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An interest in fashion begins at a young age where the teen generation show a high degree of fashion awareness. Those who convince themselves to have lack of interest in the fashion area eventually are compelled to tackle the notion. The market for youth fashion clothing targets includes consumers aged between 13 and 24. This fashion market has been quoted to be worth £9.93 billion at the close of 2008, witnessing a 14.9% general increase since 2004. "Clothes and accessories are expressions of how we feel, how we see ourselves and how we wish to be treated by others" (Lecture Notes, week 1). Every individual's style of dressing uniquely identifies them which implies - we don't just purchase clothes but an identity as a bonus.
The 'product' this assignment will be aimed at presenting the latest 'grunge look' which is currently popular among the teenagers and its current market position. The research will further establish the understanding of trend tracking and market research which comprises of tracking both the product and the consumers who are more likely to show response to the innovation of this 'type of appearance'.
This report will examine how the 'grunge look' appearance in clothing has been developed in the last three years. Discussions regarding the future development of this kind of look will be briefly analysed. An appropriate consumer group that would respond to the modifications in the respective product area will also be identified. Finally, suitable market research methods which will be utilised to notify predictions and opinions in this report.
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT - PAST 3 YEARS
The leading fashion industry is considered as one of the major competitive sectors of world trade. "The UK fashion industry is estimated to be worth approximately £22 billion in retail sales value in 2008" (Easey, M., 2008, pg.3). The fashion sector has been experiencing an epoch of continuous and immense growth and change. This development can be monitored and administered meticulously with the application of various marketing techniques.
By definition, fashion essentially involves 'change' that occurs constantly, also known as a series of short term trends or fads. Fashion can be looked as a form of free speech that can also refer to other areas besides apparel - like accessories, hairstyles, jewellery, beauty, body art, popular music etc. The youth market particularly have a positive outlook towards the diversity that this growing fashion can provide as a means to experience the new and appealing things in the market. People persistently explore new and innovative ways to express themselves and marketers work to sustain with this desire.
The past three years in the teenage fashion industry has experienced a diversity in clothing trends that have ranged from the smart wear, formal wear, casual wear, rich wear, party wear and the latest fashion popular among the teenage crowd is the 'grunge wear'. This is inspired from the 1980's retro fashion era which didn't remain a vogue as new and sophisticated fashion trends were developed over the years. Although, the youth, particularly the teenage crowd of the current era have brought back the retro fashion that died out many decades ago by sporting the look that has become the latest craze.
"Culture forms the prism through which people view products and try to make sense of their own and other people's behaviour." (Lecture Notes, Week 4)
Youth fashion is mostly influenced from the changing tastes and companionships of the generation where the spread of cultural ideas are usually conveyed through the supreme medium of advanced media and technology in this 21st century. In this way, teenagers all over the world connect through this channel of communication and are never left feeling isolated. Teenagers get their inspiration from fashion role models who are usually famous icons from the music and fashion worlds. These artists and bands usually are the popular trend setters making teenagers eventually follow the band-wagon. High-status consumers like celebrities, fashion houses and their related fashion designers seem to play some role in controlling directions of fashion. When high cultural status people being to sport a new/ different type of clothing, a fashion trend would start, urging teenagers who look up to these high class people with to imitate the similar style.
Reflecting on Figure 1, other factors responsible for the change can be a person's personality, culture or weather. Different countries and societies offer a variety of different fashions in clothes. There are some who tend to carry their cultural belief in clothing to different societies. People living within these societies can also find this difference in dressing appealing allowing them to eventually adopt it. A common example is that of the Indian women apparel that is usually in fashion among all age groups in different societies.
Figure 1: Factors affecting clothing (http://josephcoates.com/pdf_files/279_Future_of_Clothing.pdf)
"Socially-constructed aesthetic rules regarding dress influence the social power we feel and attribute to others. Lack of social power is associated with appearances, which do not conform to the rules, whether they are for main-stream ideas regarding co-ordinated clothing or youthful thin bodies. Some groups and individuals have assumed power by effectively resisting these imposed aesthetic rules, while others have yet to do so." (Kim K.P. Johnson and Sharron J.Lennon (1999) Appearance and power. Oxford. New York. P5)
The different styles of fashionable clothing have experienced transformations since the golden years while a few trends have been recycled. The fashion of today may seem really bizarre few years down the line when a new trend sets in. The 1980's was one such period that witnessed many unique and different clothing trends that could not be ignored. It was the era when the minds of the youth were influenced by pop stars through their music videos. Teenagers mostly enjoyed emulating these artists, especially Madonna and Michael Jackson who ruled in this area of setting trends. Madonna introduced the most sought-after fishnet stockings worn with micro minis that were a craze those days. Likewise, Michael Jackson set trends with leather jackets, black leather pants, fingerless gloves, aviator jackets and many other that became quite popular.
