Sellers of Experience. The New Face of Fashion Retail

21 09 2011

Update (May 2013): the full article is finally out in “From Production to Consumption: The Cultural Industry of Fashion“, edited by Marco Pedroni, Interdisciplinary Press, Oxford, 2013. The one published below is just a speech and, as such, it contains a provisional and simplified version of my thought about fashion retail that can’t be quoted as a scientific work.


Back to Oxford once again, this year – at the 3rd Global Conference on Fashion organized by – I’m going to present a paper by the name of “Sellers of Experience. The New Face of Fashion Retail”. On Saturday 24th September, to be exact.

This study was performed to analyze the evolution of fashion retail, showing how the category of ‘experience’ affects the distribution channels in the field of fashion. So, I am going to open a window on terms such as ‘factory outlet centres’, ‘concept stores’, ‘pop-up retail’ and so on. My aim is to underline that these categories are not just a matter that concerns marketers and retailers, but a phenomenon that allows us to read the evolution of the consumers’ mentality.

The draft paper has been already published on the website and it is rich of examples I probably won’t be able to comment now – not all, at least. All these examples come from an activity of observation and documentation carried out with my students of the Master course in Fashion & Design Retail, inside the Milano Fashion Institute. Italy was of course the main field of observation, but also other European countries have provided examples and case studies. I would like, in the next few months, to expand my research considering also non-Western countries.

Let’s start with a statement that many scholars agree with: What is fashion? Fashion is something about changing and creating. Both actions concern the production or renovation of products, but also new ways to sell them. In recent times, the categories of periodicity and obsolescence have spread from fashion production to fashion distribution, turning the retail spaces into something that requires a continuous rethinking in order to fulfill the desires of the consumers.

Fashion retail is nowadays not just a mechanism through which the clothes reach the consumers, but a key tool for creating the brand image. This need has been translated into a wide range of distribution options.

How can we categorize and summarize these retail options?

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How to start to be a coolhunter

2 12 2010

Coolhunting is not a job, but a professional practice. This is to say that, with some exception, it is difficult to live and get money by doing this activity only. I tried to explain why in my book “Coolhunting” and in many articles.
But today I want to answer the question “How to start to be a coolhunter?” by publishing a message received from Betty Borghi, a student who has shown a great perceptivity about reading new trends. Her reports have been recently published on Science of the Time‘s Top 25.

So… Betty, the post is yours!


How to start to be a coolhunter

By Betty Borghi

Betty Borghi

During my work experience as a marketer, I met a few fashion trend setters, stylists and sometimes I followed some blogs. But I’ve never heard before the coolhunting term.
My approach to the cool hunting activity happened only recently thanks to Professor Marco Pedroni.
He  gave me an interesting article on this discipline, followed by a lesson with him and an expert of this discipline Mr. Carl Rohde.
The introductory article deals with how the young people are more sensitive to innovation and how some companies tries to adapt the product offer to their taste in order to be successful.
Innovation is nowadays becoming more important in the marketing driven and profitable companies to place successful products, distinguished by meaningful brands.

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Italia vs. Banana Republic 3-1

13 10 2010

Three out of four pieces of news concern Italy. Which ones?

  1. In the World Economic Forum’ Gender Gap ranking, measuring the gender divide in terms of chances, the country is the no. 74 on a list of 134 states.
  2. A anchor working in the state television – undusputably antigovernment (the anchor, not the television) – have been suspended for 10 days for having said “go fly a kite!” to his director – indisputably governmental.
  3. Government supporters have tried to impede the entry of the minority party members into the parliament.
  4. Treasury contradicts the Ministry of Education: there is no money for the reform of university and the regularization of temporary teachers.

From fashion forecasting to coolhunting… in Oxford

20 09 2010

On the 25th of September I’ll join as a speaker the 2nd Global Conference on Fashion, held in Oxford in the second half of this week. My speech will be focused on the shift from fashion forecasting to coolhunting and it has been published here.

This is, more or less, what I’m going to say…

When I have read the word coolhunting for the first time, some years ago, I was immediately attracted by the idea of a job that consists in looking for cool ideas and cool people all around the world. But, as sociologist, I was totally unsatisfied with the stereotyped accounts of the coolhunter that you could find in newspapers and magazines.

On the one hand, journalists and essayists have often described coolhunting as the work of a young man, or woman, travelling the world with a digital camera, searching for cool images to send to a company or research agency. A marvellous job based on curiosity and intuition, carried out in the most fashionable cities of the planet.

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Symbolic violence against women

28 08 2010

Violence against woman in Italy is a topic that I discussed many times in this blog (for example here). This is a gloomy update. In the first picture, you’ll see an elegant ad (having been recalled) promoting solar panels.

Here, a fashion ad with vegetarian inspiration (interested in the creative idea? click here).

Right, we don’t have to be too serious: but why the male representation comes off better than the female one?

From photovoltaic to fashion, trivial ads are presented as being ironic. But also irony is a weapon with a hangman and a victim. Subtle consequence of the symbolic violence: maybe the victim doesn’t laugh as the hangman would expect.

MU by Peugeot [Top coolest July 2010]

19 08 2010

Marco Pedroni’s report about  MU by Peugeot has just been rated #1 in the Science of the Time Top 15 Coolest (edition July 2010).

Wednesday 18 August 2010 15:15

Contributed by Marco Pedroni (Milan, Italy)

What it Is:

Mu by Peugeot’ is a car rental service. You can buy ‘mobility points’ and spend them to rent a vehicle, a scooter, a bicycle or an accessory (snow chains, baby car seat, GPS navigator, a car DVD reader and so on). The first step is to create a Mu account on the website The Italian site is just one of the many points of entry. Currently they are also available in France, Germany and Spain and are currently expanding to Belgium, Holland, Britain, Austria, Switzerland and Portugal. With a Mu account Mu points can be bought and are usable to enjoy all the available rental services – cars, scooters and bicycles on offer in the ‘Mu by Peugeot’ dealerships. Read the rest of this entry »

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