The Fashion Market - Business of Fashion

Marlon Brando in iconic Bomber Jacket in The Wild One
Image Courtesy

Marketing, atleast hardcore marketing is a thing that eludes all of us. and many of us (especially us artsy designer types, who cant understand the E of economics) struggle to understand some very simple ways the Fashion market works. This article is also aimed at people who think that fashion is a long way away from reality and the fashion industry works on the whims and fancies of the designer.

Like every other business in the world today, The Fashion Market works on the simple theories of markets, the primary of them being Diffusion.

Diffusion by definition is the way an idea, a product or service is accepted by the market (or general public). The rate of diffusion is the pace at which the idea spreads to new consumers. It is more in terms of business point of view rather than just a psychological one of acceptance, but also using the product or propagating it.

Diffusion works on some basic principles: (we shall only be concentrating on fashion related marketing principles)

  1. The simple Cycle effect which has been explained in my previous post about the fashion Cycle. It consists of a bell structure that interweaves with other Fashion cycles and has a lot of things that affect it and can change it. Including economic recessions, Market growth, Free Thinking, War, Natural calamities, Ongoing societal stance, demographics, and much-much more. In marketing principals It is also known as The Theory of Diffusion of Innovations.
  2. Trickle Down Effect: The products are first accepted by the higher socio-economical class, being more expensive at first. As the product becomes popular the price decreases, and the quality also gets poorer, but has now started making money because of the bulk in which it is selling at the slightly lower socio economic class. As the time passes the Fashion or style has become more acceptable to the lower stratas and gets even less expensive than before hence diffusing to markets quickly.
    1. Ritu Kumar, Gypsy look, 2009
      Image Courtesy 
    Trickle Up:
    This is a particularly interesting theory and some of the most popular designs and innovations have been taken from here. The Design or style is originates in a lower strata of the society (for the want of a better word - a commoner) and gets popular in the higher strata (and fashion leaders) later. Some very popular examples include
      1. Jeans
      2. Leather Jackets
      3. Paisley Print
      4. Tie and Dye
      5. Indian Sarees
      6. Peasant look
      7. Gypsy Skirt
  3. Mass-market theoryAs opposed to Trickle Up or Trickle down this theory, this theory is also called Trickle across Theory Fashions and styles spread across different peer-reference groups, with its own fashion leaders being the people who would lead the change. Many times a innovation taken up by a Designer and popularised in one strata may or may not be accepted in another Group or strata. which is why we see a lot of subcultures and cross cycles that come up in different cultural groups
  4. Advertisement of Easy wash Crease Resistant Fabric 1953
    Image Courtesy
    Technology driven models
    - The rate of acceptance of technology is determined by factors such as ease of use and usefulness. For example, The rise in the 'Yuppy culture' (Young Urban Professional) also saw the rise of usable, non creasing, easy wash fabric. Hence, the market in a few years was developing new technology and artificial fabrics and chemical treatment that increasingly had these features to make clothes that were ready to wear, Wear and Tear resistant, dirt resistant, machine washable, quick dry, Non Creasing. These are a few features that we now take for granted which weren’t possible a few years ago.  

    It is very easy to misunderstand fashion as something that is completely not of this world. and often we think that fashion is a thing for the ramp. But, the concepts of fashion are similar (even at times the same) as the Marketing concepts and all you have to do is relate the two. Many fashion marketing models are the same as the economic models and in fact, world economy affects the industry pretty much the same as any other industry. 
    I shall also be putting up the economic affects on the fashion industry and how different economic and other situations affect fashion (hopefully soon) Till then please do comment and send feedback.
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    About Aparna Mudi

    Aparna is a fashion graduate from NIFT, New Delhi. She has a passion for writing about everything under the sun, especially about fashion and lifestyle.

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