Fall 2013 Casual Shoe Fashion Trends

French Dressing – Summer 2013

We live in a global market of micro fashion trends. Apparel brands create their own reality to serve their fans. There are few really big trends that are so salable, so wearable, that they bubble up all over the market simultaneously. A tad nautical, combined with a pinch of early sixties ingénue, French Dressing is summer 2013’s most enchanting big fashion trend.

French Dressing is reminiscent of the endlessly chic style of French women, who are masters of remixing classics in fresh combinations. The contrast of gender-neutral graphic stripes and dots with full-blown feminine styling, delivers an irresistible knock out punch. The combination of sport and sweet is modern and ageless.

French Dressing is summer 2013's most chic and wearable trend.

French Dressing is summer 2013’s most chic and wearable trend.

The colors are summer’s most versatile neutrals, deep navy and pure white, sprinkled with a touch of bloody Mary and periwinkle blue.

Dresses are especially important including fit and flares, halters and shifts. There are both 60’s structured woven dresses and simple knit sheaths. Bottoms include white denim, boyfriend jeans and shorts, printed and lace shorts, pencil, short-flared and 5-pocket skirts. Tops include boat, cowl and crew necklines. Retro looking swimwear includes flattering under-wire bikinis and 50’s style one-pieces. Fabrications are very casual, such as twill/spandex, seersucker, cotton and linen knits.

The footwear is casual, with platform, tie and flat espadrilles, smoking slippers, pointy-toe flats and vulcanized sneakers. Slouchy straw totes, retro and aviator sunglasses complete the look.

Parlez-vous Français?

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel,  footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Coral – Must-Have Color Summer 2013

Coral - Spring-Summer 2013's Must-Have Color

Coral – Spring-Summer 2013’s Must-Have Color

Spring/summer 2013’s must-have color is pink’s fraternal twin coral. Coral conjures thoughts of beaches, bikinis and chilled Bellini’s. Fashion is on a feminine trajectory and these pinky-orange hues are found in every level of the apparel (and home) markets for tops, jeans, active wear, swimwear, lingerie, dresses, handbags, footwear, jewelry, etc.

Pale lady slipper, peach, melon to rich begonia, this blushing beauty flatters all skin tones. It is precious and precocious, tender and tantalizing. Whatever the shade, it packs a lady-like punch and says girly girl from a thousand feet.

Pair coral tonally, with pure white or soft neutrals. Expect these trending hues to bloom bigger for spring/summer 2014.

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Coach – Stellar to Stumble

On the short-list of first-class American fashion brands, Coach certainly makes the top ten. The nature of market leaders is their willingness to take chances. No one becomes an Olympic skater holding the rail.

Coach fourth quarter 2012 North American sales were down 2% over last year, which sent the stock tumbling this week, in spite of increased international sales. North America accounts for two-thirds of the company’s business.

I have great respect for the aspirational luxury bag and accessory seller. They have turned a 72-year-old leathery dowager into a fashion powerhouse with their risk taking market leadership. There are far too many lackluster brands, that stand for nothing. I give them credit for ground breaking newness and willingness to take bold moves.

As an avid Coach watcher, the answer for the poor results is obvious. For many successful years, they addicted their logo-adoring masses to fresh shapes and colors of their iconic fabric “C” patterns. These signature looks fulfilled the fantasies of mainstream wanna-be social climbers. Unfortunately, the patterned bags have become, all too common on the arms of every stroller pusher and tweeny bopper in the mall.

Fall 2012 Coach Legacy bags

Fall 2012 Coach Legacy bags

They saw this coming. In second half of 2012, they took a radical step and introduced the Legacy collection. I never warmed up to this collection of vintage leather Coach styles in bold colors. They bet the ranch on Legacy and it dominated the second half assortment. I awaited its pending arrival and wanted to love it. Somehow, it didn’t feel modern, and the traditional leathers seemed a bit dowdy in a digital world. Perhaps it is the sea of wristlets and cross-body bags, aimed at an over-indulged teen? It doesn’t have the freshness of their more innovative styling. The only thing it had going for it was color. I give them an A+ for trying. This is the fashion business and leaders sometimes stumble.

