Fashion brands employ many techniques to persuade us to part with our hard-earned cash in return for the transient thrill of wearing something new. In our hearts, we know it’s all smoke and mirrors – most of us have plenty to wear, and none of it is going to fall apart for a while yet. So why do we keep buying clothes? Can it really all be about marketing?
As fashion scholar Bruno Remaury points out, ‘Traditional marketing is based on need. You take a product that corresponds to an existing demand, and attempt to prove that your product is the best in its category. But fashion is based on creating a need where, in reality, there is none. Fashion is a factory that manufactures desire.’
Many of those who work in the fashion business seem surprised – or at least mildly amused – by consumers’ willingness to be seduced.
fashion consultant Jean-Jacquest Picart, who has worked with brands such as Christian Lacroix and Louis Vuitton, comments as follows: ‘For the people who are genuinely obsessed with fashion, it’s a sort of drug. This is a personal theory, but I believe it’s because they equate exterior change with interior change. They feel that, if they’ve changed their “look”, they’ve also evolved emotionally.’
He hints that a preoccupation with fashion reveals a level of insecurity. ‘The most extreme fashionistas have a vulnerable quality about them. It’s as if they are worried about being judged. They live in a state of perpetual anxiety about their appearance.’
With disarming frankness, Picart describes his job as ‘a little cynical, a little perverse’. ‘The metier of fashion has a sole objective: to create brand appeal, in the same way that one might try to create a sex appeal. Everything we do is designed to make people fall in love with our brand. All the trimmings of our industry – the shows, the advertising, the celebrities, the media coverage – all of these things work together so that, if we’ve done our job well, somebody will push open the door of a shop.’
It all sounds fiendishly modern. But of course, although the bait has grown in sophistication, fashion branding has been around almost as long as the Venus flytrap.
Keerti Singh is an education and teaches english and computer science to school students. She also helps students in taking up courses of their choice at various levels of their education. To know more about marketing fashion visit at http://www.utm.ac.in