Old is New Again at Clothing Retailers
By George Anderson
Retailers such as the Gap have not had much success in recent years getting consumers to buy the latest fashions on display in stores, so now they are launching not so new lines, harkening back to style statements made as long ago as the 1940s.
The Gap has launched a marketing campaign that will include in-store promotions using retro graphics and the bright colors popular back in the 1960s.
Erika Archambault, a spokesperson for the retailer, told Reuters, “What Gap is trying to do is go back to what we’ve been known and loved for. It’s a nod back to our heritage.”
Others going back to what worked before include Dockers and Adidas AG.
The Dockers brand has recreated its K-1 khaki military pants first sold in the 1940s. Adidas AG has reintroduced a white shoe first rolled out in 1983. Consumers can customize the new, old shoe by using colored markers or paint.
While apparel retailers and manufacturers are looking to strike gold with updated versions of yesterday’s fashions, many believe the strategy will not work.
“Customers want something new, something different and the trend to return to the years back is no longer as saleable as it once was,” said Kurt Barnard, president of Retail Forecasting Group.
“The Gap 30 years ago had no competitors and people broke down the door to get into the store,” he said. “But that isn’t the situation today. Every store next to the Gap is an apparel store that carries jeans. The odds are against success.”
Eric Gordon, a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins University, said, “The apparel industry has for years failed in its old role as a fashion leader, so they’ve run up the white flag. They’re saying, ‘Well, at least we’re the leader of the old stuff. Won’t you come back and see us again?”‘
Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree with Kurt Barnard’s statement? “Customers want something new, something different and the trend to return to the years
back is no longer as saleable as it once was.” – George Anderson