Have you bought your entire Spring/Summer 13 wardrobe yet?
Have you bought anything at all new for spring, bearing in mind that London was covered in snow last weekend, and half the UK is lying under snow right now.
No? I thought not. And nor have I. And if anyone should have made key purchases for spring, it's someone like me, who is co-founder of a shopping and style website, SoSensational.co.uk and therefore virtually required as a condition of her job description to look totally on-trend at all times.
I can't say I haven't looked, or been slightly tempted. But the reality is that, in February, with the snow laying thick and deep, temperatures hitting the minus-zero mark and the likelihood of at least six more weeks of severely chilly weather, what I most want to buy now is snuggly cashmere, a stunning scarf or fur tippet, wool-mix tights, possibly a new pair of ankle boots since mine are looking a bit battered, and perhaps even a new coat since I am a little bored with mine which is from (please don't tell the fashion police) winter 2011/12 season (but it does have leather sleeves, so was sufficiently cutting edge to carry on into this year).
But what is actually in the shops if I go to try to buy any of those items? Well mainly the bedraggled remnants of the winter collections that are about as appetising as a plate of cold curry, and generally to be found tucked away in a corner having been picked over since mid-November when the winter sale started two months too early.
And front and centre of the shops, the new spring collections in all their paintbox-bright and pastel glory, deliciously appetising in an abstract and academic way, but totally impractical in the aforementioned freezing weather. And by the time I get around to actually wanting to buy those pieces - the fuchsia biker jacket, the silky printed pencil skirt, the graphic print dress, the monochrome striped top - they, too, will look picked over and tired and far less alluring than they might have done if they had arrived in the shops fresh and untrammelled in March, roughly the point in the calendar when most normal women wish to make their spring purchases.
The same, of course, is true in summer. Just at the moment when most people are going on holiday, and wish to top up their supply of sandals, beachwear and filmy frocks, the shops are full of new season's stock. There on the rails is tweed, cashmere and leather for a winter season which won't arrive for two or three months.
It is Fashion Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome and it occurs to me to wonder when the industry became afflicted? When did it become necessary to buy pastels and linen in February and berry shades and wool in July in order not to miss out? When and why did the seasons become so muddled and truncated?
Part of the reason for this mad rush to get new collections into the shops is to keep up with the designer collections, which are, of necessity, an entire season ahead. It means that when magazines, newspapers, the blogosphere, Twittersphere and Instagram, bombard us with images and information from the catwalk collections for the following season, they are creating a desire for the trends, colours, silhouettes, fabric, print, bag shapes, shoes and jewellery of the next season before most normal consumers have even seriously considered, let alone made, their purchases for the current season.
Think I am exaggerating? It is barely mid-February, but New York Fashion Week - for Autumn/Winter 2013/14 - has been and gone. As you read this, London Fashion Week (again, of course, for A/W 2013/14) is starting, with Milan and Paris to follow. Everything is speeded up in a mad whirl to encourage us to buy now, before this skirt or that dress is no longer available, before a trend has had a moment to bed in, before any of us have a chance to think whether we want or need a garment.
It is the logic - if logic is the word in this context - behind the earlier and earlier collections and the mad system of waiting lists for key items.
But in the long term, by telescoping the seasons, putting new season stock in so early and then starting sales so quickly, the fashion industry is shooting itself in its Louboutin-shod foot. After all, when we all know the mark-downs are going to start in late November, why would we - unless we are very rich or receive a vast press discount - buy at full price in early November when we can buy at 30% off a few weeks later. And - also worth consideration - if there was pristine cashmere, beautiful boots and wonderful coats in the shops in January and February, how much more likely would we be to spend our money.
All of this, of course, creates a strong argument for internet shopping: you can buy cashmere in February, sandals in August and everything else when you want it. And, best of all, it will arrive in pristine condition....
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