CEO, Lew Frankfort is blaming the lack of demand on “competition.” Some say Michael Kors is taking a bigger share. I think the iconic Kors bags with the MK charm, are getting a tad stale, too. Kors does a larger shoe collection and dominates in uber-hot fashion watches. Kors stores have a consistent mix of accessories, apparel and shoes and isn’t reaching for an entry-level teen. I think Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, Tory Burch and others are sucking the aspirational luxury winds in bags.

Coach won’t stay on the rails for long. This champion will bounce back. In bags, I think they need to explore more luxe leathers, modern materials like colorful patent leather and even silicone, as well as bold new shapes. They are talking about relaunching their shoe collection. I think their shoes offer tremendous value in terms of fashion quality to price. Expanding fashion jewelry and watches is an opportunity as well. Stay tuned. See Coach.com

Fall 2012 Coach loafers - A modern twist on a classic

Fall 2012 Coach loafers – A modern twist on a classic

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies. Follow me to get the latest posts

6 Reasons Fashion Brands Fail to Thrive

Many apparel, shoe or accessory brands fail to grow, thrive or evolve over time. Fashion is discretionary. Clothing, footwear,  jewelry, handbags and accessories are emotionally driven purchases. Brands are much more than products, they are a total experience.

Consumers must identify with the implied promise of the brand to become loyal customers. Here is a slide show of the 6 main reasons that fashion brands fail to thrive and some of the stellar brands that are knocking it out of the park:

Neimans & Target Abomination

Neiman Marcus and Target released their much-talked-about holiday 2012 collaboration last week. I call it an abomination not a collaboration. This collection of random home and apparel items designed by well-known designers, like Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu, Rag and Bone, Tory Burch, Tracy Reese and Diane Von Furstenburg are poorly designed, low quality and strangely merchandised.  

The packaging is also big-box boring. They could have used high-end packaging to create a perceived value for the jewelry boxes, letter openers, lunch boxes, purses, glasses, dog accessories, etc. Instead they took the discount low-road and dished up the products to please the distribution center, not the customers.

This collection is just excess inventory and hype for Target stores and an embarrassment for the Texas-based bastion of luxury.  Shame on you Neiman Marcus, for putting your gold-plated name on some of the priciest drek I have ever seen. If you wanted to entice the aspirational luxury customer, you could have turned to your vendors to create some special value handbags, accessories, sweaters, tech cases and other compelling giftables. This Target collaboration can’t hold a soy candle to previous home runs like Liberty of London and Missoni. It will confuse and disappoint customers on both of the ends of the spectrum.

This public relations stunt has gone horribly wrong. These strange bedfellows have given birth to some very strange children. 

Products from the Neiman Marcus and Target holiday 2012 collaboration.

Products from the Neiman Marcus and Target holiday 2012 collaboration.

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies.

I started my career as a knitwear designer, so I will always have a passionate love affair with sweaters. The stores are filled with some of the most irresistibly cozy, sporty and whimsical knits seen in many seasons. Knits have their fashion ups and downs, but we are currently spinning in one of the biggest sweater cycles in years.

Sweaters are the dominant apparel category for holiday 2012. Fresh shapes, colorblocks, fairisles, metallics, embellished and quirky intarsias are everywhere. When intarsias come back in style, you know you are in full-blown knitwear revival.  I suspect sweaters will be standout sellers for 4th quarter 2012 and will be back with a vengeance for 2013.

Shape is the biggest story with a flair for the dramatic. These scene-stealers are easy and oversized.  There are voluminous cardigans, off-the shoulder scoop necks, batwings, kimonos, crops and capes. Details include uneven hems, ties, wraps, outside seaming, sporty details and back interest. The silhouettes are full- fashioned or sewn into radically new shapes. Outside seaming is used to tailor and create interest.  Oversized shapes tend to have some close to the body element, like tight sleeves on a boxy wide crop. Dramatic necklines include oversized cowls, deep v’s, shawls, wide scoops and mega ruffles.

Color is either wearable sumptuous neutrals, especially greys and navy or mouth-watering bright and bold.

Gauges are either very chunky or drapey, soft fine gauge.

