So, this week has seen us going through SS13 phase 3 (essentially our high summer) meetings in preparation for sign off, as well as reviewing our spring bookings to date to ensue that we have the right mix of product at the right prices, coming in at the right time. We have committed to buying ranges which fit the “buy now, wear now” strategy, but actually putting this into practice is not as easy as it should be!
The weather is playing a major part in this – it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that it will be warm when we expect it to be warm, and cold when we expect it to be cold! Add this to the fact that competition across the high street to launch new season products first has lead to product termed “spring” being launched in January, and “autumn” in June. In actual fact, retailers are finding themselves in an almost constant state of needing “transitional” ranges, which apply to neither season. It is only ever truly “winter” through December/Jan/Feb, and only ever has a real chance of being “summer” in July and August, although even then, warm weather is not guaranteed here in the UK! Conversely, we might have a very warm spell in september (when the stores are full of coats and knitwear), or a cold spell (snow has been known!) in April, when the high street is awash with shorts, t-shirts and sundresses!
All of this has been compounded by a stagnant economy, and led to the discount driven market we are currently experiencing. The only way out of this, it would seem, is to ensure that all but the extreme ends of each season, have a more trans-seasonal feel, with plenty of layering pieces, a variety of fabric weights and textures, grounded with a comprehensive range of core essential pieces, and of course a good selection of the “fashion must haves” of the moment. Getting these fashion pieces right, and buying them in enough volume to captalise on the potential of a trend before it dies, is a highly developed buying talent, and not to be under estimated – it can make or break a season for a fashion retailer.
My second dilemma is going to be equally as difficult to manage, and the outcome is not guaranteed to be successful whichever route I take – do I speak out and say what I really think, in order to try and help diffuse a difficult situation, even though it will definitely upset a few people along the way? Or do I stay out of it and let it run its’ course? Although it is not really my call, I do feel a sense of responsibility to do the right thing, but my tendency to open my “big mouth” has got me into trouble in the past – is it wise to take the risk? On the other hand, if I say nothing, and the situation deteriorates further, I will feel terrible. What to do? I know the answer to this, of course, but I am going to have to pick my moment very carefully!