“More Than 5,900 Daily Records Broken as Pre-Christmas Warm Wave Engulfs East, Midwest, South,” was one of the headlines on the weather.com site today. In fact it seems that the early winter weather has been rather warm the last several years. November was the planet’s warmest month on record, in addition to an unusually strong El Niño effect heating up the US and Europe. Neil Saunders, an analyst with the Association of Retail Environments, wrote that the total growth rate in retail across the board was an “anemic” 1.5% in November, calling apparel retail “a particular area of category weakness during the month” – specialist retailers dropped by 1.6% and department stores were down 2.8%, which Saunders attributed to warmer-than-average weather.
Now we industry people do not need to read a report by an analyst to know that warm weather impacts Fall sales. Boot sales are down as are sweaters and coats. Customers are not buying what they don’t need. To compound this problem it seems spring weather comes later than usual. So as fashion people you need to start weatherproofing your fashion business.
What does that mean? It means we need to design clothing that is season-less. Clothing that works for at least 3 seasons. Coats that you can wear when the weather is a moderate 50 degrees. Booties with open toes that you can wear stockingless in the spring or with a pair of tights in the fall. As a young adult I dressed with scarves, hats, heavy socks, boots, and a coat in the winter. Today I went out with Jeans, flats (no socks), and a light weight quilted jacket and a scarf that was purely for decoration and not warmth. The climate is changing and unless we want to continue selling our clothing on sale we have to design accordingly. It is time to start weatherproofing your fashion business.