Fashion always remains in motion. The movement of fashion is dependent on economic, social, and psychological factors. Every fashion has a life-span known as Fashion Cycle. A bell-shaped curve represents the fashion cycle.
The fashion cycle is an important guide for merchandizing of fashion, as this information is important to
study and understand the stages followed by each fashion introduced in the market. Now, let’s study all these stages in detail.
Stages of the Fashion Cycle
Each fashion cycle passes through the following five stages:
X Rise in popularity
x Culmination or peak in popularity
x Decline in popularity
A new fashion can be introduced in the market through fabric or garment producers. The new styles are always introduced in the high merchandise category and are made available in limited quantities to the consumers to test their reaction
The beginning of the testing period coincides with the introduction stage of the fashion cycle and do wha the new style either gains acceptance from the target customers and begins to rise to the next level of the fashion cycle or gets rejected by the target customers and moves out of the fashion cycle
The styles at the introduction phase are always priced high to cover the expenses incurred by the manufacturers in introducing a new style and cover the losses in case the style is rejected.
This introduction phase is full of promotional activities, such as fashion shows and adverting to attract the customer’s attention
Rise in Popularity
Once a style gains acceptance from us target audience, it moves on to the rise in popularity stage. At th stage, the marker gets flooded with merchandise of that style phas its coples, also known as knock offs. These knock-offs are similar in styling to the original designer creation but are mass produced with cheaper fabrics and are therefore available at lower prices.
The adaptations of the original style also appear at this stage. These design retain only the dominant features of the original
At this stage, the promotional efforts focus on maintaining full stocks of the merchandise at good prices with advertisement.
Culmination or Peak in Popularity
At this stage, a fashion reaches its height of popularity and use. Therefore, this stage is also known as the plateau of the fashion cycle. Fashion tends to become very slow in its movement at this stage
The style at this stage is widely available and accepted. It is therefore mass-produced and distributed. The prices are also lowered to keep them within the reach of the masses
The time phase of this stage can vary from very long to very short, depending on when people get tired of an old style and start looking for a change
This is the time when high-fashion retailers start looking for new styles as well as reducing the stock of the popular present style. This stage may last long if either the style is accepted as a classic or the manufacturers keep working on the details of the style and keep reintroducing it with changes. This is what happens in the case of jeans.
Decline in Popularity
This stage starts when boredom for a particular style sets in due to its widespread acceptance and curiosity for new style forces consumers to try out new styles. The principle of fashion that Fashion ends in excess holds true at this stage.
At this stage of decline, nobody wants to invest in this fashion, especially at the regular prices, although they are still wearing it. Therefore, the style is made available at reduced prices with advertisements focused on price reduction
The retailers want to focus their attention on new merchandise and therefore start the process of stock clearance through sales.
This stage marks the end of a style when no one wants to invest in this fashion or wear It
All fashions follow the fashion cycle but at different paces. The rise and fall can be gradual or sharp and the peak can be narrow or wide. The long run fashions take more time or seasons to complete their cycles, than the short-run fashions
Each fashion has a consumer buying cycle and a consumer use cycle, both of which are directly related to each other. At the plateau stage of fashion, the buying cycle tends to decline more quickly than the user cycle. This is because consumers start getting tired of seeing everybody wearing the same style. Therefore, they stop investing in the prevalent style and start looking for something new. As different people get tired of existing fashions at different times, they keep on wearing a particular style even when they are not purchasing it
The length of the fashion cycle shortens as new products push the existing ones out of circulation and become readily available. The factors discussed earlier influence the length of the cycle and bring about a change in the fashion scenario.
The economic factors, such as rise in consumer income and therefore in the purchasing power, along with technological advancement, make people aware of fashion.
The social factors, such as increased life expectancy, changing role of women, social and physical mobility, along with increased fashion awareness, bring forth a faster movement of fashion cydes
As fashion is the lifeline of youngsters, psychological factors, such as their boredom with existing fashions and curiosity new ones, force designers and manufacturers to keep introducing new fashions in the market.
The movement of a fashion cycle can also be broken or interrupted by certain factors, such as wars, natural calamities, which adversely affect the fashion cycle. These problems cause shortages in the supply of raw materials along with loss of consumer income and purchasing power, forcing designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to shift attention from fashion goods
Fashion Cycle for Classics
Fashion cycles of classics are the longest running cycles as classics are practical and universally appealing fashion with more people ready to adopt them. The styling of classics remains the same with minimal changes in the fabric, texture, details, and other things. A polo neck is a classic and is always in fashion whatever may be its color, length, or fabric Classics, such as polo neck, sweaters, blazers, collar down shirts are always worn though the number of people wearing them keeps going up and down.
Fashion Cycle for Fads
Fads follow a very short lived cycle. They usually rise in popularity very fast and decline just as rapidly. Examples of fads include baggy trousers, harem pants, and patiala salwar.
There are times when fads move on to become highly acceptable fashion, and therefore do not decline in popularity. A good example is jogging shoes that were introduced in the 1980s. These shoes gained acceptance quickly as a fad due to a greater degree of health awareness among its consumers and, instead of declining in popularity, moved on to become a highly accepted fashion.