Fashion Retail Report

 

Who are these stores target market? Describe the customers you see at the outlets visited. Pay close attention to their age, gender, style of dress.

Dover Street Market: The customers of Dover Street Market know about the brands, you don’t need to acknowledge them a lot. The age group was 16-55; it’s a mix of high and street fashion, niche, trendy and knowledgeable in fashion and trendsetter.

Bond Street: People with money are their customers; they are trying to sell their dreams, their story, heritage, luxury quality and seamless service to their customers. It’s very difficult to mention the age group for certain types of stores, because with that traits of customers, it could go from baby luxury clothes, for instance, baby Dior in Christian Dior flagship store on Bond Street; to a show piece or statement piece for the age group of 20s+ who to be part of a lifestyle elites because luxury is also selling the concept of quality lifestyle.

 

How does your sensual experience of the store (sight, hearing, touch, smell and on occasion taste) relate to the experience you think this store wants their customers to have?

Dover Street Market: It was a mix of fashion and lifestyle; at the same time they promote new labels as well. The whole building was full with detailed story-telling decoration and the top floor has a café. It was very engaging for customer who wanted to spend some time in the store, relax for a cup of coffee and continue shopping. The store is owned by Comme des Garcon, Rei Kawakubo. Therefore, the store has contained some of the Japanese brands like Undercover and Head Porter, etc. As Dover Street Market has a few other branches in the other countries, they have a similar tone of voice. The decoration of the shop was a mix with contemporary and shaby-chic elements under French music and the same as in their Tokyo Ginza branch. In both London and Tokyo branches, they have recruited western or European staffs; the reason is they have a mixed race of customers. Other than clothing, accessories, bags and shoes, etc, they also sell eyewear, perfume, soaps and a home supplies in the basement section. As I know Dover Street Market is owned by Comme des Garcons, I have already imagined the store will have strong story telling atmosphere background because this is the strength of Japanese culture.

Bond Street: The stores on Bond Street were more personal and one to one relationship experience, it was more focus and individual for certain fashion style you are looking for. The whole store will include their own iconic elements; it is expected for great quality and services. For instance, you will expect the grey color in the shop and the designer’s philosophy in Dior; Louis Vuitton’s logo all around with the shop in order to construct the brand identity; and Coco Chanel’s big portraits with the interior design that have a sense of the designer.

How does the shopping environment communicate a sense of identity about the brand through its designed space (and architecture), through to how the clothing is displayed? How do customers navigate and interact with the space?

Dover Street Market: Once again, as this is owned by Comme des Garcons, the brand itself is included on each single floor. This has given me a feeling of brand familiarity, which surrounded by the brands that are chosen by Kawakubo. When I was in the store I felt her voice was speaking to me, in terms of what she sees and her values in other brands. Even the products the buyers have chosen were suited for their customers.

Regarding to spaces and interactions for customers, it was a very fun experience because they have set the story for each brands to speak in their own brand language but at the same time they merged into the whole shop.

Bond Street: When you walk into the luxury’s boutique, there will always be security and the attention from the staffs. This type of service makes the clients feel special and important. They are trained to offer you a drink and remember your name, and even giving you a bonded relationship with concerns of your life from small talks. You could see there are always luxury sofa, benches and chairs in these boutiques, in order to create a comfortable environment for their clients in the emotional shopping atmosphere.

How do customers ‘perform’ their shopping experience?’

Dover Street Market: It was relax and casual, they have made an atmosphere for customers to feel free to shop there without pressure. They have also recruited staffs with variety of styles in order to communicate with different clientele.

Bond Street: Mentioned in the above

How is the physical store connected to its online presence?

Dover Street Market: The website is very minimal, which could allow different brands to express their own language, it was easy to search items you look for, whereas the store was more engaging with different elements like fashion and lifestyle experiences.

Bond Street: As shops on Bond Street are individual brands, their websites contained a strong brand story and atmosphere, videos from their fashion shows, Hollywood stars spokesperson for the brand would appear on such websites.

 

Rationale:

The trend has been inspired by the street and lifestyle. Although there is a trend book in every season for forecasting trends, in these few years, designers have been mixing luxury with street fashion. For instance, one of the elements of the season is velvet, it is a very comfortable fabric with a matte-shine texture under different lightings; having said that, the direction of the trend is evolving a comfy and renaissance kind of concept.