Fibers are soft and inviting, not itchy or harsh. Cashmere and merino wool dominate in fine gauge. For chunky machine knits there are complex blends of soft, lightweight wools, acrylics and slub yarns.

Techniques include machine and hefty hand knit Jacquards, fine gauge intarsias, pieced and patched materials and stitches, color blocking, cables, sporty details, embellished  jeweled collars and  bibs and ribs of all weights.

Here is a roundup of the looks:

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies. Contact us for custom trend analysis, creative direction, strategic marketing, brand profiles, merchandising, etc.

Fall 2012 Jaded Outlook

To the casual observer color evolution is so slow, it is to be missed. Color trends advance steadily but significant palette changes don’t appear obvious until seen in retrospect. It is easy to identify in decades, like the good-time pastels of the 50’s and the anti-establishment avocados and golds of the 70’s. Colors in fashion, accessories, beauty and home sprout, grow, peak and die. Palettes and ranges crossover during this process. It is always a reflection of the social mood.

We are in an explosive color phase now. Spring/Summer 2012 showcased some of the brightest colors we have seen in decades. Neons, Tangerine Tango (the Pantone color of the year) and uber brights. Color-blocking, colored accessories and colorful nail colors competed for our attention and dollars in a less than stellar economic environment, (i.e. Coach’s new Legacy collection for fall). When times are tough, color takes us out of our collective funk.

Green-tinged blues are emerging, as the must-have color for fall 2012!

Green-tinged blues are emerging, as the must-have color for fall 2012!

Color watchers look for emerging shades that haven’t made the scene in a while. Their dormancy gives them freshness, like the new kid on the block. For fall 2012 we have a jaded outlook, and teal is the current must-have. Green-tinged blues are the new-found friend. These deep-water shades are calming, rich and pair well with blues and pops of gold. A jaded outlook is sprouting in apparel, accessories, beauty and home decor and  expect it will continue into next year.

My personal obsession this fall is with Furla’s rubber “Candy Satchel”  in Pavone!

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com                                                                                                                                                                    Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies.

5 Reasons Why Fashion Brands Fail to Thrive

Creating a successful new apparel, shoe or accessory brand is difficult. Keeping it consistent and evolving with the audience over the long haul is challenging. Repairing a flagging brand is nearly impossible.

Fashion brands are not just individual products. The products, marketing, multi-channel experience, customer service and corporate identity are all an expression of a greater deliverable to the consumer. A successful brand is a total experience that the consumer can identify with. Consumers express who they are or want to be, by the brands they choose.

Too Narrow a Niche – Every brand concept has an audience of a least one. The success of a brand will depend on the size of the audience for whom it resonates and can’t grow beyond owning 100% of it. Understanding the size of the niche is critical to setting growth expectations. The most successful fashion brands are a lifestyle and tend to reach a wide spectrum of ages. Classic American brands like Ralph Lauren, Coach or J. Crew have the potential to reach a wider audience, than smaller niche brands like Betsy Johnson, BCBG or Coldwater Creek.

Lack of Identity – All great brands need to have a distinct personality. What they are and what they imply is essential to defining the brand identity. Half- baked concepts and inconsistent messages are dead on arrival. Brands have to have a soul and authenticity.

Too Many Cooks in the Soup – Great brands are focused and have consistent storytelling. Compelling stories are not crafted by committees, but generally woven by creative and opinionated visionaries. Mickey Drexler at J. Crew and Mike Jefferies at Abercrombie are perfect examples of this. They both have a reputation for razor-sharp clarity of vision and have their heads in the details for their entire brand experience. They offer consistent products and take fashion risks within the context of their brand story.  Behind every great brand you will find a strong brand champion.

On the other hand, many wholesale or retail private brands are lackluster, because silos of management are allowed to tinker with the offer, and the brand becomes a spiceless soup.

Clinging to History – Fashion brands with the longest history often find it difficult to find a current relevance. Customers evolve. Staff can get hamstrung by the past and they rest their laurels on old successes. They keep regurgitating them. They often don’t understand what the brand promised to the consumer. They only see the brand in terms of the individual products that were successful in their best times. They don’t have the vision to tell the brand story through relevant products in a current context.

