These fashion brands are in trouble and you should worry about them in 2020: Department stores, blogshops, Topshop...
As fashion enters a new decade, many paradigms have shifted and many conventions upended. Cultural faux pas are now landmines of public shame, and failing to keep up with evolving mores can leave businesses in the dust. Fashion businesses need to keep up, and here are five (types of) brands we're worried about.
Old timey department stores
If arbiters of cool like Barneys New York have gone bankrupt, it stands to reason that department stores in general have much to be worried about. Worse still are the old timey ones — we're referring to places such as Metro, BHG, and OG — that seem to be languishing in a time loop from 20 years ago. Granted, department stores in Singapore seem buoyed by long-standing customer loyalty towards their household and homeware departments. That, however, loses sight of the need to cultivate a new generation of loyalists and shoppers. More upscale names (think Robinsons, Tangs, and Takashimaya) have claimed the premium niche, but homegrown names along the veins of Metro and OG still have a real opportunity to dust themselves off to own their family-friendly spaces.
High street fast fashion of yore
Not so long ago, fashion was obsessed with the high-low mix. Wearing Chanel with Topshop jeans, pairing Dior with Forever 21. That's changing now that fast fashion is losing its shine. There's the harmful environmental impact of such rapid clothes churning, the ethics of sweatshop labour and exploitation needed to manufacture and distribute the clothes, and the general laziness of the designs (which are often ripped from the work of independent designers). Both Topshop and Forever 21 have announced bankruptcies and closed stores, and it seems that 2010s era, when these stores were in almost every mall, is at an end.
Blogshops turned brick and mortar
Consider this an addendum to fast fashion fatigue: blogshops which have gone into brick and mortar retail. The main draw of these brands is, of course, their affordability and low prices. The drawback, naturally, is the low quality of their clothing. There's an intense overuse of polyester and synthetics over natural materials, and the garment construction is at times shoddy. It's a real challenge because many of these brands have chosen to set up shop in prime retail spots on Orchard Road, where they're positioned next to international fast fashion behemoths as competition. Meanwhile, e-commerce has crowded the online marketplace so much the competition is just as tough. It's rough, but these brands are going to have to evolve and find particular gaps in the market now that they're straddling two very crowded modes of shopping.
Instagram brands that don't design anything
A new legion of brands exist thanks to social media, and although they too produce fast fashion at a breakneck pace, their creative sources and references are more likely to be Kim Kardashian and Cardi B than the fashion week runways. Fashion Nova and their peers have recently come under fire for their unethical manufacturing and employment of severely underpaid workers. Recently, the fast fashion brand PrettyLittleThing knocked off John Galliano's iconic newsprint design for Christian Dior. It's perfectly current as the '90s make their comeback, but the copy was so literal and lazy it didn't even bother to change the "Galliano" name on the print. This isn't new — last November, Versace sued Fashion Nova for replicating its designs. Which really begs the question: do these brands produce anything original? Is there any creative merit to these poor imitations?
Lingerie brands that haven't caught up
Rihanna's Fenty x Savage was widely considered to be the nail in Victoria's Secret's coffin in 2019. Where the latter is stuck in its troubled messaging of beauty standards, the former is seen as a champion of contemporary inclusivity and diversity. So much so that today, it's hard to name any other lingerie brand in the market that has as much cultural impact and sway, though Aerie comes close. There's a real opportunity here for brands to up their game and overhaul their image — especially lingerie brands that haven't yet been called out and gotten major flak for only casting skinny white models in their campaigns. Time to change it up.