Fashion Adopters and types of consumers
Now it’s time to have a look at the different people, who shape the fashion trends, and the people who follow lead – who are they really? On with the fashion glasses one more time, and let’s take a closer look at the bell curve for Trends, and see how it translate into different Fashion Adopters. Let’s also find out where Fashion Designers fit in in all of this, and find some examples of who the Innovators of today’s trendiness are.
‘To fit in or not to fit in’ – that is what Shakespeare might have said about our bell-curved diagram below describing the different types of consumers, and where in the process of adaption, they exist. It puts all of us, the consumers, into 5 different segments of Fashion Adopter types, but it can also describe how consumers adopt other things than fashion. Originally it was developed to describe, peoples’ willing ness to try something new, an Innovation, and in a certain sense, an Innovation isn’t very different from a Trend.
It’s not always possible to fit someone into one box only, as the behaviour can vary over time with changing circumstances etc. It’s a useful tool, though, to understand how Trends develop, as they’re pushed forward in the curve from various segments.
There are 5 Adopter types; First Movers also called Fashion Innovators, and they usually wear items or do things long before, it actually becomes trendy. They will also most likely stop wearing and doing something, when it becomes trendier, more widely accepted, and the trend it exposed by the media and/or Early Adopters etc. This small group consists, among others, of the creative group of society. With creatives, we mean in the sense of thinking and acting out their ideals being it political, environmental, or artistic, and just think of David Bowie or Coco Chanel regarding the way, they exposed their believes through music and fashion and changed the common perceptions.
In an upcoming post, we will look at how Bowie influenced fashion – and actually still does. When we as fashion designers look for ‘Sparkling Stars’, it can be a really good idea to keep a close eye on what this segment is up too. It can be anyone with a strong individuality and personality that is not afraid of going upstream, and doing ones own thing, regardless of what everyone else does. Therefore it’s not very specific for any group of people, but is rather a personality trait that can be found in even really young people. And the thing with these people is that they have a knack for good ideas, and through their strong personality, they can make most things work.
The second Adopter segment is the Opinion Leaders also called the Early Adopters. This group now takes on a Proposal/Idea making it more edible, and more exposable to the mass media, and we can start to see a Trend forming. People in this group are often artists, young people in an experimental phase, homosexuals, celebrities and it-girls. An example could be the Kardashians; celebrities with a “good” eye for Trends, and the followers to lead it on. If a fashion Trend makes it this far, we will know, we are on to a winner, making it desirable for our 2 next segments.
In the third and fourth group, we have Early Majority and Late Majority, who will only react and engage with a Trend, when it is has been exposed for some time and is not to dangerous to touch. It has to be validated by more courageous and risk-taking people. These 2 groups of fashion followers are the biggest segments of consumers, which make them very important for the fashion industry. It’s simply here the money are earned, and the segments advertising is aiming at convincing.
It is hard to narrow down the arch type of this adopter, because it holds a big mass of today’s consumers, and most people fall into this segment. But imagine a person, who cares about his or her looks, but without having to prove herself this way or demanding too much attention.
The last group is called Laggards. It’s not a very flattering word, as in essence it’s someone who is slow and falls behind other, but it is also who these people are. They will catch a Trend only as it is fading. The positive thing about being a Laggard, though, is that they will buy most things on discount or sale, when dropped by everyone else. Happy Laggard Life!
As Fashion Designers, we most likely reside amongst the Fashion Innovators, as being the group with a strong urge to express something – either by wearing it ourselves or expressing it in our designs. Being a Fashion Designer mainly takes two things; having an idea about what going to work next (being trendy) and the confidence to launch it and make it work. Sometimes it can also be something you simply recognize with other Fashion Innovators and will convince you that this is the ‘Next, Big Thing’. In essence, though, it’s in this group, where you either contribute or go looking for inspiration – sniffing up Trends so you can make them available (propose them) to the masses. As this is where we want to be, and be good at what we do, it’s a good idea to nourish those trend forecasting skills like we touched upon in post 1, and we will get right back with practical information in the following post about ‘How to spot a Fashion Trend’.
Examples of Fashion Innovators could be Hari Nef or Willow Smith but there are many others Hari Nef, age 22, is interesting being a trans(gender) parent, writer, actress, and now a fashion it-girl. She leads the way as role model for many people and not just transgenders, as standing up for who she is. Two other things are important though; she does it with extreme self-confidence and savoir-faire that makes us fall in love with her face, posture and taste. Secondly that she happened at just the right time, where people were ready to engage in the trend. She has starred in Gucci aw16 menswear fashion show making it the talk of the town and stated her as fashion icon in spe, and movies are coming out.
Willow Smith, 15-years-old, is the daughter of Hollywood actor Will Smith. She is an artist, a singer and a spiritual evocative, who just became ambassadress for Chanel, and showing the world that just being yourself is ‘the new Black’. Being both political, environmental and carting a new form of femininity, she displays a fashionable role model with empathy and edge. She makes woman power look cool even at her young age. Of course, as with Hari Nef, she’s not the first to propose woman power, but she still has an attitude and new take that makes us want to follow. Like with Nef, it’s feels fresh and fashion. It feels right – right now.
They both embody a new style of expression – a new era in fashion, where transparency, gender fluidity, new femininity and being yourself – whatever that may be – are the new rules, and the trends that will most likely have an impact on the future of fashion and us as both designers and consumers. Funny enough, it was the exact same thing that Bowie and Chanel did; they were themselves, they proposed their idea, and the world loved it. It was done with courage, and that is always very inspiring and very convincing. That will never go out of fashion.