I remember many years ago catching a bit of some show with designers discussing fashion trends for the next seasons. You know, the what would be the new black kind of thing.
And it hit me – these aren’t really trends. Because they are being dictated by the people selling the products. Designers basically tell people what the next new look is, put it everywhere, slap it on a celebrity and then, sure enough, it is the next new look.
What was also fascinating for a season that hadn’t happened yet was the amount of top designers selling the same new looks. I don’t know enough about the fashion industry to know how that works but, to the layman, it almost looks like they get together in a room, decide what they’re going to push and then they all go away and push those looks independently. Then it goes down the chain and the designers who weren’t invited to that meeting see which way the wind is blowing and push those same looks too.
And we have a new fashion next season.
Someone getting in on the action at that point would just say, well I’m giving the people what they want. In fact, ask the public and many will say that’s just what they want too, won’t they? It gets reinforced and reinforced between designers and the public. When the whole industry is pushing the same look, when that look is all over magazines, on every rack, it’s going to sell but is it what people really would have wanted? At that point, who knows. Who even cares? It’s very difficult to pull it apart.
Really though, it’s suppliers dictating demand. They’re designer trends, not people trends.
Great for the industry I’m sure but, when it comes to something like fashion, it struck me as somewhat ass-backwards.
And now we have Lego Friends. Lego for girls. A topic of much discussion.
I haven’t weighed in on this yet. Why not? Well, to be honest, I have been conflicted. I can see some merit. Lego is a great toy and having a more obvious open invite to girls is something I’d support. They’re good looking sets that go some way towards restoring the balance in a product line that has gone quite dark. And the characters aren’t all bad. One is an inventor. One has a catchphrase about getting to work. We’ve all seen a lot worse when it comes to role models for our girls.
But then… am I to take it now that the airport sets, the police sets, town sets, Harry Potter sets and everything else with blocks of all colours, action and play possibilities, they’re just for boys? It is the way Lego have been marketing them.
And I guess therein lies a problem.
Whatever about my feelings, Lego Friends have their critics. And, as a father of two young girls, I can’t help but agree with much of what I read here at Marketing Media Childhood‘s collection of articles on the subject. So I’m watching it with interest.
But what does this have to do with fashion?
Well, someone in Lego (and maybe even people reading) will have thought, but this pink girly stuff is what girls want, right?
But when almost the entire toy industry is selling the same limiting narrow view of what girls should be, it’s like the fashion industry – you can’t pull it apart. And yet, really, it’s suppliers dictating demand. How can anyone say it’s what girls want when they’re being sold little else? So Lego are just that last straggler playing ‘me too’ in the girl’s toy aisle. Is it hard to blame them? I guess the thing with Lego is that I’ve never seen them playing catch-up before.
Maybe people just expected better.