Even high street stores like Topshop, Zara etc, they all look up to the outputs of high luxury store. For instance, Zara is owned by a Spanish owner namely Amancio Ortega (who has overtake Bill Gate with a 6-billion fortune). The reason for his success is that he had provided fashion and lifestyle for the people from lower to middle class and to a mass population. This phenomenon portrays the desire of fashion and lifestyle choices for certain groups of customers.

Going back to the trend, from the history until this 21st century, other than having garments as practical functions, trends have always been connected with regime of the society, traits of identities, values, taste and how you express in a certain way.

Although black is boring but it will always be a timeless color with a sense of calm and coolness; playing with different colors express different moods and seasons; textures, the way the fabric drapes, knitwear, etc., they all have different expressions for different purposes. Other than colors, minimalistic is one of the main themes for the trend within these years, it allows wearer to feel the freedom to express and emphasis their true character; whereas complex and sophisticated design provide a specific character for certain people.

As technology is growing fast within the years, resources are transparent. Other than solely mention about trends, designers are one of the key conversations in the fashion world, because “who” design has become more important and interesting than before. For instance, how did the designer begin, who he/she surrounded with, their morality, story, lifestyle, taste, where did they study, the craftsmanship, history and the philosophy, they have all came as a whole and became the trend.

Bibliography:

Lee, O. (2016). Fashion Retail Visit. [image].

The Sun, (2016). WORLD’S RICHEST MAN Spanish owner of high street store Zara overtakes Bill Gates with a £6 billion fortune. [online] Available at: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1758883/spanish-owner-of-high-street-store-zara-overtakes-bill-gates-with-a-6-billion-fortune/ [Accessed 7 Nov. 2016].

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Fashion Designer?

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In the past history until this twenty-first century, many people appreciate and admire the identity as being a designer, an artist or someone who could create. At least it could add a bit of sparkle on one’s Instagram, Linkedln, Facebook or any social media pages if you happened to have an identity as a “Designer” or “Artist”.

 

During the lesson of Fashion Culture CTS with Deen, he came up with the subject, “Fashion Designer”, he first threw us a question, “Is Kate Moss a fashion designer?” Many of us know Kate Moss has her collection with Top Shop in 2007 and she is a world famous model. I was thinking, commercially she is a fashion designer; her fans and some of the people in general would think Moss is a designer because she has her collection with Topshop. However, I wandered, is that it? Is it that simple carry this identity, merely by a collection, let me rephrase, a collaboration with a fashion chain?

 

All in a sudden, I started to have flashbacks in the documentaries that I’ve viewed, Valentino, Marc Jacobs in Louis Vuitton, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo in Anti-Fashion, Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang and the movie Dior and I, and so on and on… then some scenes flashed through my brain, Yohji Yamamoto was kneeled down, holding a pair of scissors altering the dress of a model, surrounded by his team; Raf Simon got inspired by few pieces of art and insisted to have them printed in fabrics for the Haute Couture collection of Christian Dior; Alexander McQueen’s visionary talent with his exquisite story-telling skills and his unforgettable show production; Valentino’s hysterical passion in fashion, “last night I was thinking about this white dress that a lady could wear in the day time”, then of course, he started to make this happen the next day he woke up….but how do we define who is the “fashion designer”? The world is changing so fast and customers always seek for higher standard, nowadays, merely creating clothes does not define oneself as a fashion designer, because the term “Fashion” has a meaning of “a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behavior; a manner of doing something; make into a particular form.”

 

To me “Fashion designers” are like the CPU of a computer and they are the dictator and the core of the house. In order to carry this identity, other than the requirements of design and production skills, they also need to be ahead of everyone, the trend setter, innovator, art director, story-teller and the philosopher; they have to deliver the brand’s essence and spirit.

 

Valerie Steele and Diana de Marly had a very different approach in the argument of Charles Frederick Worth’s contribution in fashion history (he is named as the first fashion designer and couturier). I was amazed by the accomplishments of Worth, but after Deen showed us a portrait of him wearing a very similar style of clothes as the artist Rembrandt, we all remained silence. Deen questioned us, “in what reason do you think Worth would wear similar style of clothes as Rembrandt?” It’s a social association, Worth might think wearing clothes like artist Rembrandt could elevate his creative image.

Bibliography:

October, D. (2016). Fashion Designer.

Pinterest, (2016). Yohji Yamamoto SS16. [image] Available at: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/310678074273611073/ [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Dress as Communication

 

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During the lecture, Deen (our lecturer) began with questioning the class, “what are clothes for?” “To protect, keeping you warm, modesty…so on and on…” Later on, Deen elaborated each answer followed by history debates, which allowed us to know there were (or are) exceptions in the world’s clothing context. For instance, Naturalist Charles Darwin’s investigation in Yahgan people for their specific cultural ways of keeping themselves warm other than put on layers of garments.

Other than the reasons of function and practicality of clothing, we started to discuss the perceptual meaning of clothing. Elements that evoked my ways of thinking about certain subject were corsets, I instantly feel its use for shaping your body in an aesthetic way, appeal sexuality; Chinese foot-binding shoes, which it reminds me of my grandma, she always yelled at me to wear slippers when I was little (which they believe this will help to control the shape of your feet), and explained to me that girls with big feet are less valuable; platform shoes from a Japanese sub-culture, I was thinking the word “desire”, as in general Asians have slimmer and shorter bodies compared to westerners, it’s a desire to become taller? I would name the above as the “feeling” of clothes, how you feel about yourself and how you feel others to feel about you.

In the context of modesty we have also contrasted with sexual availability, clothing for modesty (covering) in different occasions such as weddings, funerals, or religious meaning; whereas sexual availability (exposing) as in desire to show the body. I questioned myself innerly, why covering you with clothes means modesty, what does modesty truly mean? During the ancient period, humans merely cover themselves, does modesty relates to civilization? If there really are aliens in the universe, I wander if they would cover themselves with clothes and value modesty as much as we do. But of course, it is just my imagination out of the blue. Author of the book, The Psychology of Clothes, mentioned about three reasons to motivate dressing: to protect, in desire of showing the body and the desire of modesty. He also answered my question as saying; modesty is constructed by the social.

Going back to the early twentieth-century, to be able to dress shows one’s wealth and class, distinction and privilege. The social started to value massively about the term status and individuality; referring back to the present, there are certain concepts remained in the society, but as my experience in working in high jewellery industry, I have also seen wealthy individuals who preferred to dress casually. What I am trying to convey is, in this twenty-first century, people also started to value on the “inside”. In Deen’s lecture notes, I particularly agreed with the following, “The point isn’t that the adventure clothes are cheap, they aren’t, but they don’t shout money, they say I take risks and I have taste.”

Alison Lurie, in her book, The Language of Clothes, argues that we apply clothes to create statements; and Damhorst demonstrates a model to distinguish clothes’ materials and their condition. All of this reminds me of Yohji Yamamoto, wearing his clothes have a passive statement of not to conform, the dark tone of voice with textured and high quality fabrics allowed the wearer to feel a certain calmness and confident, the freedom of spirit, the enigma, modesty and equality. Clothes might not be enough to define who you really are, but I believe your taste does, it shows a lot of your values and beliefs.

In this discussion, I am aware the difference and relationship between clothing and fashion, clothing is a tool and fashion is like the magical powder, people who owns both elements have their own way to tell their story. Fashion has a meaning of trends, styles, trendy, the world of fashion, etc., whereas clothing is the object, garments, etc. They could link to show your taste, beliefs and values, and they could also have a function of constructing part of your identity.

Bibliography:

Cindy Crawford. (2016). [image] Available at: http://topfashionmodels.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/cindy-crawford.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

October, D. (2016). Dress as Communication.

 

Customising the Body

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By went through the lecture notes of “Customizing & the Social Body”, and video documentary, “Paris is Burning”, I have attached very deep emotions into the topic. When I was watching the documentary on YouTube, many memories from my past flashed through from scenes to scenes.

First of all, as I was born in Hong Kong, which it carried quite a traditional but yet a modern social background, I didn’t grow up having a profound knowledge of homosexuality and bisexuality when I was very young.

However, I have been growing my interest and sensitivity in identities from my career in modeling, acting and singing for over a decade until now. To capture the scenes that are related to the topic, it must be my 10-year dance experiences. There was one time when I was still in my beginning stage of my career; I needed to perform in a dance show for an internal Halloween event. During the time, a boy group (also singers from the same record label) was the choreographers for the performance, as they began their career as professional dancers, I was inspired and learned a lot from them. The scene was a burlesque dance performance of the night, and the routine was choreographed by two of the male members from the group. What have amazed me was not only they could create a very feminine and yet sexy routine for me, but they have also demonstrated every movements to show me how I should deliver my expression. I kept playing back the video I recorded during my rehearsals and realized their femininity was extremely genuine, natural and even more feminine than female. One thing I want to make it very clear is, they are both heterosexual and had given me an infinite imagination and courage as a female performer.

