Every year newspapers, magazines and online resources post what's going to be "in" and "out" for the coming year. This year is no different but I found a few items in the Los Angeles Time's 2008 Image Index of "outs" that deserved mention here in this blog.
First and foremost (and an "out" trend The Brand Man Speaks spoke of several times) celebrity branded clothing lines are "out". The celebrity branded perfume business will continue to work (there's a fantasy element here for consumers that keeps this segment alive) but apparel brands where the only raison d'etre is the celebrity name behind them will begin to fade. No loss in my opinion.
Just look at Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten line which was a conceptual failure from the outset. The luxury fashion persona of character Carrie Fisher was so overwhelming, Ms. Parker's own style of lower end chic never caught on because the brand was meaningless. Bitten was supposed to put now defunct retailer Steve and Barry on the map but they needed more than one lifeboat....they needed a huge Navy.
Rod Stewart and Charlie Sheen put their names on apparel lines as well unsuccessfully and as the LA Times noted with so many celebrities putting their names on fashion (with such poor products and results) it is an insult to talented fashion designers. Actors should keep their focus on a desire to "direct" films not clothing lines. Athletes also put their names on clothing lines beyond sports gear and that too was a mistake. Most think because they have tons of dough to spend on luxury brand name clothes for themselves that that gives them a sense of style and the right to be a fashion designer. Can you say UGGLLLY!
With the recession economy money is tight for most people and even those still with tons of cash (if they weren't hurt by the Madoff scandal) want bargains too. So paying "full-price" for anything is now "out". That means high end retailers like Saks, Neiman-Marcus and Bloomingdales may be in for long term difficulty given historically they like to go back to full-price new seasonal merchandise soon as the Xmas retail season is over. Not so fast. I do not see this strategy working anymore. Consumers have become accustomed to big sales and will baulk at full price. If the luxury retailers have to put things on sale all year-round...and I don't mean just a few unsalable things....new items...their raison d'etre will no longer exist. Retail brands as we know them may change drastically in the coming year or two....with even some well-known well-established names biting the dust for good.
Finally, the LA Times Image Index says the iPhone is "out". I still like mine but it is true the cache that originally drove the brand is long gone especially with WalMart now selling the phone for less than retail. I am already looking for the next "in" phone/hand held computer gadget. I do think that expanding the retail landscape for Apple will mean some strong sales this year but does selling Apple products at WalMart negatively hurt the brand image? I say yes, big time. This may be an opportunity for another electronics brand to take on Apple. Even though Apple was successfully reaching the masses with everything from MacBook's to the iPhone it did it in a way that still communicated "cool", "hip" and "in". The association with WalMart changes that forever.
Watching out for you everyday.