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Is seasonality meaningful these days?

Its 28 degrees outside (82.4 Fahreneit)…you had better rug up!

It’s only February and we’re already seeing overcoats in stores in Australia. If you don’t know how crazy that is …it was a beautiful, sunny, 28 degrees (82.4 degrees fahrenheit) in Sydney on the day that I tried this coat on. We have had a crappy summer this year and there hasn’t been a hell of a lot of  beach weather but it doesn’t mean that Sydneysiders are ready to don overcoats. To give you a bit of context, in reality you we only need an overcoat in Sydney for about 4 weeks a year and the time you would actually need to use a coat like this would be at best, 4 months away!

Does Spring/Summer or  Fall/Winter mean anything in a digital age? Surely in an era of international shopping (and shipping) we need to re-examine how and when collections are delivered into stores. Perhaps seasons need to be more fluid and styles should become available to us locally closer to the time that we actually need them. February in Sydney might  be a time for brands to introduce the new seasons colour palate, some light layering pieces or perhaps adding the new seasons silhouettes but it’s not a time when consumers are ready for full-scale winter.

‘I actually loved this coat but it seems ludicrous buying it so far ahead…and if I love something… I usually have no problems justifying the purchase to myself. An international luxury label may be able get away with this but not a local chain-store. I was still much more in the mood to purchase a sun dress or a lighter blazer.

I’m not a hater…I buy a lot of Cue, I think their clothes are well made, well priced, on trend and some of the best service I have had in a long time was by Poppy in the Cue Double Bay store . Furthermore,  I love the fact that they produce the majority of their collection locally and I like that the brand keeps a whole lot of local fashion professionals in a job.’ – Hannah Brooks

That’s exactly what makes the February release of this style by Cue so curious. The brand has production facilities located in Australia, they have greatly reduced lead times and pride themselves on delivering international trends into Australian stores in a matter of weeks. So if we did have a unseasonably cold start to winter Cue would be in a much better position to pull production forward on this style – so why release it so early then? Australian retailers constantly complain that Australian consumers have a “sale mentality” and that they won’t buy anything at full price. Practices like this have created Australian shoppers like this. If you release the style this early we know it will go on sale before we actually need it. It seems like a lost opportunity all round.

Sure…a certain amount of demand will always be off-season. I worked for an outdoor brand that sold almost as much polar-fleece to our wholesale clients for their customers heading overseas in summer, as we did in winter. Cruise Collections have always  produced a summer range for consumers heading to warmer climates during their winter. In Australia many of the swimwear brands have started to produce a small range for March deliveries so their customers don’t have to wait till July to update their saggy swimwear – but are these practices enough?

In doing research for this post I stumbled across this article by Yuli Ziv who tends to agree that the traditional concepts of seasons are absurd, she suggests that designers will move away from the practice of producing seasonal collections and instead start to focus on “key pieces”http://yuliziv.com/2010/01/17/the-future-of-fashion-seasons-are-so-last-season/

Just as an aside…while I was trying on the jacket I also noticed this…

The inside label says “fabric from Europe“…not “fabric made in Europe”. Are Cue are being deliberately ambiguous with this labeling? There is a big difference between a fabric that is sourced from a European manufacturer and made in Asia than one that is actually  milled in Europe (both in cost and quality). It reminds me of when Country Road www.countryroad.com.au used to tag their clothing with ” Made in British Hong Kong”… because heaven forbid they had to admit their collections were actually made in China!

The Cue website is also a little ambiguous, in saying “we also work with the most prestigious fabric mills in Europe to develop fabrics to our own specifications and with our own print designs, meaning that you won’t see those prints and fabrics anywhere else. So you can be on trend, and live life in fashion on Cue.” www.cue.com.au This suggests that the fabric is milled in Europe but I suppose it still leaves us asking if that’s the case why aren’t the garments labelled “Fabric Made in Europe”…or just say the fabric is exclusive to Cue in Australia.

I will call the Cue HO on Monday for further clarification as to what this label actually means…but at the moment I’m still a bit confused – Hannah Brooks

What are your thoughts…do you get frustrated because you can’t find the right seasons clothes in stores when you need them?

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