Sellers of Experience: The New Face of Fashion Retail and the Role of Consumers as ‘Store Readers’

Marco Luca Pedroni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Most scholars agree in affirming that fashion is about two main phenomena: changing and creating. Both actions concern the production or renovation of products but also new ways to sell them. In recent times, the categories of periodicity and obsolescence have spread from fashion production to fashion distribution, turning the retail spaces into something that requires a continuous rethinking in order to fulfil the desires of the consumers. Fashion retail is nowadays not just a mechanism through which the clothes reach customers but a key tool for creating the brand image. This need has been translated into a wide range of distribution options. The main fashion retail formats could be described by positioning them in a two-axis map that considers the nature of the store (multi- brand vs. single-brand) and its ability to offer an exciting experience to the customer (high experience/symbolic power vs. low power). This paper will focus on the variety of fashion retail formats, with particular attention to the most innovative ones (e.g.: concept and flagship stores, temporary shops, e-commerce), by discussing trends impacting on fashion retails. Finally, the evolution of fashion retail will be examined by proposing a three-stage timeline: (a) the shop as a point of sale (in a Fordist and product-driven market); (b) the shop as a point of purchase (in a Postfordist and consumer-driven market); (c) the shop as a point of experience (in the contemporary market driven by experience and consumption as a part of citizens’ lifestyles). Through this examination, I shall reconsider fashion retail in a sociological perspective by exploring stores as places where people have meaningful experiences in their everyday life, but also as texts that the consumer- reader can read and interpret by accepting (fully or partially) or refusing the meanings incorporated in the store-text.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Production to Consumption: The Cultural Industry of Fashion, Inter-disciplinary
EditorsMARCO LUCA PEDRONI
Pages127-144
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Cultural Industry
  • Cultural Intermediaries
  • Fashion

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