CURRENT MODE OF CLOTHING
"Dress is a form of communication, the meaning tied to dress are continually negotiated and renegotiated." (Kim K.P. Johnson and Sharron J.Lennon (1999) Appearance and power. Oxford. New York. P28)
The need for clothing has been instigated for useful or social reasons. Clothing guards our body and also delivers a social message to other people in the society. In fashion cycles, with change being an incessant factor, a variety of classic fashion continues for a long period whereas other fashion trends fade over time.
"Clothing has been a characteristic feature of civilizations. The Egyptians were famous for their cotton clothing, the Chinese for their silk and the tribal for wearing the nature. Changing times have adopted the aspect of clothing beyond basic means" (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/clothing/)
The grunge look is commonly adapted by teenagers all over but different groups have varied styles and designs that differ accordingly. Their price range would also differ from cities, for example, clothes sold in Derby, Sheffield, Nottingham or Leicester would be cheaper compared to the same clothes sold in London or Cambridge. This type of clothing is mostly seen sported by students in colleges, universities, malls (other recreational places as well), etc. It is widely available all over the country in many stores like HNM, Bench, New Look, River Island, Top Shop, etc. Popular websites like www.urbanvenom.com among the many others also trade in hip pop clothing.
3.1 RETURN OF THE GRUNGE LOOK
As noted earlier, music artists and bands play a major role in influencing the mindset of teenagers in fashion. As emphasized earlier, the grunge look is mostly popular among the younger crowd. Introduction of the baggy jeans style was a significant social fashion statement that has is being widely accepted among the teenagers currently. A factor that contributes to this current craze is comfort. Teenagers these days refuse to agree to the adult standards of neat and smart dressing sense. Loose fitting (baggy) urban wear are more comfortable than tight clothing. A few 'r n b' artists that teenagers these days idolize are Eminem, 50 Cent, Nelly, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, etc.
The grunge look from the hip-hop fashion brought together heavy bling jewellery in conjunction with scruffy dressing style. Teenagers with this style of dressing usually wear over-sized baggy jeans without a belt, also known as 'loose' and 'ghetto'. The hip-pop culture first seems to have emerged among the Black youth in New York City's Bronx during the mid 1970's. Initial expressions of hip-pop culture were spray-painted graffiti, break dancing, rap music and clothes with logos. The middle class emulated the fashion norms that were usually set by the high-class people but hip-pop has turned around that trend. The culture that was only followed by the Black community is now being adopted by the white teenagers who are widely influenced by the current music videos.
3.2 CORE BENEFIT OF PRODUCT
There are several benefits that come along with the grunge wear. Out of the many, four basic ones are reviewed below:
Personality - Interest in looking good and creating an impression among the others in the similar age group is a usual fact. Therefore, an individual's clothing sense is a major quality that other people never usually leave unnoticed as it defines that individual's personality on the whole.
Appearance - Clothes usually tell about an individual's likes and dislikes. Teenagers usually wear clothes that are 'in' and sported latest by their fashion idols. This allows them to connect on the same level as other teenagers in the society.
Style - The grunge look is a fashion statement involving tee -shirts with logos, hoods, ripped jeans or the baggy over sized jeans.
Self - recognition - "Clothing becomes an important domain of life in the process of redefinition of the self and in the attraction to a different group of significant others." (Burns, 1979). Extracted from the following website: (http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/modrr/rr556098.html)
3.3 AUGMENTED PRODUCT
The extended features of the grunge look in clothing are summarized below:
Price - The prices of clothes sold at various stores differ depending on its quality, brand name or location. Teenagers usually prefer to buy branded clothes which are usually expensive from retail stores like HNM, River Island, Bench, New Look, Top Shop, etc. These brands always offer the latest high standard trendy clothes that are usually slightly expensive than the alternatives available in the market.
Quality/ Retailer Reputation - Wise teenagers usually prefer to buy branded clothes for the main reason that it provides them better quality of clothing for its high price. This would reduce chances for complaints regarding damaged apparel. The quality factor is significant for a brand's reputation in the fashion market. This would help in increasing sales even for highly reputable stores creating a trend that would successfully haunt the markets for a while. The youth market usually doesn't mind paying a higher price for garments purchased from these respectable retail stores. Therefore, a 'retailer's reputation' is a crucial feature in the purchase of clothing.
