Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Fashionista with a brain- Boutique vs Websites vs Fan Pages

So my dear glamazons and fashion thinkers, I wanted to address a topic that many shy away from; how technology has affected and revolutionized our shopping activities. Now people lets think here: To get our fashionable ensembles we must engage in the act of being a consumer (unless you’ve designed it yourself) and obviously we are purchasing them from somewhere, but where do we purchase and how do we purchase!  Let’s take a look at some of the different avenues in which we shop, why, the affect it has and go a dig a little deeper to discover if our needs are being met in the process.

Shopping in boutiques is always great and it gives this feeling of personalization, as we have the ability to view, touch and try items. We are able to have greater trust and satisfaction in our purchases as we ourselves have hand selected and scrutinized them from every angle.  I’m sure you all have your personal favorite boutique that you must visit and see what items are waiting to be part of your ever growing closet, that place where you find fashion solace.
Before all the developments in technology there was a general excitement to go out to engage in the act of shopping, peruse through racks, indulge in a little ‘dress up’ and find that special piece (or pieces) that we knew was meant just for us while stirring up ideas of events or outings in our minds that would be just perfect for that sexy dress or sparkly piece. Close your eyes and picture yourselves in your favorite boutique right now, surrounded by garments, accessories, mannequins dressed to persuade your thoughts. Tell me that’s not a happy place! Tell me that you’re not enticed! Now I’m sure these thoughts put a smile on your face, but then the thought of exiting our homes and facing the outside world turns that smile upside down!
For us super busy ladies, we would prefer not to leave the house much less our beds with our spare time, sometimes the weekends are too short and we just want to relax and would rather  not face the crowds in the malls or humid conditions or the staggering heat of the sun while going from store to store. Sifting through racks with other strangers eyeing pieces we may be considering, vying for that particular color or size and don’t we love the long wait and lines at the cashier!  We love shopping but could do without the added on hassle. Though we love that ‘do it ourselves’ feeling, this is where technology makes its way into our lives to rescue us from these circumstances and not only act as our personal style assistant but also make the shopping experience much more bearable.  

Web Sites/ Blogs
This is another avenue to aid in the satisfaction of our consumer craving. Created to add convenience to our lives, preventing us from actually venturing out of the comfort of our homes and yet still enjoy the thrill of shopping.  Again there are thousands of websites out there (probably millions) but I’m sure you can immediately name a few that come to mind.  You log on to your pc and you actually have the address saved in your favorites, they are your ‘go to spot’ to fill the closet gaps. You know the value of these websites; they are your favorite boutiques at your finger tips, you can expect the same service as you would entering the establishment.  We enjoy having the ability to look through the entire store with just the click of the mouse, all that power by literally lifting a finger!
In today’s world it really is the easiest and fastest way to shop and yet not take away from the retailer and consumer experience. The power of value and customer appreciation is not lost and they have found new ways to highlight and celebrate avid and loyal customers. There may be a few glitches with site technicalities and lets admit it, if we don’t get to that pc in time we risk not getting our preferred color or size. But the enjoyment of shopping in this way still has some thrill to it and major advantages. Some websites are cleverly built have made their site even more fun and interactive by implementing fashion tools, games, advice columns and lookbooks. We may not be able to try on physically our choices but there are so many other ways to get involved in the styling aspect, even some that educate us.  Websites now do their best to contain aspects of personalization and yet still remain creative; to ensure us fashion forward thinkers are always alert of trends being set. We must admit this invention of online boutiques has made keeping up with our image much more manageable.

Fan Pages
Fan pages in the beginning were invented to simply assist with promotion of our endeavors, to be in closer contact with the customer but nowadays everyone has a fan page. We are flooded with fashion updates and opinions. Facebook (the king of fan pages) has afforded many the opportunity to venture into careers within the fashion and retail field. Fan Pages have become the new online boutique, in a manner of speaking and in a lot of cases have overshadowed the thought to building websites or establishing actual boutiques.  Not much effort, skill and knowledge is required to build a  retail fan page, but the profits apparently are quite heavy.
While some companies use their pages as an extension of their brand, others solely operate from this option with no intent of expansion. There are many fashion and retail fan pages out there, but do we really consider how much thought is really invested into making us as customers feel satisfied….or is it all about the income aspect.  Well….lets see! While we enjoy the simple convenience of these retail pages, many are just, and I say this plainly “save as images” from actual established retail websites, copied over and sold at a higher cost.  Do the owners of these fan pages really possess any knowledge of fashion and the retail industry? Do they consider a fan base or target audience in their selections?  Do they really think about us?  What are the rules and regulations to fan pages and are we as consumers protected? In some cases, I have to ask, are they (the page owners) even in actual possession of the items they advertise for sales? Makes you think huh…
Well my dears I too love retail pages as do many of us, but lets admit the avenue is flooded and there aren’t much rules that govern or protect us as consumers and as much as we adore having many options, what about service! Are we only paying for product, or are we also paying for a service? Where is the creativity that comes along with being fashion forward, where is that unique stylistic signature? Let’s face it; in most of theses pages everyone has the same concept, no imagination and to be honest, there is really only so much one can do with a retail page. Though there are those that really do invest some effort and make valuable use of this aspect to social media, they use it to not only as a tool to promote and advertise but also to give back to consumers, while there are others that are too focused on gathering photos to their collection without any real knowledge, consideration or contribution to the fashion and style industry.
We definitely favor and appreciate those businesses that put some thought and imagination into the use of their company pages to accommodate our fashion curiosity, and we are thankful to have another resource that keeps us updated on all the happenings. Another upside to retail pages is it provides new entrepreneurs opportunity for a great start in the business, as maintenance cost is low (or free), and reaching your audience is quite easy. It would be advisable though, to not forget the value of the customer and personalization, after all, consumers are reasons businesses exist.

My fellow fashion colleagues given all the above, it’s clearly seen that the fashion and retail industry has definitely evolved and provides us all some kind of benefit with its evolution.  As someone in the industry myself, I must admit each avenue has it ups and downs but its all a matter of how we chose to use the tools we are provided.  We are not confined to one or the other but I must ask which do you prefer, convenience or value?  Should they be one in the same? Does this affect the way we shop? What is our style worth to us? We invest a lot of time, energy and our income to look as good as we do, so lets go beyond the surface when consuming.

We fashionistas don’t only look good but we consider all the factors that go into the finished product.

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