20 October 2012

The Latest YouTube Sensation

We have entered an era where technology has taken over the traditional ways we used to communicate. Instead of telephoning someone, we text them on our mobiles; instead of sending a friend a letter to invite them to our birthday, we make a Facebook event; instead of ranting to our Mums about the mean man on the train that wouldn't move across so that we could have a seat, we rant in a tweet. We read our social networking news feeds like they are the morning paper. We are so connected in today's society that news travels obscenely fast, and the longing for fresh, new information means that we are spending a large chunk of our waking lives staring at computer and mobile phone screens. 

This constant sharing and interacting has had a knock on effect, and is now giving ordinary people that wouldn't usually get the time of day a spotlight to shine.  Celebrities used to become celebrities because they had talent, now apparently if you don't have talent, but a stupid song with a video that people can laugh at, then you get the go ahead to become famous. 

Cue American pop 'singer' Rebecca Black with Friday, whose YouTube video became an online sensation overnight with over one million views:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfVsfOSbJY0

And the latest YouTube sensation, who has broken the record with the highest number of views on the video sharing site ever (516 million and counting)! It's South Korean rapper Psy with Gangnam Style: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0

The horse dance that can be seen so beautifully executed in the video has been replicated by today's youth in nightclubs up and down the country. Admittedly, I have been one of them!

But... It's not just in nightclubs! Last night Kane and I went to TGI's for a meal and halfway through chomping on our Jack Daniels chicken we were interrupted by Gangnam Style on the stereo system, on full blast, while the waiters and waitresses paraded around us trying to copy the moves seen in the video. It was ridiculous, but certainly livened up our meal! 

It just proves that YouTube sensations are taking over our lives! Not just through online platforms anymore, but offline as well. 

I think this is fine if the 'sensation' has genuine talent, but I'm not convinced Rebecca Black, or even Psy, does. I suppose he can dance the horse dance well. 

Now, Jenna Marbles is a character that my friends and I have been talking about a lot lately. I think she should be the next YouTube sensation as she actually has talent! Her video concepts, and the content in them, are genuinely humorous and entertaining! And it works because she is a down to earth, normal girl just talking about issues that we can relate to in every day life.

This is one of my favourite videos of hers about how girls always overpack suitcases:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3qiXZRFmRY

Jenna Marbles is someone that actually deserves the spotlight to shine and, with her YouTube following increasing each day, it looks like she might get it. 

Support genuine talent, not just the latest fad. Go, Jenna! 
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Cruel Sea Ahoy

So one of the hottest looks for men for A/W 12 is Cruel Sea, Winter's take on the nautical theme of S/S 12.

Stripes are still very much involved, with the traditional red, white and blue colour palette evolving to include Autumnal shades of berry, ivory and navy. 

Along with the A/W 12 wardrobe staple of chinos, this look also entails cable knit jumpers, boating-style smock jackets, sturdy boots (white sole preferable) and, of course, the horizontal striped tees and shirts that S/S 12 made imperative to the nautical trend.

The look is showcased here through the Debenhams hotspot that I had to dress to this trend recently, using products by young fashion brands Red Herring, J Jeans by Jasper Conran, Mantaray and St. George by Duffer:



The coolest way to look like you own a boat without actually owning one!
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14 October 2012

'Life Made Fabulous' at Debenhams

I'm currently visual merchandising for Debenhams so I'm starting to learn a lot in terms of the company and its products.

Debenhams is a mid-market family department store with a main focus on fashion and beauty, but it also sells homeware. It has a comprehensive private label portfolio, with brands such as Red Herring, Bluezoo and Maine New England, as well as a designer label portfolio, with brands such as Star by Julien Macdonald, Jasper Conran and John Rocha.

Debenhams is a top three department store retailer, with M&S (UK non-food) and John Lewis at number one and two respectively. The store that I am currently working in is Leeds White Rose, which is the top seven UK store in the company in terms of sales and shopping experience. I am proud to be working for such a reputable company and enjoying learning new knowledge and skills.

But I just wanted to talk a little bit about Debenhams' marketing and their debut campaign 'Life Made Fabulous'.


