Spring look

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These days I try to maintain a functional wardrobe, so I rarely buy new clothes. I do this, so that it’ll be easier for me to travel. Its also beneficial for the environment and my wallet. In order to maintain my wardrobe size, I’ve made a rule that every clothing item I buy needs to suit my needs perfectly. Because of this I’ve also stopped shopping online; I can’t know whether I’m completely satisfied with a product without trying it on. I also try to shop for specific needs instead of going shopping for fun. But that doesn’t mean that I’m only buying according to a specific list I’ve made. Discovering new designs and figuring out how to implement them in my looks is part of the fun of fashion.

But there still exists a list of clothing items I’ve been wanting for a longer time. I’ve been looking for a nice tulle skirt for about 2 years now and I’ve finally found one. I did give up at one point and bought a faulty design from a sales bin when I first started looking for a tulle skirt. Tulle skirts tend to have a bulky waist bands, which I find unappealing. This SS season Vila has included a tulle skirt in faded pink and champagne in their selection with the kind of waist band I was looking for. Anyone who knows me also know that most of my wardrobe consists of champagne, cream and faded pink colored designs. Besides all the black and grey. The material also feels appealing.

I’m also a fan of crop tops and lace. Instead of tucking a top under a skirt and worrying about it rolling up and showing from underneath, it’s much more comfortable to pair a waist high skirt with a crop top. Though my lace era has already mostly passed, as has the trend. But one lace crop top still remains in my wardrobe. I’m surprised that the material hasn’t gone bad by now, as it is from H&M.

When it comes to accessories, I rarely use any earrings or bracelets. I think I’m just bad at buying them. I’ve had my ears pierced since seventh grade, but I only use earrings for special occasions. I think I find earrings and bracelets a tad bit annoying. They’re too solid as an accessory. If I buy any, I usually buy very fancy ones which are easily tied to specific etiquette and are hard to combine to my everyday looks. Instead I usually go for necklaces. Lately I’ve also started to experiment with necklaces, using them as body chains and on my waist. That’s what I did for this look as well. I combined a hair pin and a pearl necklace to use on my waist. It gives more versatile uses for them and has opened doors for new kinds of looks for me.

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To me, it is important that I feel comfortable in my looks. Feeling good in the clothes you wear and being pleased with the over all look is an important part of my personal fashion. I’m not a model, who wears looks for others. I wear my looks for myself and that gives me the liberty to wear what I want. Though it’s a bit funny to make that statement with an innocent look like this.

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My ootd for my brother’s graduation Skirt: VILA, Crop top: H&M

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I figured I’d give it a try to talk more about my personal fashion here in the mids of all the serious fashion business talk. ‘Cos in the end fashion is a part of both my career and my personal life. Let me know what you think!

Fashion Piracy Paradox

Piracy and copying are something that have always been present in fashion. Piracy is the act of making or selling a look-alike product or service bearing a fake trademark. In copying however, other designers copy the original designer’s looks, modify them, and sell them under their own brand name. In order for a designer to copy another designer’s look and sell it under their own brand name, there needs to be enough differences between the designs as not to have any copyright issues. The digital age has made copying easier; due to high quality photos and the communication network provided by the internet, a design can be copied and released to the market within a day of it being revealed by its creator. This makes competition tougher for high quality fashion designers; as they reveal their selections before the selling season, fast fashion retailers can copy them and distribute them to the market long before the original design. This not only steals the clients of the original designer but also tarnishes the image of originality the design had.

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When it comes to piracy of luxury products you can often use the word brand piracy. The term brand piracy can be used when a product is made to copy another, well-known brand. The goal of brand piracy is to make the consumer mistake the pirated product for a brand product and so gain some of the brand product’s market share. Piracy is a diverse industry. It consists of full scale factories as well as backstreet sweatshops. In order to make their pirated products as authentic as possible, counterfeiters can even bribe employees of companies with valuable brands. That way they can get manufacturing molds or master discs of the originals.

Depending on the level of the pirated product it can either be sold at the same price as the original or it can make use of the original product’s marketing by looking like it. In the latter, when a consumer sees a cheap knock off of a brand product the images associated with the brand product can be associated with the knock off as well. Thus creating a positive image for the knock-off. Identifying between the original and pirated products can be hard. Consumers might be under the impression that the product they just bought for the price of a brand products is of high quality, when it is only a knock off. Because of this, the bad quality and experiences associated with the use of the knock-off will be associated with the original brand. Buying knock off products can also be harmful for the consumers. The chemicals used and the conditions the products were made in can make the products extremely harmful.

