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

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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:

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.

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.

Nifty Shades of Gray

There is a graying of America going on and I’m not talking about an aging population or a bestselling novel. Gray is the trending neutral color that has taken the apparel and home markets by storm, fog, stone, graphite, and black pearl. Grays are a modern choice for clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, beauty, nail color, home decor, textiles, wallpaper and paint.

Shades of gray are the modern neutral for apparel, accessories, beauty and home decor.

Shades of gray are the modern neutral for apparel, accessories, beauty and home decor.

No other color is at once elegant, sporty, sexy and sophisticated for sportswear, dresses and lingerie. Gray is the perfect transitional color. In apparel, gray is the modern foil to pair with the omnipresent bright and neons shades instead of comic strip black. It transports pastels from saccharine to cosmopolitan. Head-to-toe tonal grays are the essence of impeccable taste and 50’s chic. Even the most dedicated black and white urbanites can update their uniform and soften their edge with nifty shades of gray.

Gray has become a basic in towels, sheets, rugs and pillows. In home decor, gray is the perfect backdrop for strong colors like chartreuse, red or inky blues. It creates a calming retreat when paired with ivory, pinky purples, creamy aqua or whipped butter. Gray is black’s kinder, gentler, cousin. For maximum impact, when combining grays, contrast textures like shiny and matte, fluffy and smooth, to up the style quotient.

Fashion is a reflection of the social mood. I guess we are in the mood for a calmer, gentler time.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix&Pond…creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale, analysts and investors.

Primary Reasons

Summer brings out the best in color palettes. This year beyond the neons and expected turquoises, I find myself drawn to the basic elements of all color,  the primaries. Fashion color runs in cycles and for me the most classic, Crayola basics are looking especially fresh for summer 2012. They are the big bang theory of the color family. There is nothing that steals a scene like a pop of tomato red, lily yellow or chipper skipper blue.  The primaries are color royalty, the mother of all colors. Even a black and white wearing urbanite can kick it up a notch with a bold primary accent.

A jolt of primary color looks especially fresh this summer.

A jolt of primary color looks especially fresh this summer.

Primaries have a certain sporty, joie-de vivre. They pair perfectly with nautical and military inspired looks. They work well for women’s apparel, dresses, shoes, handbags, luggage, tech cases and accessories as well as kids and modern home accents.  I especially love them in outdoor decor for towels, umbrellas, pillows and indoor-outdoor rugs. Red lips and red, yellow and blue nail colors are trending in beauty. These high-fired, salable classics will go forward in seasons to come!

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix&Pond consulting…strategic and creative product development and brand consulting.

She doesn’t have to have it….

For the past several years women’s apparel sales have been lackluster. Handbags and shoes have taken the spotlight and continued to outperform while apparel languishes. The excitement in shoe and bag design is palpable. Designers have continued to up-the-ante in footwear and bags, in bold colors, fresh materials and pushed the limits on new shapes. Confidence has spurred a creative explosion in these categories. This has added up to multiple seasons of big personality accessories winning hearts and wallets, in a down cycle of consumer sentiment.

Women’s apparel is another story. Here are several reasons for the depressed fashion phenomenon.

There is a lack of creative risk taking in apparel by wholesalers and retail merchants; call it retail sameness, fear of failure, wholesale and retail firms have a bad case of stage fright. They’re driving with eyes in the rear view mirror and trading down on quality. Many look to the past for the future and figure the safe road is the way to hunker down. Recessionary assortments of apparel are a counter intuitive bland diet for a customer with no appetite. Consumers have to be stopped in their tracks and wined and dined with fresh novelty and must-have styling.

There is a dearth of contemporary brands for the wealthiest segment of the market. Boomers+ have the money, but there is a lack of fashion forward casual brands suitable for the aging customer. This segment must choose between dowdy mature offerings or “do I look foolish” in this uber-short contemporary dress? Consequently, they turn to forward accessories to look current without looking like a sorry soul. This is an opportunity to reach a big underserved market.

Size matters. There is a lack of larger sizes for an “expanding” population of all ages. Women bigger than a size 12 or 14 can’t find much in most specialty or in mainstream areas of department stores. A huge part of the population is literally ignored. Larger women have to turn to the democratic accessory and beauty departments for a fashion update.

It is frustrating to shop for apparel in traditional store formats. Most women today are strapped for time, have short attention spans and an overwhelming sea of options. It is difficult to shop for an item, when most department and specialty stores are organized by collection.  If she needs a white top, she is forced to shop a whole store or department to find the item. A harried consumer will bypass department stores for the ease of shopping a simpler format with item depth, like J. Crew. Handbags, shoes, cosmetics, jeans and lingerie tend to outperform other areas. These departments are classifications, not collections and easier to shop. Part of the rapid growth of online shopping is that it simplifies the process. It quickly nets the offer to classifications.

The best accessories come from wholesale branded companies like Prada, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Longchamp, Coach, Michael Kors, to name a few. Bags and shoes are two areas where there is little private label. Consumers are validated by brand authenticity and the inherent status of branded accessories. For the most part, private label apparel is subject to large committees of leadership, who all put their stamp on the offer. Subsequently, they can water down the soup.

Accessories are the easiest way to update last year’s wardrobe. Apparel like accessories, is an emotional buy. It is unfortunate that most traffic doesn’t covert to a sale, only a disappointed customer. Compelling merchandise is the key way to improve conversions. If wholesaler and retailers continue to offer vanilla assortments, the consumer will continue to spend her disposable income on the latest accessories and technology.

 The following pictures are “best-foot-forward” displays from some major retailers. Their brand identities are indistinguishable. Do you think “she’s gotta have” this merchandise?

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix&Pond consulting…strategic and creative product development and brand consulting.

British Invader – Ted Baker

English fashion often has a quirky sensibility to it. It can range from dowdy, dipped-in-color royal style to avant-garde street wear. Proper classics touched with a whimsical twist are also a hallmark of British design. The fascinator hats, worn by UK women at festive, formal occasions are a perfect example.

A unique Ted Baker dress.

A unique Ted Baker dress.

There are many UK fashion and beauty brands invading American shores. Burberry is the international superstar, but gaining terra firma are Hunter (the famous Wellington boots, shoes and bags), All Saints Spitalfields (progressive street fashion), Thomas Pink (shirt maker for men and women), Barbour  (classic outerwear), Butter London  nail color (trend setting color), Illamasqua cosmetics (“makeup for your alter ego”), and many more. Some of these companies have decades of brand history and others are relative newbies.

One of my favorites is the irreverent, colorful, ladylike Ted Baker. The London-based Ted Baker , was started by the designer in 1987, as a men’s shirt company and now makes menswear, womenswear,  accessories, fragrance, skincare, footwear, eyewear and watches. They are especially known for their feminine colorful sportswear, accessories and whimsical handbags. The unique personality of the brand stands out in a vanilla retail landscape. I’m especially enamored with his patent leather bags, clutches and printed vinyl totes.

Ted Baker has their own international retail stores and is found at better retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. Preferring not to advertise, they have grown mostly by word of mouth. Now you are in on secret!

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond consulting. Follow me on Pinterest

Ted Baker colorful and retro accessories.

Ted Baker colorful and retro accessories.

Timelessly Chic – Newport News

2012 is undoubtedly one of the most colorful years in women’s fashion. Neon color and uber brights will stop you in your “espadrille trodden” tracks. These enchanting hues can transport a working girl from cubicle to samba, in a flash of Tangerine Tango!

Amongst the colorful chaos stands a timeless, American, nautical inspired trend. I call it Newport News, elegant, simple, a tad preppy and screaming good taste. It perennially rears its lovely head in transitional seasons, like early spring and summer. Think dry cottons…canvas and twill, breezy voiles, openwork sweaters, rope soles and handles and leather luggage details. Simple two-toned stripes and nautical motifs are the primary graphics.

Newport News - American Nautical Trend for 2012

This is more of an important accessory story, than full-blown “down-on-the-docks” dressing. It can just be one refined item like J Crew’s sequined anchor top or as simple as a striped boat neck from Rugby. Make it modern by pairing refined pieces with more casual ones. Like sequins with denim or a sateen striped clutch with a rustic knit sweater. Bottoms include denim shorts, slim and flared jeans, as well as pleated long or short skirts.

In shoes, think fabric…espadrilles, ropey wedges, ballet flats, as well as boat shoes. For bags there are roomy fabric totes, wicker clutches, back packs and sturdy leather bags. Longchamp’s white Le Pliage totes are also perfect “nautical chic”.

Officer’s navy and sail white are the primary tones, but can be accessorized with brazen accents of banana, poppy, emerald or orange.

The best “Newport News “accessories and clothing can be found from the beloved, usual prepster suspects…Rugby, J Crew, Madewell, Kate Spade, Milly, Tory Burch, Sperry, Coach, Longchamp, and Ralph Lauren.

Newport News is a natural trend for home decor. The contrast of polished with casual textures, is perfect for an urban loft or coastal cottage.

Dix&pond is the blog of Dix& Pond Consulting.

 

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