By Lynn Wambui Karege
Mention clothes shopping and women will go gaga over it. No matter how many clothes a woman has in her hand closet she will never admit to having enough, so the phrase used by a lot of women globally is “I have nothing to wear’’. But clothes’s shopping has evolved over the years from the wearing twigs and leaves by Adam and Eve to the Stone Age where the animal skin took over whose main purpose was to provide covering and warmth.
Enter the Victorian and Edward era where clothes were mass produced thus making shopping easier, which was later refined between 1939-1945 in the United Kingdom leading to the rise of departmental stores some of which included Jolly of Bath, Bainbridge’s of Newcastle, Kendal Milne of Manchester and Whiteley’s .
The rise of departmental stores led to creation of pitch and reward as channels of power. Stores used the power of persuasion to attract customers to visit their stores. Signs such as ‘sale’ or ‘great discounts inside’ on the store windows were used to attract customers to the shops hence the power of reward. Fast forward in the 21st century and enter the “more” generation. A generation that doesn’t just want to confound to how things have been, they do not just want mass produced items and are not just persuaded by the power of persuasion-discounts on clothes-but because they are more socially and culturally aware, more travelled and are up to date on the emerging trends thanks to smart phones they are able to determine the quality of products that they want and the style they want it in. They demand clothes that are of high quality and fashionable. As much as the power of persuasion and reward is still effective today it is not nearly as effective as it was before the digital age because customers are more liberated than they were back then.
With the rise of online stores such as ‘MIMI’ Kenya or the more famous ‘Jumia’ in Kenya, consumers nowadays shop at the comfort of their homes. With the use of a smart phone ladies are setting up online boutiques complete with all the accessories and consumers are able to view all the items at once without the hustle of walking from one shopping mall to the next. To make things even simpler the online boutiques provide home delivery on products bought. Clients are able to make online purchases using their credit card numbers or m-pesa at the touch of a button According to London Associated Press (AP) Fashion shows have long been about dictating taste, a chance for designers to court powerful magazine editors like Vogue’s Anna Wintour in hopes of winning favorable reviews and, better yet, magazine editor as that consumers would pore over before going shopping. But networked power that own clothing factories, departments and fashion houses are rendered powerless as bloggers and ‘fashionistas’ are now determining the trends.
In the era of digital age two young men Gaetan and Baville have launched a virtual fitting room room dubbed Fitle that allows you to try clothes on a customized 3D avatar of yourself. To use Fitle, you enter your height and take four iPhone pictures of yourself at different angles. In 30 seconds, Fitle creates a customized 3D avatar that its founders say is accurate 99 percent of the time. This eliminates the hustle of physically trying on clothes and the embarrassing moment of a customer coming to the fitting cubicle as you are fitting clothes. As we embrace the digital era things are looking brighter for the fashion department.