Fashion and Retail Predictions for 2009

1. Michelle Obama will redefine fashion and the role of African American women (and moms) in fashion and in the media. She’s already inspired instant sell outs, cover stories, and probably helped saved J.Crew’s 4th quarter. Along with her husband, Mrs. Obama has inspired the recent collections of several TOP designers, including the use of more models of color.  First Lady Michelle Obama will continue to have a major impact on fashion and what (and who is) considered fashionable.

2. Wal-mart will be the top store to watch as it will be the only store to successful address the challenges facing middle (and coastal) American families. This isn’t to say that other stores can’t do the same, Target could if they focused less on being “cool” and more on being “cool AND useful”, but right now Wal-Mart is the only major mass market store which does not have to make fundamental changes in order to accomplish this goal.

3. The Bon-Ton, Kmart, Sears, JC Penneys, and several sports apparel stores (Champs, Footlocker, etc) will all close or face bankruptcy. All of these stores, with the exception of K-Mart, depend on a mall environment to stay alive and the mall, as we know it, is dead. K-Mart has been dead for a while, so at this point we’re just waiting for the funeral.

4. Big Lots, Salvation Army, Value City, Costco, Sams Club will all be hot stores in 2009. Costco will be VERY hot in 2009 and shoppers will find creative ways to get the most out of their membership, including membership co-ops.

5. Moms will be king. The marketing focus of several top brands will shift from the youth market to hip moms as more businesses realize that moms are the ultimate influencers, affecting the style and consumer habits of their kids, husbands/partners, and friends.

6. Lipstick, at home hair coloring systems, and nail color will be the big beauty sellers in 2009. These are quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive ways for people to change their personal style.

7. The mall will die. Malls, as we know it, will be dead and most will turn into outlet mall like structures (ex: the Bergen Mall in Northern New Jersey)- featuring the outlets of top retail brands. Even Saks Fifth Avenue, who for years have maintained a rigid distinction between its high-end stores and its outlet stores by referring to the later as “Off Fifth- Saks Fifth Avenue Outlets”, changed the name of their outlets to the equally cumbersome Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth.

8. Gray, black, brown, red, and dark blue will continue to be the colors to watch as consumers look for easy to wear colors.

9. Easy to care for fabrics will reign supreme as shoppers look for items that are machine washable, thus saving a ton of money on dry cleaning.

10. More designers will skip their bridge lines and head directly for mass market/lower priced lines. Rumors have already started about budget lines by Donna Karan (Macys?).