Susannah Frankel: Times have changed for shoppers, not just seasons

Related Topics

Moaning about the weather may be a typically British characteristic but Philip Green is perhaps clutching at straws blaming the so far unusually mild winter for flagging high-street sales. "It's been the hottest October and November in history. Nobody can deal with that," he told journalists this week. "Winter goods are tough."

While it is true that winter fashion is generally more expensive than its summer counterpart and may therefore be more difficult to shift, consumer reluctance to part with any hard-earned cash surely runs deeper than that.

In general, the fashion system – and the high-end fashion system in particular – has never been entirely co-operative where the elements are concerned. Anyone who prides themselves in up-to-the-minute fashion awareness understands that buying a coat in August and a bikini in January may seem perverse at the time, but it remains the most effective way to shop. By the time the elements are so good as to fall into line, the most wanted garments will have sold out.

More importantly, the concept of fast fashion – principally a high-street concern – and nipping into Topshop, say, to buy a winter coat in one's lunchbreak because the temperature has suddenly plummeted or a wear-once dress for a spontaneous Saturday night out, is by now redundant. The rise in price of both VAT and raw materials – and cotton most significantly – dictates that budget fashion is no longer anywhere near as reasonably priced as it used to be.

Increased ethical awareness, too, finally seems to have set in. The intelligent consumer – and make no mistake, consumers are more intelligent than they ever have been – today thinks twice about filling his or her wardrobe with piles of cheap clothing that they bought because it was a bargain but which they never actually needed or wore.

Now, the vast majority of shoppers in the Western world are buying less and more carefully, and that applies to everything from fashion to food. The economic climate – not the climate per se – decrees that conspicuous consumption is as outmoded as power shoulders and boot-cut jeans. And that may not be such a terrible thing. There is too much product in the world and it is ultimately only those who choose to buy it – or not – who have the power to change that.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments