Fashion lags

Tyler Brule – The Financial Times

Copyright The Financial Times
An excerpt.
Talk to retail planners and finance teams at the major brands and they’ll enthuse about the world as if it were an Emirates route map – units opening in Bahrain, 20 new stores in China, the possibility of shops in the “stans” and freestanding outlets in Mumbai.
To them, the years ahead will be won solely in emerging markets while the pace of European and US openings will slow. Sit front row at the shows of these same brands, however, and the world extends no further than 20 kilometres inland from the shores of the Baltic. The face of menswear is still, after far too many years, tall, slender-hipped, sharply-cropped, aged between 18 and 22 and has a name like Timo or Andreas. Men’s fashion is hoping to attract new buyers in markets like Pune, Almaty, S√£o Paulo, Johannesburg and Busan but the bodies they’re using to bait these new consumers hail from Lübeck, Tartu, Malmö and Tampere.
Which brings me back to my questions. Do you respond to fashion images that are vaguely convincing or pure fantasy? For the better part of a decade, I’ve found it difficult to connect with a £2,000 suit carried down a catwalk by an 18-year-old Finn who is narrow of frame but wide of the core target.
At assorted shows on Monday and Tuesday, I watched the faces of new buyers and press who are now taking up ever-larger blocks of seats and wondered what they made of this somewhat dated look. Where was the strapping lad from Seoul? The athletic young man from Goa? The high-cheekboned chap from Harbin? If I were a shareholder in a major luxury goods company, I’d be asking some sharp questions about the marketing plans of various brands in the seasons to come. The all-white, under-20 face of men’s fashion looked very old-world this week.
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