Debenhams is seen by some people as the cheaper, more accessible department store compared to competitors John Lewis, House of Fraser and Harrods. This is because its brands' customer profiles vary from young fashion (Henry Holland's 17-25 target age group) to older, more sophisticated fashion (John Rocha's 35-45 target age group); therefore Debenhams' young fashion brands have to account for the fact that the younger generation are extremely price-conscious at the moment due to the recession and growing youth unemployment, and are having to offer good value for money. But its current campaign is very clever in trying to upmarket Debenhams' image. The 'Life Made Fabulous' tagline gives off glamorous and positive connotations, selling a luxurious lifestyle that consumers will want to be part of.

The TV advert is extremely well done, showcasing each designer (Julien Macdonald, John Rocha and Henry Holland) manufacturing the clothes before switching to smiley, happy models, in various settings acting young and carefree, wearing the clothes. This, coupled with Two Door Cinema Club's 'This is the Life' song, is super effective with its message suggesting that if you shop at Debenhams, you will not only look fabulous, but feel fabulous, and lead a fabulous life.

Check it out, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljiy5oIf4LE

I'm impressed!
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7 October 2012

Berrytastic Boyfriend

I don't know if you remember me saying in a post, a long time ago, that if I got a boyfriend again I would have to make sure he wears the trends like I do.

Well...

I've been with Kane for almost eight months now, and I've decided that eight months is a perfect amount of time to have waited before I pimp his wardrobe!

His birthday is coming up, which is the best excuse! I ordered a few things from Topman and last weekend, when I went to his hometown Bristol to visit him, I made him try them on so I could return/exchange them if they weren't right before it was too late.

The trend I focussed on? A/W 12's Berrytastic!

His personal style is quite laid-back and safe, so I didn't want to go too 'out there' for my first time pimping his wardrobe - because if he did, he might not let me again!

So I went for an understated striped tee with navy chinos (chinos are still massive this A/W!) and maroon plimsoles (any shoe with a white sole is also in):


A beautiful berry-coloured jumper:



And a checked shirt with that same berry colour running through it, as well as elbow patches (an element of this A/W's country classics trend):


He looks good, huh?
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Fashion Trends for A/W 12

It's official - the A/W season is upon us!

Let us start in the usual way, by outlining key trends for women and men before exploring them in more detail in future posts.

Womenswear Trends

1. Androgyny - girl meets boy
2. Retro Seventies - from trouser suits to disco sparkle
3. Mistress - leather and lace
4. Town and Country Heritage - from military chic to country minimalism
5. Rich and Regal - opulence and glamour

Menswear Trends

1. Cruel Sea - Winter's take on the nautical theme
2. Cafe Society Smart - the pristine, formal look with blazers and dinner jackets
3. Bohemian Seventies - from floral shirts to bootleg cut trousers
4. Country Classics - Barbour style jackets galore
5. Berrytastic - from maroons to plums, this is the colour for a man to be seen in this A/W

More to follow!
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Graduation Glamour

Yes, all the hard work (the blood, sweat and tears) was worth it in the end!

I got to graduate from Uni with a 2:1! And it was a great day.




However, I REALLY struggled with finding the right dress beforehand. The letter said 'formal wear' was a must, so I instantly thought a classic LBD would do the trick.

I went everywhere looking for the perfect one, on numerous occasions. Then I FINALLY found the beauty that I had been waiting for...


...And it was from Wallis, surprisingly, in Debenhams! I had never bought a dress from there before but, you know what they say, there's a first for everything. This modern take on the 1960's shift dress, with a midi skirt length and ruching on the body, was a huge hit on the day.

It just proves that sometimes you should try breaking out of your shopping comfort zone and you might find that it all works out.

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Final Year Uni Project


My final year Uni project involved two stages: research and implementation. It was all about the fact that I, theoretically, discovered a business opportunity for Gap (UK) to launch a new sub-brand.


Market Research

Initial company and casualwear market research revealed that the Gap UK brand, unlike key competitors A&F, Hollister, Jack Wills and Superdry, is experiencing a decline in sales, profit and market share.

Conducting a consumer survey showed that Gap has an older, loyal customer base, but they are not currently satisfying the needs of 18-24 year old consumers who are seeking more ‘new’, ‘unique’, ‘exciting’ and ‘trendier’ clothing.