Piracy in fashion industry is often referred to as fashion’s piracy paradox. Piracy and copying can be harmful for the designers who spend tons of time to create something unique, just to have it sold as a cheaper knock off within the same day it’s revealed. However, without copying trends would never be set. Trends are a driving force in fashion industry creating revenue. For a trend to be born, the majority of consumers need to adopt it. The adaptation process begins with the innovators and early adapters. They are the daring people who seek to be unique and the observers of emerging trends. They form 15% of the population and are referred to as fashion leaders (read more here). When observing from the trickle-down theory’s point of view, they are the ones adopting new designs from high-end fashion designers and retailers. If the new look is found appealing, other retailers start to make their knock-offs of it. They are produced with cheaper materials, lower quality and lower cost. They are produced to fit the demands of fashion followers; the 85% of the population consisting of early majority, late majority and laggards.

The peak is the point when the largest amount of the population have adopted the design. After the peak, the fashion leaders start to move on to new looks as the design has lost it’s uniqueness. This is the start of the obsolescence of the design. It’s slowly becoming old news and the population is moving on to other designs. At this point the look is seen in the selections of cheap retail stores. While the fashion leaders are moving on to new designs, they are starting out new cycles in fashion continuing the essential move in fashion business.

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Diffusion of innovation curve – Rogers, E.

Through piracy and copying consumers get more accustomed to the design. The copied looks created for different market segments make it easier for the consumers as a whole to adopt a design. The adaptation of the copied looks drives more sales for the original looks as well; the design becoming a trend creates more demand for it in the original design’s consumer segment. Fashion leaders and followers aren’t divided by consumer segments. Meaning that more consumers in the original designers consumer segment are ready to adapt the design as it has more visibility and adopters. They’ll be looking for designs in the quality level of the original design.

More about trends: Trend forecasting SS17 Bomber jacket

Trend forecasting

Thought

Trend forecasting is an are of fashion business that in my opinion isn’t appreciate as much as it should be, in Finland. Through trend forecasting services, businesses can find the strategic window for their business endeavors. Fashion is a business driven by change and knowing where that change is headed is a key element of surviving in the business.

Trend forecasters don’t decide what will be the trends for a season. They analyze the current zeigeist, how it’s going to develop in the future and how it will be translated into trends. Consumers feel inclined to buy apparel that somehow connects with the zeitgeist (Blumer 1969). This is the basis of trend formation. Trend is determined by what the majority of population buys and wears.

In modern day, trends can be formed by three different theories: trickle-down, trickle-up and trickle-across. Trickle-up is the oldest one of the theories. In trickle-up, trends are first adopted by the high social classes and spread there through the different social classes, until it reaches the low social class. In trickle-up, the trends are first introduced by the low social classes and start to spread from there to other social classes. In trickle-across, the trend is simultaneously introduced to and adapted by all social classes. The affects of trickle-across can be seen in mass-marketing; products are manufactured and marketed for different social groups simultaneously.

Trends

Before the birth of ready-to-wear industry, trends spread by trickle-down theory. This was the time when fashion houses dictated the trends of the season. But the birth of ready-to-wear industry created more factors into fashion business. Up until the 70s, trends mainly spread by trickle-down, which made trend forecasting easier. Nowadays trends can arise from anywhere. This has created more challenges for trend forecasting.

As trends can arise from anywhere, observing the major fashion houses newest collections isn’t enough to determine the trends of the future seasons. Besides, whether a fashion house’s collection succeeds is determined by how well it fits the zeitgeist. This was why Dior’s New Look was so successful in the 50’s. Dior’s New Look fit the needs of women to feel feminine again; the fashion had been regulated due to shortage and the appropriateness of war time.

In order to make accurate trend forecasts, one needs to understand the zeitgeist. Which is difficult as the trend forecaster needs to objectively analyze the spirit of their own time. Understanding the dominating events, social groups, ideals, attitudes and technology help the forecasters understand the zeitgeist (Brannon 2012). Comparing these factors to past zetgeists can help understand how the fashion will develop in the future. Trend forecasts spend their time collecting information about the developments in politics, fashion industry, technology, economy and other fields, analyzing the deeper meanings behind those developments and translating them into forecasts about future trends.

The forecasts are divided into long term and short term forecasts. Long term forecasts are aimed at seasons over 2 years away. Businesses use these forecasts for decisions regarding re-positioning, re-branding, extending product lines and planning new stores. Short term forecasts are are aimed at seasons under 2 years away and are used for inventory management, marketing, product development and product positioning. As the seasons draw closer, the long term forecasts become more distinctive with the additional data and transform into short term forecasts.

Trends aren’t just limited to fashion business. The zeitgeist affects the buying behavior of consumers across all categories. Through the help of trend forecasters businesses can expect the changes in the market and react accordingly.

Sources:

Blumer, H. 1969. Fshion: from class differentiation to collective selection. International encycloperdia of the social sciences. 341-345. New York: Macmillian

Brannon, E. 2012. Fashion forecasting. 3rd edition. New York: Fairchild Books

Window display for Maru Second Hand & Outlet

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As a part of Visual Marketing course in JAMK, we had to design and create a window display for a store. It didn’t matter what kind of products the store sold, but as I am in the fashion class I wanted our store to be a fashion store. This week we created our window display. For the project, we decided to go with Maru Second Hand & Outlet.

Maru is run by three of my seniors in JAMK. Neea Takala, Iiris Nokka and Janita Mikkola study in JAMK’s Team Academy. They took over Maru as a project related to their studies. As the name suggests, Maru sells both second hand and outlet products. They give a second chance for clothes with a story. You can read more about Maru in their website (finnish).

A window display’s role is to give passing by consumers an idea of a store and lure them in for more. It’s a tool of visual marketing. There by, a window display needs to match the image of a store. A window display that gives a misleading image of a store may lure people in, but will also have them making a U-turn at the door.

In order to create a window display that embodied Maru as a store, we researched them online, visited the store and interviewed Neea Takala. Through the interview, we got a deeper understanding of what kind of an image Maru wants to convey of themselves and how they create their window displays. Through analyzing the information given to us, the trends of the season and Maru’s display of the time, we created our concept for our display. This weekend will be mother’s day in Finland, so we decided to have mother’s day as our theme.

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Trends behind the design – Pause (pictures from WGSN)
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Trends behind the design – Edgelands (pictures form WGSN)

Maru has used decorations made out of newspaper in their display. We wanted to continue on with that theme. As our theme was mother’s day, we decided to create roses out of newspaper and book pages. It embodies the image of Maru: we’re giving a second chance for newspapers and disregarded books, as decorations. They’ll be appreciated again in the hands of a new owner. This also fits the trend forecasts of WGSN for the current and up coming seasons.

We kept in mind the spirit of re-using and giving a new purpose in our decorations. We bought glass vases from a flea market, got shoe boxes and covered them in paper pages and dried some branches to create decorations.

We chose the products for the window display based on our theme, current trends and Maru as a store. In our interview, Miss Takala mentioned that they would like to emphasize that they have both outlet and second hand items. They want to give an image of a high class second hand store. They also wanted to advertise the fact that they have items for both women and men. As Maru’s products change constantly, we went to choose the products for the display the day before the installation.

Maru

Maru has different types of mannequins available. In order to create a visually dynamic display, we decided to go with mannequins of similar style. This limited the amount of mannequins in the display to 2 female ones. We also tried to add a male mannequin to the display as Maru had expressed the fact that they wanted to advertise their male selection. However, we couldn’t balance the said mannequin to the display. Instead we styled it according to our theme and placed it at the entrance.

As a detail in the display, we added a mother’s day card and gifts on a table. This also created a funcional display setting for the YO ZEN jewellery that Maru has in their selection. We also displayed some of YO ZEN earrings on a mannequin. These choices were based on Maru’s wishes to advertise the said brand.

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Maru’s display – Before
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Maru’s display – After
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Maru’s display – details
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Maru’s display – details

All in all, I enjoyed creating the display. If I had the chance, I would’ve improved the lighting to make it pop out more. I also would’ve loved to include the male mannequin to the display. The addition of the male mannequin would’ve created a whole different setting and answered to our clients wishes better.

SS17 Bomber jacket

One of the trend items for this season is the bomber jacket. Especially in the shade of dusty green, pink or peach. While shopping, I noticed that pretty much every retail store in Jyväskylä carries a version of the jacket in their selection. Customers can go through different stores looking for a jacket with the design, material and details that fit their needs – and price range.

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SS17 Bomber jacket – from left upper row to right bottom: H&M, VILA, Gina Tricot, BikBok & Cubus

Originally, the bomber jacket was designed as work wear for aviators. The jackets were designed as warm and functional outerwear the aviators could comfortably wear in the cockpit. The bomber jacket’s design evolved as new needs were discovered and new, man-made materials were developed. Consideration of water resistance, battle situations and functionality created new elements to be considered in the designs. The first bomber jackets used leather and wool as they were seen strong and warm materials, but through the years the designs became lighter.