Size/Colour - The availability of diverse sizes and colours in stores allow teenagers to purchase the ones that best suit their personality and are comfortable in. The grunge wear is targeted mainly between younger teenagers to young adults where these sizes are diversely available on different brands. The personal choice of colours depends mostly on their personality but to some extent, the weather plays an evident role in influencing their choice too. Stores usually sell bright clothing during spring/ summer and dull shady colours popularly during autumn/ winter.
(Grunge look: Urban Wear)
Self - recognition
The revival of the vintage look is proving to be successful to the fashion world. The latest trends in the market that are inspired from the past have unexpectedly been appeared modeled by celebrities, stacked up in stores and boutique shelves, catwalks, etc. "History has shown us that there will be even more diversification far into the next decades." (http://www.retroclothing.org/content/view/12/26/)
With the past era influencing the current fashion, the future of the grunge look would probably see a touch of the 50's or 60's. The 50's teenagers were highly influenced by the media, mostly the Rock and Roll idols and movie stars like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marlon Brando and James Dean. These people ignorantly set fashion to a different level in their era. The most common teenager styles were greasers, preppies, black leather and denim jeans. In my opinion, marketers in the future would begin to use this style in a modified and trendy technique to match the current generation.
FASHION: FAD, STAPLE & RETRO
Fad - A fad, by definition, is a "short-lived fashion, something that is embraced very enthusiastically for a short time, especially by many people."
Examples of fads in toys category are Cyber pets and yoyos. Another example would be the entry of the Playstation 1 game console which earned massive success initially but then died out with the introduction of other modified technologies.
STAPLE - Staple fashion is something versatile that can be worn for several occasions in different ways. It is a classic item that never goes out of style.
Most women consider the black dress as a fashion staple. Other examples can be a pair of jeans or hooded sweatshirts. Gangster style such as alligator-skin shoes and Fedora hats popularised by RnB artists like Jay- Z, 50 Cent and The Notorious B.I.G.
RETRO - "Retro is a contemporary term used to describe things from a bygone era. It is often used in a positive sense, referring to quirky or attractive products that are no longer available. For example, "Retro fashion" or "Retro Chic" may consist of outdated styles, such as tie-dyed shirts from the 1970s, or poodle skirts from the 1950s." (http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/Retro/)
Other well-known examples are the leather jackets, leg warmers, bell-bottom jeans, etc.
MARKET RESEARCH METHODS
A definition of Market Research taken from the Business Studies textbook whose author is Hall, Jones and Raffo states that Market research is the 'collection, collation and analysis of data relating to the marketing consumption of goods and services'.
Primary research involves the collection of the data particularly for learning purposes. Due to the lengthy duration of this kind of research it can often be expensive to conduct. The two basic types of primary research are qualitative research techniques such as focus group interviews and quantitative research techniques in the form of questionnaires, surveys or telephonic interviews. To carry out a successful market research, it is important to choose the correct research methods. The quantitative research technique adopted in this report includes questionnaires.
Questionnaire is a primary source of information. It can contain open questions, which allow the respondent to express their own views and detailed opinions, and also closed questions, which limit the type of answer, allowed i.e. 'yes' or 'no'. Filling a questionnaire can be less time consuming and simple compared to attending focus group or an interview. However, this method has its share of disadvantages too. Open - ended questions can create large amounts of data that can take long time to process and analyze. Respondents may answer superficially particularly if it is a lengthy questionnaire as they can lose interest. This can influence the end results and thus questionnaires should be cautiously written so that the accuracy of the information is maintained.
A sample size of 20 questionnaires were distributed to the youth crowd with a diverse taste in fashion and gathering the opinions of these respondents in the form of 4 closed question and 4 open questions. The result stated that the grunge look can be categorized under the retro fashion style that popularly existed decades ago but then faded out as the years passed with the invent of other latest styles and is now back into the fashion market. Therefore, the grunge look cannot be termed as a fad or a staple. The research further showed that with winter approaching respondents prefer to buy dull shades of clothing. Respondents suggested that the retro fashion can never die out of fashion and will always be the most sought after style of dressing since it was a huge success back in the days and teenagers would gladly embrace it even in this 21st century in order to obtain the sophisticated look.