Since everyone in the UK wears clothes the retail clothing industry is a huge one, with sales of £28.25 billion in 2011. Although many high-street clothing retailers have struggled during the recent hard times, online shopping has been growing in popularity, with one online retailer reporting a 49% increase in sales during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. This growing popularity of online shopping for fashionable and even vintage clothing has mirrored that of other products, being driven by such competitive advantages as lower prices, greater choice, and no expensive, time-consuming travelling from store to store.
Online shopping for clothes has been much more popular with women than men. Almost half of the UK’s women have utilised it, but only a bit more than a quarter of the men have. This could be due to a traditional male preference for wanting to try things on before buying and a reluctance to endure the time and hassle of returning clothes purchased online. The internet has indeed seemed to be an unlikely means for acquiring bespoke tailoring.
Addressing the Problem
At least one firm, however, has embarked on a proactive strategy involving personalised service to address this reluctance of fashionable males to shop online. The service enables customers to provide the firm with profiles that include their sizes and their style, colour, designer, and other preferences. The firm’s stylists then prepare individualised lines for each customer and have them delivered to them. Customers can examine and try on each item at home, pay for what they want to keep, and have the firm collect the rest at an agreed time for no charge. If this service proves popular the firm plans to offer it to women as well.
Doing Things Right
Concern over the conditions in which clothing is manufactured in the developing world has led several online clothing retailers to develop corporate social responsibility policies. These pledge them to sell only apparel produced ethically in decent conditions. Some have become members of the Ethical Trade Initiative and pledge to follow its code. If this is important to you check your retailers’ websites for information about it.
Picture: Melissa Schalke – Fotolia