Since I came to Japan over 5 years ago and through my travels in Hong Kong and Mainland China over the last 9 years, I have noticed a fashion trend which I do not agree with, businessmen wearing dark colored suits and light colored socks. I am sure you have seen it too and whenever I do see this mixture it makes me cringe, then smile and nod my heard. It reminds me of little boys getting dressed up for the first time for that first special occasion that requires them to wear a suit. A little boy you can look and smile at for not knowing any better and think that’s so cute, but do you smile at a businessman and think how cute it is when he is wearing a navy blue suit with sky blue ankle socks? No, you do not. I am not sure what goes through their minds in the morning when they are getting dressed – do they think wow, a brown suit and light beige socks with dark shoes look great together, or do they really have no clue? A friend of mine offered this explanation; he told me a lot of the men’s wives will do their clothes shopping for them and just by them for them. At first hearing this it sounds plausible but after considering it I think what’s wrong with the wives that they do this? Are they getting back at their husbands for some transgression or do they really not know too? And finally what about the single men who mismatch dark suits with light colored socks?
I am curious on the origins of this trend and what can be done to correct it if anything? What do you think? Thanks for reading and please match your socks to your suit or shoes. And don’t even get me started on different color belts and shoes…Timothy
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tokyo, Japan – end of December 2008, one morning. I am at my desk catching up on my fashion news on WWD.com and read that Japan as the US is now officially in a recession. It came to no surprise to me, as in my business and in my industry we are one of the first to see contraction in the economy. For me it started around January 2008. I had a team of 5 people including myself that specializes in executive search in the fashion & luxury goods industry in Japan and I could already feel the market contracting. There were less job openings, less positions being replaced, fewer stores opening and fewer products being ordered and purchased. One less customer buying a hand bag means one less person to stock shelves, one less person to import the bag, one less person to go to Italy, France, the US to buy the bag, one less person leads to…well, you see where I am going. As consumer spending decreases companies stop expanding; less hiring and building fewer new stores and eventually may even begin to layoff employees like is happening right now. This in turn lowers consumer confidence and spending even more and it’s a big circle that does not stop until consumers regain confidence through jobs and stability and that will not happen until companies increase sales and as we see from the above sales won’t increase until consumers have jobs and are confident…see the circle, it’s dizzying. Since the beginning of this year the impact can be really felt, though again in reality I felt it last year. You see when the economy goes bad one of the first things to suffer are luxury goods, hence the name luxury. Since consumers no longer have the disposable income or are too scared to spend it usually one of the first purchases to stop are luxury purchases – who needs luxury goods when you can’t afford to eat or pay rent…priorities are needed. Since I work as an executive search consultant who specializes in the fashion & luxury market I am feeling the economic contraction and for me the prioritizing started last year. When I saw the economy begin to slow down and my clients slow down their expansion and hiring I of course also slowed down my spending and consumption and here are a few of the ways I did so…since I have lived in Japan I have always used a dry cleaner; it is quick, efficient and not too expensive. Even though it is really convenient I decided I needed to prioritize so I stopped going to the dry cleaner and decided to wash and iron my own shirts (suits still go to the dry cleaner) and now I am saving at least 10,000 yen a month. Not a whole lot but over one year that is 120,000 yen – it’s a start. I also enjoy good food and good wine and I love to eat out and for me a night out eating and drinking wine would easily surpass 15,000 yen – luckily I cook, and have been told quite well too. My specialty is Italian so now I just go to a market like Yamaya and buy lots of pasta and wine and make my own sauce. Add a variety of chicken, fish, and vegetables and you have a different meal every night for the fraction of the price of a night out in Tokyo. Other things I have taken to are bringing lunch to work be it a bento or a sandwich nothing tastes better than a homemade lunch especially when going out for lunch can cost up to 1,200 yen a day. Besides food I now take the train a lot more. You see I used to be a taxi guy taking taxis everywhere, but since their prices increased and everything else has decreased, trains and buses are just as efficient, less expensive and sometimes quicker. And last but not least fashion. I find myself now shopping at a lot more sales (will I ever pay full-price again?) and buying more fast-fashion like H&M, Zara, and even the GAP and Uniqlo for certain items. With this past sale season I have stocked enough to last me the whole year…more on that and fast-fashion in my next post. In the meantime I am now seeing savings of over 50,000 a month in taxis, dinners, lunches and dry cleaning. When you make a list of what your expenses are you can clearly see where you can cut costs and save. I would like to know how the recession affecting you? Affecting your job, affecting your buying habits? I would like to hear from you and how you are coping and what steps you are taking to adjust to the current economy and come out the other side still looking fashionable. Thanks for reading, Timothy