7003 Research Task – A piece of primary research testing my research and FMP concept against the innovative youth consumer.

CONTEXT

This piece of primary research is designed to test the hypothesis underpinning my FMP brand concept, that the innovative consumer has become disillusioned with the fast fashion structure dominating the industry.

Contemporary Fashion theory highlights how Millennial Blog culture has democratised fashion, taking it’s definition away from the confines of an exclusive group of designers editors and buyers, and on to the street.  There is now a general understanding that ‘fashion’ can be whatever you intend it to be, rather than a set thing defined each season.  This has left the fast-fashion model structuring the industry in crisis, as the increasingly empowered innovative consumer looks to alternative avenues define their own style outside of seasonal trends.

My FMP brand concept ties into this discourse to propose an ‘alternative retail avenue’, which enables the consumer as creator. Process and product is confined within a single space allowing consumers to collaborate with young designers with a variety of distinct creative identities to co-create a garment that strongly aligns with their wants and needs.

THE RESEARCH PROCESS

To test this hypothesis and my FMP brand concept on the innovative consumer, I required access to a segment of this market.  I therefore decided to head down to UCA’s Canterbury and Rochester campus, where I know from both my RM/C primary research focused on the Epsom UCA community and my experience as a student here, that there is a significant concentration of this consumer identity who would be receptive to these ideas.  My past RM/C experience of the lack of participation and poor quality of data  gathered in online surveys, made me want to engage with this consumer market face to face.  This was the correct decision, as the rapport that can be generated from this informal method of data collection unlike the detached nature of online surveys, resulted in more authentic, credible data.

DISCUSSION

Fast Fashion…

As expected of the innovative consumer market, the majority of participants strongly identified themselves as ‘anti-fast fashion’.  Those who did not were largely apathetic

The primary reason for this anti fast-fashion positioning, was the uniformity of products available under this model which only presented a singular definition of fashion and homogenised consumers. Conversely this empowered consumer market prides itself on it’s individuality. This gives them the desire to  source unique products signifying their difference.

This was reinforced by the fact that 84% of participants chose to predominantly shop outside of the high-street, favouring designer, vintage and charity shops, to create a look unique to them.

Other reasons which emerged, included the poor quality of products, the lack of value and meaning in fast-fashion purchases, and their environmental consequences.

My FMP Brand Concept…

100% of participants responded positively to my brand concept.

92% of participants identified as having a distinct individual style outside of seasonal trends . These participants were particularly in favour of a co-design concept as they knew what they wanted from their clothing and could create something to align with their wants and needs.

A few commented on how fast fashion denies them access to creativity, authentic design and craftsmanship. Access to co-designers with a distinct range of creative identities these consumers could align their wants against, would challenge these features as a preserve of the incredibly wealthy.

The participants found no pleasure in buying something to throw away the following season when it was no longer considered fashionable.  They wanted to love their wardrobes and felt having access to a retail space such as this which empowers them as creators would enable them to a realise this.

All negative reactions were focused outside of the idea itself, on the feasibility of implementing this concept in the existing market.  Issues surrounding proftiability, sustainability and technology were raised, which I have already considered and will address in my FMP proposal.

CONCLUSIONS

This piece of primary research was incredibly valuable at putting the hypothesis I have developed from my 7003 research this term to the test.

Ultimately, it reinforced the perspective of contemporary fashion theory that the innovative consumer of the millennial generation first and foremost understands themselves as a unique individual who wishes to define their own fashion.

Consequently, my participants, representing this consumer segment, were incredibly receptive to my FMP brand concept which positions the consumer as creator.

Any reservations about the feasibility of this concept which were raised, I will specifically address in my FMP proposal.

LIMITATIONS

As much as i was able to ensure that my participants represented the innovative consumer market, I have to acknowledge that these re only the opinions of a very small segment of that market.  Whilst valuable in situating my concept in the dynamics of contemporary culture , this data cannot be validly  extrapolated to the whole innovative youth population.

When asking for opinions on my FMP brand concept, I was sure to make my manner as objective as possible. This was so my participants did not feel as if they would be offending me by giving their honest opinion. However, despite this conscious mitigation, my clear investment in the subject would undeniably have had a biasing effect.

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