The fashion world has hit a critical point. The economies of scale of mass production overtaking demand are with us.
Supply of new fashion is being lessened by the demand of vintage cool. It’s a wonderful thing to see and it has come about because society is making positive changes for itself and for the planet it inhabits. More importantly the fashion industry is creating the perfect environment in creating its own problems (for reasons we will go into later) as the consumer is now mixing new with old-new to create unique looks by blending classic style with a modern edge. The evidence of this change in consumer behaviour and attitude are flying in.
From the BBC:
Asos are also getting involved:
And if you weren’t aware, there is the luxury pre-owned behemoth Vestiaire. That shows that it’s not just about price (including their really cool service where the seller sends Vestiaire the product to check for authenticity before they send it onto the consumer. A beautifully simple way to increase engagement and conversitions as it eliminates the trust issue that is rampant in places like eBay that aren't for a singular purpose and don't control the experience of fashion shopping).
On the streetwear side is Depop.
There are many others such as Letgo, Thredup, Poshmark, Plndr, Mercat and Tradesy but I feel Vestiare and Depop are the best examples of their respective ends of the market.
As a massive Sneakerhead (collector, like marbles but for grownup winners/geeks) there is the Unicorn valued bad boy StockX:
A business valued at a billion dollars for a second-hand sneaker world that is worth billions of dollars. How & WhyThere are three fundamental causes of this behaviour change and why it’s not reaching its tipping point and becoming the mass behaviour norm of consumption.
- Thin slicing
A Venture Capitalist firm buys a brand their model is to reduce staff, reduce models of products (such as styles of shoes) and increase the colour range of the models they maintain.
This results in a boost of profit on a pure economics basis as it’s easier to produce less models. However, the medium term effect is that step by step it slices away reward and relevance to the consumer. The meaning is reduced, there is not as much range and all are factors that slice away how we feel about a brand. Ultimately it changes our perception and we think - literally - less about the brand and disengage.
My favourite example of this is Jimmy Choo.
It’s just lost what it was and these days, feels like an expensive Clarks with a bit of python here and there.
We explored this psychological condition in depth in our paper: How brands operationalise their own self destruction. If you want to know about the self-created conditions that are killing brands and the reason why Jamie’s Restaurant went under then it’s an invaluable read.
2. Covid mindset
eCommerce was through the roof during Covid (Just look at all the companies reporting financials exceeding expectations in Q1 2021) . We played our part making this so for our clients. One of the upsides of being so entrenched in the consumer world and having The Matrix software is that we run millions of lines of code and billions of points of data through our algorithms to find the REAL truth and what trends are bubbling to the surface before the crowd catches up.
Coming out of Covid, freedom is going to be the catalyst for more and more demand for better service, more unique experiences and more individuality. That’s why vintage is growing as a demand. We all crave an identity and vintage allows us to have one. It’s also because fashion has run out of road to innovate.
There are only so many fusions of a 90’s style track top with an 80’s shoulder pad the consumer can take. If all you are doing is making versions of old and the real old stuff is cooler and more unique, who wins?
3. Sustainability (for self)
There was always going to be a tipping point apex of the consumer world.
There is only so much stuff we can all own before we’ve had enough and relevance fades.
Psychologically we naturally Spring clean and the same condition is present when we just have a little too much stuff, clutter, things that no longer hold reward oir meaning.. Combine that with the human love for what is in essence swapping stuff (you know like we used to do with Panini Stickers as a kid) and voila, tipping point arrives.
Sustainability matters, the planet matters but the first and foremost condition of a tipping point is the individual consumer. They do care about the environment but the self still comes first before anything else. In this case, the sustainability nudge is less about new stuff and more about unique stuff that holds relevance and tells the individuals own story.
As this change takes hold, the old perceived stigma of second-hand is being replaced with a new perception; Vintage is cool (& good for the sustainability soul).
New is also still cool but it has to matter and mixing and matching new with cool old is happening enmasse. Once the cool arrives, the behaviour changes, the perception changes and before you know it; a new marketplace arrives.
It’s a cool change for me, for you and for the planet we share.