When I was having dance training in Los Angeles, I met a very passionate Hong Kong dancer Carmen Cheung. After Los Angeles, she went to New York and got inspired by the Voguing culture. After all she was the one who introduced Voguing to the Hong Kong dance scene. She invited me to be the styling judge of her Voguing event, catwalks, dance battles. During the show, customized costumes were being shown in the event. The winner of the contest was Milton Lopes, his status is homosexual; during the time he just moved to Hong Kong and he is also a heel dancer / choreographer. He came to the competition with a turquoise sequined mesh top and shorts with high heels, not only that, his performance was flawless. Other than Voguing was being introduced during the time, many gay dancers from the whole dance scene also inspired me. I have witnessed many of them who were more feminine, fierce, wild, sexy and fearless than any of the female dancers. Under the topic of “Paris is Burning”, I have interviewed Milton Lopes about how this had influenced or inspired him; he said, “Paris is burning is helping me to understand more about the history of Voguing and what people believe and struggles they had to go through in life to realize their dreams. Yes, it’s a true inspiration when comes to be a fighter and never give up…it helped me to understand more about the gay community in NYC and realize my generation and then coming one should have no fear to express themselves as a person and as a gay man.”

I took this opportunity to dig into the cause of homosexuality. Prior Harvard neuroscientist, Simon LeVay, in his research, “Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation”, mentioned a structure called INAH3, which controls sexual behavior in the hypothalamus of the brain; he had also discovered that this structure inclined to be smaller in homosexual men than heterosexual man. This finding proves the nature of human and being homosexual is not a choice.

While reading Judith Butler’s essay, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination”, the whole “no original gender expression” theory links to what I have experienced. I started to understand more of the concept of feminism. But however, what we cannot change at the moment is the notion of the social gender construction.

 

Bibliography:

Butler J 1990, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” in Seidman S & Alexander J 2001, The New Social Theory Reader: Contemporary Debates, Routledge NY

Francois, J. (2016). Customising & the Social Body.

I want to believe. (2016). [image] Available at: http://iamderreck.tumblr.com/post/113234907040/hit-me-with-your-best-shot-paris-is-burning [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

*PARIS IS BURNING. (2016). [image] Available at: https://www.tumblr.com/search/*paris%20is%20burning [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Drapery and the Social Body

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If Viktoria Modesta was not an amputee pop artist, Black Panthers aint black and Sapeurs (members of a social movement called La Sape) aren’t from Congo, would all of them still remain controversial? During the section, we discussed most of the above; Viktoria Modesta was among the most debatable identity in the discussion. In year 1 CTS, I have learned “reflection” in one of the lessons, when I am noticed of Viktoria Modesta in her music video Prototype, I instantly reflected myself towards her because I was once a performer.

 

Some of the people from class commented the art direction and styling of the music video weren’t appealing, for instance, a scene of her kissing a 50-year-old man, over-confidently showing her prosthetics as a gimmick, etc. I agreed perhaps if Modesta wasn’t trying too hard with her styling and story-telling, audiences would feel more comfortable to seek her beauty, but she had semi-succeeded because the art direction had caught your attention and made you remember her, that’s the whole idea of a debut album. To be honest, I would accept Viktoria’s glossy spike prosthetics over Lady Gaga’s Kobe beef dress on MTV award.

 

More importantly, it’s the story behind her that had strengthen her identity; she had gone through many surgery with her left leg since very young and assumingly despised by many other human being. As we Chinese said, “There are always chances behind crisis.” I believe Viktoria clearly understand this point by looking through her work.

 

As a student of Graphic Branding and Identity, other than taking graphic design as a language for designers to speak their own language, I value a lot on storytelling and unique identities. To see Viktoria Modesta’s work, I appreciate she has the courage to embrace herself who has a different body type than others, by using this as part of her performance; but I don’t agree with her refused to admit herself as representing disability. She said, “I represent the feeling that you have a choice to create your own identity.” (Saner, 2014), which I find the answer is wise, but I personally think you cannot create your own identity without embracing your true self.

 

Bibliography:

Francois, J. (2016). Drapery and the Social Body.

Saner, E. (2014). Viktoria Modesta, the world’s first amputee pop star: ‘If you don’t fit in, then don’t fit in’. Guardian.

Viktoria Modesta. (2016). [image] Available at: http://www.viktoriamodesta.com [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].