I expressed my belief that Gap should look to build loyalty in a sector with disposable income where young people are forming brand allegiances and making purchasing choices for life, and bridge the gap from GapKids to the mainline, through a new sub-brand aimed at the 18-24 market.

Consumer Segmentation

Survey results confirmed that a small proportion of 18-24s form the existing ‘functional’ consumer segment, who occasionally shop at Gap for functional basics, but the majority of 18-24s form the new ‘fashion-forward’ consumer segment, who should be the target priority.

However, the sub-brand should cater for both consumer segments with a USP of using sustainable fabrics across the whole product range to tie in with Gap Inc’s high quality and ethical standards. The sub-brand’s identity and name should be created around the idea of the future, as sustainable products are the future of the fashion industry.

Branding

It should be called Destiny, and its logo should state ‘for Gap’ in order to create a more fashionable image for the parent brand.

The Marketing Mix (The Four P's)

Its first product range should be based on the S/S 13 trends and follow the ‘good, better, best’ system, improving in fashionability, quality, sustainability and increasing in price from ‘good’ to ‘best’.



Initial research found a gap in the UK casualwear market for a brand with a low-mid market price positioning. However, Destiny should adopt a more mid-market price positioning due to the higher costs of sustainable fabrics. Its RRP’s should still fall between Topshop/Topman and H&M, and be more affordable than Gap, in line with feedback from a focus group.

Destiny should be treated as a trial and sold as a concession in Gap’s largest flagship store, on Oxford Street in London, as well as having its own section of Gap’s website.

Financial Implications

Conducting a three year sales forecast, with profit and loss accounts, showed that Destiny would make a loss during year one, break even in year two and make a decent profit in year three – due to extra marketing spend to build a profile for the brand in years one and two, before resuming the norm in year three.

Half of the 10% marketing spend budget in year one should go towards a S/S 13 communication strategy, to raise awareness of the launch of Destiny and drive WOM, store footfall and website hits. 



This should be a four-part strategy with the creative campaign idea of ‘Be Ahead of Time’ to communicate the brand’s future themed identity and sustainable product range.


The first part would consist of a competition for young designers and an in store, PR, catwalk show launch event. The second part would involve regional advertising in London through outdoor and print mediums.


Then the third part would involve in store marketing through the concession’s fixtures in the flagship, and print advertising through posters and flyers in all Gap stores.

The final part would involve online advertising on their website and social media platforms (such as Facebook and YouTube), as well as utilising SEO.


This campaign would be implemented from June 2012 to January 2013 and, after conducting research, would cost £246,439.44.

Measuring Success and Future Recommendations

Success would be measured by reviewing sales performance, monitoring website and social media page hits, analysing flagship store traffic, monitoring press coverage and implementing customer surveys. Then an A/W 13 communication strategy could be launched.

After the first two years of business, the sub-brand would have the opportunity to roll out into more Gap stores, expand its product offer or conduct a completely standalone trial through its own store and website.

Even though this was a theoretical project, I felt strongly that the launch of Destiny for Gap would be a success. This is because it is a brand built on the strong foundations of a differentiated marketing led strategy, ahead of its time, catering for the 18-24 market and bridging the gap between Gap Kids and the mainline - ultimately increasing sales, profit and market share for the parent Gap Brand.


(Note: please do not copy. This post contains original artwork and ideas by myself, as well as images courtesy of Gap Inc, Corbis and WGSN.)

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Year Long Absence Apology

Greetings, fellow fashion bloggers! It has been just over one year since my last post, and for that I do apologise! But there are reasons.

It has been a busy year for me. The intense workload of my final year at University meant that it became almost impossible to post from October 2011-June 2012. Then I had technical difficulties with my laptop which resulted in me having to purchase a new one. Then I tried to get my account back up and running whilst I applied for jobs, but I experienced some problems with getting back in... But at last, I managed to solve the problems and now I am here! And I'm ready to spy trends again, and write about them!

To kick-start this new chapter of my blog, I just want to start by showing you what I've been doing since I last posted. To new followers: welcome. To old followers: welcome back!
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