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1920’s bomber jacket – photo from Gentleman’s Gazette

During the 50’s the designs especially started to change. Up until then the bomber jackets were strictly military wear, but during the 50’s consumers started to adapt them in their everyday life. Because of this, designs that suited consumer needs were developed. Since consumers weren’t engaging in air battles, the designs adapted for consumers didn’t have to be as functional as the designs meant for military use. This allowed for a wider selection of materials to be used.

From 60’s to 80’s the bomber jacket became a trend item for the first time. It was especially adapted by the punk movement an the skin heads. Ironically, they used it in their rebellious looks – a jacket that was originally designed for the military. The bomber jacket also became a symbol of rebellion in the Asian fashion scene. Because of this the symbol of rebellion is attached to the bomber jacket.

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Punk movement – photo from Flickr

The current trend designs are more feminine. For the last few seasons, trend forecasts have featured the elements of gender boundaries fading, appreciation of the past, recycling, and meaningful designs. In order for consumers to make a purchase decision the elements and meanings behind a product are emphasized. Products need to “do good”.

The use of faded colours in the current designs is a reference to the trend of recycling. The use of faded colours in designs can be seen widely in current retail selections. Especially faded green and pink. This can be referenced to Pantone’s Colour of the Year for last year and this year. Though, Pantone doesn’t dictate what colours are trendy for a season; they analyze and forecast what colours represent the zeitgeist. Same with trend forecasts. Last year, for the first time, Pantone’s Colour of the Year consisted of two colours – as a representation of the fading gender boundaries.

The mixture of the historically masculine bomber jacket and traditionally feminine colours gives a reference to the fading gender boundaries in today’s society. The resurface of a design that has a strong historical background also gives reference to the “meaningful designs” trend forecast. Consumers attach meanings and ideas to the design. Because of the bomber jackets history with the military and the punk movement, meanings of both rebellion and conformity can be attached to it.

Note: this is my analysis of the SS17 bomber jacket trend. I’m not a product developer nor a trend forecaster. So, see this as an outsider’s view. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Exchange period in Toronto

As a part of my studies I completed an exchange period in Humber College’s fashion institute in Toronto in the autumn of 2016. It was the first time I got a taste of living abroad and I loved every second of it. When it was time to leave, I tried to change my flight to prolong my stay. Unfortunately, that would’ve been too expensive for a student like me.

All the buildings, cars, landscape, culture and people were different from what I was used to. In 2015 Finland had the total population of 5,4 million people (Population). In the same year, Toronto alone had a population of 6,0 million people (Toronto population). It was the first time I had ever been to a city that big. I was going to live there for 4 months and I had so many things to learn and to do.

It took an hour for me to go from my school to the city centre by public transportation. It was insane to me how one city could have such a big radius. For the first time, I understood why in the movies the actors would refer to their location by: “at the corner of X and Y”; the streets were straight, at a 90-degree angle against each other and stretched out for multiple kilometers. Saying that you were on Queen street for example could refer to different locations on a 6-kilometre street.

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The subway

Socializing

One of the best decisions I made regards to my exchange period was contacting the list of people who had been on an exchange period in Finland, prior to my arrival. There was an event I wanted to attend on the second weekend of my stay, so I decided to look for someone to go there with. One of the students arranged for me to attend the event with her friends and I am ever grateful to her. I made a valuable group of friends whom I ended up hanging out with all the time during my stay.

My exchange period was filled with new experiences. I decided to go by the principle “if someone asks me out, I’ll go”. Because of this I was able to make the most out of my stay in Toronto. With the exchange students I’d go to parties and the trips arranged by the international centre. With my Canadian friends I would go to a lot of birthday parties, eat delicious food and get to know their favorite spots.

I also had the opportunity to go on dates. In my opinion it is one of the best ways to get to know a city. Everything is new to you, so coming up with date ideas isn’t hard. Your partner is more than happy to show you their world. Instead of going to the typical tourist locations you’ll get to know the spots the locals love.

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Photo by Valerie Remizova

Studies

One of the reasons I wanted to go abroad was the opportunity to learn more about my field. The courses my school offers about fashion business are limited. I wanted to make the most out of my studies and to me, going on an exchange period was crucial. Especially since I aim to work abroad.

My home school is focused on the business side of fashion, but I felt like at Humber I was able to touch more on the visual side of things.

