Trend direction — end of an era?

Today’s Retail Wire comment touches on the New York Times article that appeared over the weekend, regarding the number of established retailers shutting down their “Fashion Director” functions. Here’s what I had to say:

For a relatively small cost, fashion and trend directors can help steer department stores and luxury retailers toward “big ideas.” Most national companies drive their apparel product development a year in advance, and it seems a small price to pay if fashion directors can help galvanize their stores (and, in turn, their consumers) in a particular trend direction. If anything, this role might be more important for the Macy’s of the world rather than a store like Neiman Marcus, where so much trend direction is set by individual designers anyway. One of the underlying causes of the current retail slump is the lack of a “big idea” — it’s not just about the economy — so this trend looks short-sighted to me.

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