I own a window-cleaning business. As such, I have retail (clothing) clients whose windows I clean on a regular basis. A few months ago, I was doing this very thing when I looked at the clothes on their racks and displays. I realized that in my 48 years, I had seen these same styles come and go 2 previous times. Now, here they were once again. Having a little experience in the retail fashion industry myself (my first 6 years out of college as an area sales manager in a department store), I understand a little about what happens.
There are styles that seem to always be there (men’s Levis for example). These are considered “Basics.” A retailer can count on them being sold, so it is simply a matter of having an appropriate quantity on hand.
Other styles last for a while then pass. You can look back on them and say, “That was so 2008.” If you look closely, though, you notice that the same style (maybe slightly different) was in vogue several times throughout recent history. In other words, they come and go and come back again. It is cyclical. You just have to understand the cycle.
Some styles are one-hit-wonders or simply bombs. I remember in about 1992 we sold these t-shirts that changed color with body heat. We got some small quantities in and sold them all quickly. The company could not fill orders for us quickly. Then, when we got large quantities in, the excitement was all over. We hardly sold any, and were left with most of them.
My point to all of this is that we need to understand the cycles of business and life in order to prosper. We tend to think that whatever situation we are currently in is permanent, when in fact it is most-likely transient. We must recognize this in order to take advantage of what is transpiring around us and to constantly improve. Are you being successful now? Don’t become complacent and count on it. Are you struggling? Don’t get so down, believing that things will never improve. Press on and look for new ways to succeed.
Try to avoid over-committing to “bombs.” Capitalize on basics. Make the most of trends and move on, being aware that they will probably come back around, slightly evolved, later.
Learn from the fashion world.