REALITY TV RESCUES FASHION FLUBS WITH TLC S WHAT NOT TO WEAR


REALITY TV RESCUES FASHION FLUBS WITH TLC'S WHAT NOT TO WEAR

Thanks to 24/7 cable television, for every human failing there is a reality television show that is guaranteed to solve your problems, or at least offer suggestions and advice to the clueless. So too for the fashion-challenged. The BBC was first on the scene with its What Not to Wear show hosted by Susannah Constantine and Trinny Woodall. After doing stints in fashion reporting, the two got together for a Granada Television show about shopping and wrote the book Ready 2 Dress. The "fashion emergency" concept was snapped up by the BBC and thus an international phenomenon was born. TLC adapted the original concept for the U.S. market with two very American style gurus, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, as cohosts. The premise of both the American and British shows is the same: fashion victims (i.e., those who only know what not to wear) are nominated by friends to get a complete fashion, hair, and makeup makeover. The subjects come into the studio toting their entire bad wardrobe, which is critiqued, not gently but with ruthless, brutal honesty. With 99 percent of their wardrobes left on the trash heap of bad style, they are given a Visa card preprogrammed with a generous cash allowance, style rules of what kinds of clothes to buy, then sent off on a two-day shopping extravaganza in New York City. The first one to spend $5,000 on clothes that follow the rules wins. But old habits die hard, so a favorite feature of every show is the second day rescue when Stacy and Clinton pop up to personally pull their charges away from their old preferences in clothes and guide them toward fashions that work. By the end of the show, Cinderella is transformed into a princess and all is right with the world, until next week when another victim takes the cure. Everyone in my house knows not to disturb me on Friday nights between 10:00 and 11:00 when I get my weekly fashion fix.



OVERVIEW: PERSONAL LUXURIES PURCHASE INCIDENCE

Many of the product categories included in this year's survey of personal luxuries are new. All clothing and apparel was intentionally left out of previous years' surveys with the idea that clothing was a necessity and survey respondents would have a hard time distinguishing their necessity-based purchases from their emotional-based ones. This year, though, I threw caution to the wind and included apparel for many reasons, the most important of which is that women's apparel is the number one thing that I personally buy that I definitely don't need.

Women's apparel is the most widely purchased personal luxury based upon this survey, with 65 percent of consumers reporting a discretionary, desire-based purchase in the category (see Figure 6.1). Personal care products that are more "special" or" exclusive" than everyday brands are second most widely bought, with 64 percent purchase incidence. Next follows fashion accessories, such as handbags, shoes, wallets, scarves, and all the rest, bought by 63 percent of shoppers. Only 14 percent of the consumers surveyed made no discretionary purchases of personal luxuries.

 

2000

2001

2003

Women's clothing and apparel

  

65

Personal care products

50

71

64

Fashion accessories

  

63

Men's clothing

  

55

Jewelry and watches

40

48

46

Infant and children's clothing

  

36

Teen and tween clothing

  

24

None

  

14


Figure 6.1: Personal Luxuries Purchase Incidence (percentage)

So who are these people that deny themselves the pleasure of personal luxury shopping? They are mostly male, with some 20 percent of men surveyed doing without any of these items out of desire, as opposed to only 8 percent of women. They also are more likely to be 65 years and above, with 26 percent of the mature consumers not buying. The low-income households do without, as 17 percent of the under $25,000 house-holds do not buy. Some 21 percent of single people and those with no children are also more likely not to buy.

The rest of this chapter is devoted to profiling the markets for personal luxuries, including fashion accessories, jewelry and/or watches, infant and children's clothing, teen and tween clothing, men's clothing, women's clothing, and personal care products.