Talbots is perfect example of this. In their heyday, Talbots was synonymous with a monied, New England coastal, lifestyle. Their customers played exclusive sports and volunteered at non-profits. They had the luxury of choosing not to work. If they worked, they were professionals or women rapidly climbing the corporate ladder. If it wasn’t your lifestyle, shopping at Talbot’s was entre to the exclusive club. There was a definitive social status for shopping at the red-doored, suburban stores. They sold a lifestyle, embodied in their total experience.

Talbot’s today is sailing in a dead calm. It lost its personality and cache of the New England good life a long time ago. The series of CEOs since Mrs. Talbot, didn’t understand what they were trading away. They didn’t understand how the customer evolved and weren’t protective of the exclusivity, the implied status of the brand. They opened cookie cutter stores in bland locations with a gyrating assortment. The theater grew bigger than the audience for the brand. It wasn’t special to shop at Talbot’s anymore. It became synonymous with an aging customer and their boomer customers don’t want to identify themselves as old.

Coach and Burberry are great examples of classic brands that have evolved a long history, into even bigger success.

Traditional Marketing vs. Engagement – We live in a diverse, fast-paced culture with the added complexity of a splintered media. Traditional marketing on TV or print media don’t have the reach they once did. Creating brand awareness has become increasingly complex because consumers have so many shopping and entertainment options. Marketing has become interactive, no longer a one way street. They are bombarded with messaging and will filter to the most interesting and engaging experiences with limited personal time.

Brands have to be keenly aware as to who the audience is and engage customers on their terms. Social media gives the customer a big platform to create or destroy brands.

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com                                                                                                                                                                    Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies.

Take the brand quiz… Can you identify these successful brands?

Can you identify all of these distinct brands? See answers below.

Answers: A= Coach, B=Tom’s, C=Lululemon, D=Michael Kors, E=J. Crew, F=Vera Bradley

Well Shod- Fall 2012 Shoe Trends

Shoes and bags have been on a retail tear lately. The excitement in footwear and handbag design is palpable. As designers have taken style risks in colors, shapes and materials, consumers have rewarded them with ever-increasing sales. The Saks 5th Avenue flagship which has one of the most extensive and exciting designer shoe floors on the planet is expanding once again. Macy’s Herald Square is creating the largest shoe floor in the world at 39,000 square feet. There is a highly innovative period happening in athletic, casual, dress shoes and boots. In the shoe biz, the ante is up and it’s no time to bluff.

Fall 2012 Shoe Trends

Fall 2012 Shoe Trends

Shoes and handbags like the beauty area, are inclusionary of all sizes and ages, so all customers can play in the game. Plus-sized customers have under-sized apparel options so they turn to the democratic shoe floor for a fashion update. With shoes (with a few extreme exceptions), the forgotten male or female boomer can send a major fashion smoke signal, without looking like a desperate fool.

Women covet shoes and will reach beyond their means for status brands like Prada, Miu Miu, Valentino, Tory Burch, Brian Atwood and Christian Louboutin. They are also stuffing their closets with Uggs, Sperry, Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors, Nike, Converse, Hunter, BCBG, Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan, Ivanka Trump, Tom’s and Isaac Mizrahi to name a few.

Here’s a run down on the best Fall 2012 trends:

Color and Patterns – Colors and patterns such as animal prints, are major drivers of newness in all categories of shoes

Lighter Than Air – Ultralight and colorful running and athletic shoes from Nike, Asics, New Balance Minimus, etc.

Retro Vulcanized – Retro sneakers are hot in new materials and colors from Superga, Uggs, Converse and other designers.

Glam Casuals – Casual has gone glamorous in boat shoes, slippers, boots, loafers and sneakers with glam styling such as metallic, sequins and glitter

Tough Love – Biker details such as buckles, straps and multi-studs on boots, sandals and smoking slippers

Oxford Grad – Classic and inventive oxfords continue in contrast colors and materials (Valentino even has lace tipped patent leather oxfords!)

Tipping Point – Ultra high ice pick heels and pointy toed pumps

Feminine Flats – The world is flat.. especially hot are smoking slippers in a wide variety of materials

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix&Pond…creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer products.

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