Goods For The People

A. Levashova, Fashion and Economics. May 9, 1971


Original Source: Pravda, 9 May 1971, p. 2.

Trade organizations should have good information about the demands and tastes of the public. It must be admitted, however, that trade outlets and industry alike have as yet studied demand insufficiently and do not always respond quickly to the changes in it. We do not have shops specializing in selling the latest fashions.

Instead of carefully getting ready in advance to update the line of goods, instead of studying demand, industry waits for the trade outlets to place their orders. More and more often now one can see women wearing long skirts in the theater and long coats on the street. These are still generally homemade articles. Garment makers could manufacture them of higher quality and better design. Yet, the trade outlets intend only in 1972 to order about 20% of women’s clothing in maxi lengths.

Autumn and spring coats in the styles made by factories during the past two years are already beginning to pile up in stores and warehouses.

The problems stemming from fashion become increasingly acute as the broad market becomes more saturated with goods. The main barrier here is psychological. Should we make fitted or loose trousers, long or short skirts and coats? These are questions that no one undertakes to decide until the woman in the street sets the style.

The trouble is that we have practically no rational system of production and introduction of stylish goods. The functioning of the design organizations, the manufacturers and the trade outlets is not coordinated. A group of clothing items that should make up an ensemble is turned out in a mixture of styles; after buying a coat, you will spend a lot of time before you can find the right bag, hat or shoes The fashion councils of the various enterprises are not in touch with one another, and it turns out that, for example, the lining fabrics turned out by the Moscow silk combines Red Rose and Sverdlov generally do not match the color of the woolens that the Moscow Liberated Labor and Petr Alekseev mills produce for coats. The colors of fabrics are changed less often than they should be. Very often “forgotten” fabrics, such as, for example, gabardine at the moment, cashmere, crepe, and certain others, become fashionable.

How are the new styles in clothing, footwear, handbags and gloves chosen? Usually the various trade buyers choose them when they draw up the trade outlets’ orders for the industrial enterprises. The trade buyers of various goods work independently of one another. Under this system it is impossible to achieve unity of style in clothing. The trade buyer as a rule does not have the necessary information about the trend of demand for new articles. Naturally, he turns to the past season, often repeating orders for articles that have gone out of style.

Today the demand for new goods is not being tested experimentally anywhere. The trade organizations, drawing up millions of orders, cannot permit themselves to experiment with such big sums. The sale of small experimental lots of goods would permit a certain degree of risk. This is how the fashion specialists of industry could assess the customer’s demand.

One of the factors hindering the issue of new articles is the complicated procedure for approval of designs, technical specifications and prices. This procedure takes marry months. The price lists currently in effect make it unprofitable to manufacture whole categories of women’s clothing which are either completely missing from the garment makers’ product mix (lined suits, velveteen pants) or are turned out in insufficient numbers (women’s silk blouses). When the prices for the new articles are set, often they do not meet even the average profitability of other, analogous articles.

What conclusion suggests itself from the above? We must have a precise system for developing and introducing styles, under which, on the basis of thorough study of demand, it would be possible to organize mass production of new styles in a short time. Effective methods of forecasting are necessary, methods which can answer the questions not only of how much and where clothing, footwear and other goods will be demanded today and tomorrow, but also in what exact mixes, colors and average price.

The introduction of style innovations could be organized expediently in the following manner. The All Union Institute of Planning the Assortment of Goods of Light Industry and Fashion, together with the industry institutes, would prepare recommendations with respect to fabrics and decorative materials, on the basis of the real economic potential of the industry. Experimental lots of the new fabrics would be turned out in sufficient numbers to guarantee small-series production.

The fashion design houses would work up collections of new designs and issue them in trial series at experimental production facilities. The articles would go into stores specializing in the latest fashions. There the demand for small lots of imported goods could also be tested before purchasing in quantity. Advertising of the new articles would be organized simultaneously. The stores, together with the fashion design houses, would sum up and analyze the demand data. The trade organizations would use these data for making up sound mass orders from industry. After this, the fashion houses would turn over to the enterprises the specifications for the popular models, tested in experimental production to meet all technological requirements, and the enterprises would proceed to mass produce the goods.

The fashion design centers do not now always take into account the actual potentialities of industry, and the collections of new designs that they prepare do not always consider the requirements of the public. Our specialized fashion design bureau, working up models of new goods for light industry, has organized the production and sale of women’s clothing innovations in small series. The experiment showed that this is a good method for sounding out demand …

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press. Vol. XXIII, No. 19/38 (1971)

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