Humber’s fashion institute has a display window at the front of the building that always has an eye catching display on it. The students design and create a visual concept for the display every 1-2 months. The creation of the displays gives the students an opportunity to learn more about project management, collaboration with local businesses and visual marketing. The outcomes were beautifully thought out displays that showed the passion of the students.

You can see the window displays here

In the fashion institute, students also get to create visual store designs. Students create miniature stores out of cardboard and figure our how to decorate the store, where the products are located, how the display is decorated and where the fitting rooms are. This gives the students an opportunity to see how the ideas they have, work in practice.Plus they make adorable doll houses for kids to play with. I did take some photos of these, but I can’t show them as they might be used in future store designs.

Another way Humber touches on the visual side of fashion business is by making students create mood boards as a visual support for their presentations. While designing a mood board, the student needs to take into consideration how the viewers eyes travel across the board. There needs to be a reason why the mood board is created in a certain way. I very much enjoyed creating the mood board. It was an opportunity for me to personally create something visual as a part of my studies. I was very pleased with the results, but it might be obvious to some of you that it was my first time doing something like this.

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Design Matters A/W 2017 moodboard

The fashion institute also gives the students an opportunity to accumulate experience through trade shows. One particular course required students to attend a trade show, pick 2 booths from there and assess their marketing strategies. The fashion institute regularly organizes their own trade shows, where the students have an opportunity to show case their own products and companies.

I was able to learn about subjects that are not taught at my school, such as fashion history and colour & trend forecasting. Because the subjects are linked to each other, it was interesting to learn about them. Learning about one of the subjects supported the learning of the other subject and increased the depth of my understanding. One can’t make colour & trend forecasts without understanding fashion history and comparing the present zeitgeist to past ones. These are some of my favorite courses I have taken throughout my studies and it amazes me that such an important topics are not a part of my schools curriculum.

Being in Toronto allowed me the opportunity to be surrounded by all the different sides of fashion business. The malls were filled with high and medium quality brands, the city had modeling agencies, advertising companies, trade shows and expos and I could see different kinds of advertising campaigns all around me. The streets were filled by guerrilla marketers at night, handing out free passes to their clubs. By being in Toronto I got a better understanding what fashion business is like there, the magnitude of it. But as a student, the parts i was able to see were limited.

I feel that the time I got to spend in Toronto was too short. I envy those friends of mine who are staying in the city under international study programs. I hope to return to the city  to live and to work.

Why Fashion Business?

I feel like in Finland, fashion business isn’t advertised as a career option as well as it should be. Fashion business is a huge driving factor in the world economy. Because of things like obsolescence factor and new trends, fashion keeps changing, creating new needs, new looks to buy. The global apparel market is valued at 3 trillion dollars, 3,000 billion, and accounts for 2 percent of the world’s GDP (Fashion United).

One of the major misunderstandings people have my studies, is what they actually entail. When I say that I study fashion business, the usual responses are: “you must hate me because of what I wear” or “oh, so you can give me styling tips then”. These are unfortunate misunderstandings. The focus of my studies is in the business side of fashion. I’m taking courses about marketing, advertising, wholesales sales management, fashion history, color and trend forecasting for instance. I do know about styling people, because it is useful knowledge in my field, but it is not the focus of my studies.

During my high school years, I wasn’t aware that you could study fashion business or what a career in fashion business entailed. After studying physics for two years while aiming for med school, I realized that I didn’t even want to be a doctor. Up until then I hadn’t understood that your values and goals in life may change. You shouldn’t let the rest of you life be determined by what you valued as a kid.

I started analyzing myself: what do I want to do, what are my values, what are the risks I’m willing to take etc. I found out a lot of things about myself during that time, but two of them are relevant at the moment: A. I didn’t want to limit my life by the boarders of Finland and B. fashion business was what I really wanted to study.

Finding a school that had a fashion business program wasn’t too easy. The options are limited in Finland. I ended up choosing between Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences and Aalto University. Other options I had, were international, but I felt like it was important for me to learn the basics in Finnish first. My knowledge in molecular structures and evolution ecology didn’t really offer me an advantage when it came to business studies.

Unlike with my physics studies, I had a clear understanding of what I wanted to achieve. Before my studies even started, I had made a plan for the structure of my studies. I had to graduate at a faster pace than normal, I wanted to include an exchange period to my studies and I wanted to do my internship abroad as the last stage of my studies. That way I could hopefully continue working abroad in the company I’d do my internship with.

I can see the difference in my motivation levels all the time when I compare my previous studies to my current situation. I love what I’m doing and I’m constantly looking for new opportunities to broaden my knowledge about fashion business.