In response to my first post when I mentioned that DEs don’t cross merchandise their lines by prints and colors, Oxanna asked:
You mean DEs don’t do this?
Many do not. I think many designers are (or feel) limited by the fabric options and tend to create collections that are isolated. For example, a designer might show 5 groups at market, but all of them will use distinctly different fabric and none will cross merchandise. Within the group, you can put together a top and bottom, but you can’t pull a top from one group with a bottom from another. It’s almost as if each group was designed in isolation, as though they are individuals, not part of a family. I’ve seen it so much, that it really has become a pet peeve and frustrating.
In a larger enterprise, where the designer does not have to manage the entire production process, where they are not as intimately involved with the intricacies of fabric sourcing, and where larger production affords more options, I don’t see as much of that. The designer creates a cohesive collection from a bigger picture perspective.
DEs can do this too, with clever resourcefulness, but many do not. As a result, when you look at the entire line, all the pieces, it doesn’t make sense, there’s no harmony, there’s no story, there’s no cross merchandising.
In terms of cross-merchandising, is your peeve more that lines cannot be mix/matched within the same collection or with other lines in the store?
To me, they are inseparable. Lines that are cross merchandised within, tend to better merchandise across the board. Why? Because it really is a matter of designer perspective and a broader view. I said before that when you see lines like that, they appear that each group was designed in isolation, with tunnel vision. A designer who looks at their own line with tunnel vision is highly unlikely to consider the broader scope of merchandising when putting their line together.
If you’re doing a small line (6-10 pcs) is it ok to have 2 groups or would retailers prefer 1 grouping in such a small collection?
That’s a difficult question to answer because there’s no hard rule. If you have 6-10 pcs and you can only use 2 fabrics, when your next market date or delivery comes, pick up the same color family. That way if a consumer comes in and buys (for example) a girls pant set, they come back in 2 months later (in the same season) and pick up another piece that still coordinates. The retailer can keep fresh merchandise without having to completely isolate the customer’s previous purchase.
Let me give you a really good example, using my category (lingerie). A woman comes in and buys a really pretty bra and thong in coral (for example, any color but black, white, ivory and nude). If you designed the way that frustrates me, that woman can never come back and get anything else from your line to match what she has already invested in. If you cross merchandise, a month later, after her original style has sold out, she can come and get a boyshort and camisole in a print with that same coral in it. She can wear the boyshort and bra, camisole and thong, you get the picture. Clothing is the same and you will notice that really large companies try to keep with the same hue of a color throughout the line, throughout the season.
Try it, go into a designer’s retail store. You can’t always tell when you’re in a boutique or department store because the buyer has edited the offering. But if you walk into any designer’s retail store (if you live in a big city, you can do this), you will see a lot of color harmony throughout the store. Even at places like GAP, J Crew and such, you still see harmony, the store doesn’t look like a mish mash.
I find that when your line is well thought out enough to merchandise well within, the rest just takes care of itself.