, by age group, between 34% to 51% of Macy’s consumers have given up shopping there in favor of TJ Maxx, Target, Amazon, etc.

4.     There is too much to look at online; what should I buy?- The Paradox of Choice has befuddled us by giving us so many choices we don’t know what to believe anymore.

5.     Clothes are disposable- So I buy this heavily discounted clothing, and a few months later, I find that either I don’t like it anymore or it looks like crap.

6.     Myth: women should dress differently than men- This myth is probably perpetuated by the old boys club who fear (with good reason), that women will do a better job than them.


(Adding- Post COVID-19 comments)


7.     There is a stereotype attached to mens and women’s dressing which affects what is offered to and thus available to each. As with all stereotypes, it is inaccurate and leaves huge gaps between people’s real desires for clothing and what is available at any price. These stereotypes are perpetuated by cookie-cutter designs whose result is, ultimately, less purchasing because there are little differences between what is offered and what you own.

8.     Post-Pandemic, Apparel will be the least essential purchase, so there will be challenges to get you to buy something new.

9.     That said, you will want to look good because personal interaction will be the primary reward of the veil being lifted; and

10.   You will not have the imperative or opportunity to constantly shop for clothes as you did Pre-Pandemic; therefore, you will want what you buy to be classic, satisfying, and last a longer time.


Does this mean consumers are just not spending money? NO. In fact, for example, Millenials have increased their total annual expenditure by 233% since 2013. Yet, total apparel industry revenue has declined since then. So what are they spending their money on? NOT clothing.


CNBC again: “Put simply, consumers would rather spend their marginal dollar on, say, going out for a meal, than on buying a 60th item of clothing in a year,” 


But we all love clothes- IF they make us feel happy, appreciated, powerful, individual. Can anyone deny this? Social movements have all expressed themselves with clothing and style; in the 60’s and 70’s, the social revolution expressed itself dramatically in a change of style. Today, we have the LGBTQ and women/minority social revolution, (and our survival of the Pandemic) which will have much more of a lasting impact on society and the male/female persona than any other in the last 50 years at least.


SO, if we can feel that each purchase of clothes is an investment, not a fast-food purchase, we might actually buy more (in dollars).


Finally, at the same time, over the past few years, the sales and penetration of luxury brands has increased significantly. Why? Because the number 1 characteristic perceived by consumers is quality


So, what does this tell you about what you should do? Rid yourself of disposable clothing and begin to build a stable wardrobe of stuff that makes you happy when you wear it and will continue to support you as a wardrobe foundation?


But First- Wait, let’s be clear-tell me if you don’t agree- great clothing makes you happy every day. So if we get you excited, you may take some of that restaurant money and buy clothes, right?


Here’s an action plan:

    Throw out your disposables- First, throw out all those items in your wardrobe that you were seduced to buy because of 50% + another 20%, sale ends today, etc.

    Buy VALUE, not PRICE- Focus your expenditure on items that will satisfy your expectations, not just your wallet.

    Don’t buy anything that doesn’t make you happy every time you wear it- The self-esteem generated by a bargain will never match the self-esteem which you get from a really great garment.

    Understand that, in today’s global marketplace, luxury is AFFORDABLE for most of us- Don’t be afraid- you don’t need any tax returns or certification to buy excellent clothing.

    Think about clothing in terms of Lifetime Value: The ROI on clothing is much better if you buy something for $150 and keep it for 5 years than if you buy $29.99 and it falls apart in less than 1 year;

    Buy Brands that reflect your values (or even have some)- then what you are wearing will be a personal statement.

    IF you are not satisfied with the actions taken (not words spoken) re: Sustainability and Responsibility, don’t buy it.

    Interact with your chosen providers; they are anxious to hear from you (or should be)- Today, the customer is the CEO- make your wishes known.


There is no better way to express yourself than through the clothes you wear. Period.

So, until naked is legal in mixed company, let’s find a way to build our own custom presentation through clothing. You can!


Lotus & Michael- The Art of Shirts was started because we were not satisfied with what was out there- we tick all the above boxes. Post COVID-19, I believe you will see more and more brands like us out there-why? Because the customer is the CEO, and that is what they are guiding us to be.


Men and Women will always need clothes. And, if you are happy with your wardrobe, chances are good that others will be. Conversely, if you don’t care, neither will they.

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