Whether on the runways or Milan, Paris or at Fashion Week in NYC, couture is the driver behind so many retail industries. Apparel, home, beauty and cosmetics all of take their design and color cues from the world of fashion.
If you’re like me, you get stacks of catalogs in your mailbox. These catalogs serve a two-fold purpose — The first is to get you to buy things (duh) and the second is that they can serve as a window into what’s hot in design and color — trends that you can use to impact your business.
Pick up a few catalogs you have at home and start flipping through them. I picked up Williams-Sonoma Home, Bloomingdales and Hammacher Schlemmer catalogs. As you turn the pages, you’ll see the colors of blue (a lot of light blue and even robin’s egg blue) and chartreuse are the hot colors of summer. Whether used in products or as backgrounds for pages or photos, or as settings that products are placed in, they are THE colors that retailers are focusing on. In a Bloomingdales catalog, they show two shades of green DiorShow cosmetics, a light blue pinstriped men’s dress shirt, chartreuse and yellow dinnerware, a blue KitchenAid mixer, blue accents used in tooth care and shaving tools, a chartreuse room that’s used as a backdrop for a bedroom set, a set of chartreuse towels — well, you get the point – the colors are in every category of business.
And we haven’t even talked about where the trends originate — fashion. Take a look at the TV ads on the air from Target and Old Navy right now. They’re both showing muted prints and even a green or blue on swimming suits and summer apparel and both companies are saying it’s okay to mix and match these prints with each other and with solids and that they all work together. The backgrounds the ads are shot in? Greens and blues (it is summer after all but they’re showcasing the colors on their websites too).
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Keep your eye on fashion. Shopping trips should no longer be shopping trips but studying trips. What are other retailers showcasing in their windows and their stores? Start studying and you’ll see consistent colors and styles (like muted prints) show up. And these change every few months.
Since apparel retailers work so far out (they have to understand the upcoming trends, design the apparel, source it, manufacture it, then ship it to their distribution centers and finally into stores), they’re always on trend.
As a small retailer, you don’t have the resources to buy trend information and reports. But that doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on the trends.
Study early, right when retailers are presenting new merchandise for the season (we all know that swimwear is showing up in department stores when it’s still 10 degrees outside). Then use the information to impact your business.
1. Bring in products that tie back to the trend – anything you can get that’s on trend and fits with your retail concept and is relevant to your customer is a good bet. Don’t make it your entire initiative, just a showcase. And that brings me to my next point.
2. Create a feature area in your store that showcases various products in the colors that are hot. Think Williams-Sonoma – the basic product mix always is the same, but a new feature area in the front of the store that’s on trend and related to seasonality is presented every 4-6 weeks to tell the customer there’s always something new. Just pulling together a color statement of products (in blue and green in this case) ensures you’re in tune with what’s hot in retailing. You can even use props or a simple colored banner to serve as a backdrop to create your showcase area. Your customers will recognize it since so many retailers are blaring their message (“I have to get chartreuse towels for the pool”) that shoppers will keep their eyes open for other products that complement the purchases they’re making.
3. Use the hot color palette in your marketing. Whether you use email or direct marketing, the key is to use splashes of it as accents (don’t let it overtake your brand).