As the economy heats up more people are returning to traditional work (as opposed to gigs) and will be seeking career advancements. There will be an increased need for standards in appropriate dress. While appearance standards in recent years have trended toward the casual, as more people started working from home, the overall fashion trend is toward a higher level of style. This was obvious on the recent Spring Summer 2015 fashion shows where a ladylike sensibility prevailed. Current fashion is also being influenced by eco movements as can be seen in the proliferation of organic and sustainable clothing coming on to the market. This look, while trending, is a casual look and suits the client who works in incubators, collectives, and casual environments but not in the corporate world.
Let’s take a look at the generational needs of our clients for insight into how we image consultants can be of service to both the casual dresser and the corporate one:
The BOOMER generation (age in 2014 = 50 to 68) is becoming focused on the slow fashion movement; the “maker movement” of handcrafted, handmade, one of a kind, custom and “reuse, recycle, reduce.” This generation of client is turning her wardrobe over to re-sale shops and investing in higher priced, higher quality clothing (some prefer luxury labels, others the upscale contemporary designers such as Donna Karan, Eileen Ford, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein etc.). She is a fan of the swap party – trading in unworn clothing for new looks others are also swapping out.
This generation's woman is also aging and her body most likely changing. She is looking for comfort in clothing, preferring a relaxed fit and style. For this age group the ath-leisure clothing style works well. “No matter how absurdly silly that sounds, there’s a huge audience right now for this “new” category. Apparently, roughly half the people buying “activewear” these days are buying it for “nonactive use, as casual and everyday-wear,” according to a recent study.” Kristin Tice Studeman, blog post, Style.com
- Potential services for this client could include closet auditing, swap party planning, transitioning into active wear for wardrobe needs and personal shopping to athletic stores (Athleta by Gap, Target, Top Shop, Ann Taylor) for starters. For the slow fashion fan an online shopping session for handmade, hand crafted clothing from Etsy.com would be fun.
For the GENERATION X demographic (age in 2014 = 38 to 48) there are micro-trends taking place. This demographic is experiencing second and third careers, venturing into a business of their own or entrenched in a long term career. Their fashion needs reflect their budget and clothing choices are less about what is trending than about what can become a classic item to add to her wardrobe. Gen X has matured out of the trendy fashion scene but still likes fashion, in particular fashion that creates a unique image since attraction is still relevant to this age group.
- Potential services for this client could include closet styling, wardrobe shopping, accessory coordinate’s sessions, suit tailoring and non-verbal communication sessions to help her improve her executive communication skills.
Bloggers are becoming more influential with their extreme focus of such things as OOTD (outfit of the day) and social causes. Their influence impacts the street style and what is worn by GENERATION Y (age in 2014 = 20 to 37 years old). This demographic group is now becoming the most powerful shopping group of any generational demographic and fashion trends reflect this pattern - styles are trending toward a 1970’s vibe (vintage to this age group, sexy, powerful and speaks to liberation and freedom). Gen Y also seeks unique, hard to find looks. Some in this age group love to mix up their looks with clothing and accessories from fast fashion stores (Gap, H&M, Zara, Cos etc.).
- Potential services for the Gen Y client could include vintage store shopping, Eco-fashion hunting (this age group favors sustainable clothing), fashion show escort to fundraising fashion shows, or fast fashion shopping to spice up a tired wardrobe.
All three of these generations can be found in the corporate work world. At the corporate level more and more women continue their upward striving toward the glass ceiling. Although the numbers are low (women currently hold 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions) these women influence others to excel. Their personal image sets the tone for other women working within the company. Yahoo employees saw an uptick in dress standards when Marissa Mayer took the helm (Wall Street Journal, May 2013) - “It’s exciting to have a female leader that you can all sort of look up to, and she is stylish,” said Jennifer Romolini, editor in chief of Yahoo Shine. “We’ve all upped our game.” Your clients will benefit from upping their image game with your help.
In 2015 consultants will have ample opportunity to tap into new markets. If you have been working with one generation it may be time to explore the needs of others. Your services are always needed and you can grow your business by focusing on these targets this year.
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