As brands like Gucci attempt to grow their businesses by leaps and bounds, there will be consequences to flooding the market. Ulla-Maaria Mutanen, who manages the Hobbyprincess blog, had a provocative discussion about the trend against mass brands in Europe and Japan.
An increasing number of people prefer to buy their apparel
from a designer someone has recommended, or one that they personally
know. Ulla describes her concept of craftblogging - producing hand-made
fashion items and publishing them on weblogs.
Ulla goes on to provide more concrete examples on her blog, showing how concepts like iLife could be modified to enable consumers to interact more frequently with their tailors; TypePad could be used to build a brand, self-promotion and begin selling items via PayPal and eBay; and last.fm coold be modified to provide a recommendation system for fashion.
The challenge is to capture real-time information about consumer desires, then act. I've written how this could work for newsrooms; the Economist has a great piece on how Zara is doing this for fashion in Europe. When Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano announced their engagement in 2003, the bride-to-be wore a stylish white trouser suit - which caused a stir among those concerned with royal protocol. Zara took that look and made it available in its stores almost instantly.
Instead of trying to create demand for new trends in the summer and winter seasons using the catwalks of fashion shows, Zara studies the demands of the customers in its stores and then tries to deliver an appropriate design at lightning speed.
A retail information network - a la StoreTrak - that could capture real time information on consumer desires, analyze it, and make that information available to a network of independent designers, who would then remix those designs, using their own sensibilities to do their own riffs, would be a very nice addition to couture.