The Gap reported recently that sales are up about 8%. The mild winter was responsible for early buying of spring apparel for many stores, and a big shift for Gap. Sales had been off 5% for the year, except outside North America, where sales were up 11%.
It seems everyone wants to look like Americans except Americans. Why is that? Why do we get tired of being ourselves?
It's interesting where we draw the line. Men will wear British suits but don't wear French berets very oftena. Bicyclists want to look like Italian racers. Women want to look like they're walking on the Champs Elysees, but wear Keds till they get to the office.
Add bifurcation to the mix and it really gets complicated. Middle-income people are buying some things at Walmart to save for the things they're really passionate about, for which the Keds come off and the Louboutins go on.
Maybe that's the information we should post on Match.com. "Dresses very conservatively until you get down to the red soles." It's important. What if a guy who's passionate about his Calvin Klein "Obsession" meets a woman who's strictly Noxema? Can this be a lasting relationship, olfactory-wise?
This kind of thing will have its effect on advertising, too. I can see the shoe ad now: "For the woman who's Kmart down to the ankles, and Neiman-Marcus the rest of the way."
Yesterday in an advertising class I showed the ad campaign that introduced Tommy Hilfiger to the world. Unlike many people's preconceived notions about fashion ads, there wasn't a photograph or artwork in it. Just copy. Words, written by art director George Lois. It created such a stir, it built Hilfiger into a major brand overnight.
I guess what I'm saying is that fashion can be complicated and unpredictable because we human beings are.