Although unemployment may be dropping, the apparel industry has been suffering through a rough period. A quick stroll through the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, PA, is an unfortunate window to a national problem facing the economy. I walked through the mall this past weekend and saw that New York & Company had closed its doors for good. It reminded me that apparel isn’t as sought after as it had been in the past. In fact, according to an article from tulsaworld.com, “…foot traffic at physical stores declined and U.S. consumers spend less of their income on apparel…” The apparel industry did not turn upside down overnight, as there are several factors that have led to this point.
The Popularity of Thrift Stores
During my time at university, my friends were more than happy to show off the garments they had purchased at thrift stores or received as hand-me-downs from relatives. Vintage fashion pieces were all the style, because we were all broke college students. In fact, according to an article from pymnts.com, “…one in three women are reporting that they shopped secondhand within the past year.” These statistics show a rise in popularity of thrift stores. People enjoy giving clothes a second life for a variety of reasons. It’s an economic decision that’s also great for the environment. With college debt looming like an anvil out of a “Looney Tunes” rerun, none of us had spare change for the newest pair of designer jeans. My friends and I were more than content with spending less on clothing, because every dollar counts when it comes to student debt.
2. Clothing Options Aren’t Appealing
Can someone explain how a cropped sweatshirt is supposed to keep a person warm? I’m not a fan of the recent trends of crop tops and shirts with nonsensical lettering. I don’t understand the hype surrounding ripped jeans, because I’d probably freeze while wearing them. I’m not a trendy shopper. Therefore, I purchase clothes that won’t go out of style. I’ve had the same sweaters and shirts since high school, and I’m almost in my mid-twenties. I don’t always buy new clothing because quite frankly, I don’t understand it. And don’t even get me started on cold-shoulder tops. Just wear a short-sleeve shirt. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but nowadays, it appears trendy clothes are cheaply made. I’d prefer to invest in clothes that will last. I don’t mind wearing the same clothes every year, because they’re comfortable and hold sentimental value.
3. Let’s be honest: sizes are confusing
I’m average size, and I own about four different sizes of jeans. Clothing sizes have always confused me. When it comes to buying pants, I’m a different size at each store.
And what’s more confusing is when the sizes vary depending on which wash of jean or depending on the style of jean. There are an abundance of fits and styles to choose from, ranging from high-waisted to low-rise, and then there’s also a distinction between skinny jeans and jeggings. I get a headache just by glancing at the wall of jeans at American Eagle. And then if I walk from American Eagle to the Gap, the entire process repeats itself.
4. The struggle of designing a wardrobe for work and leisure that’s also age-appropriate
The transition from college to a full-time career takes a toll on a person’s closet. It is difficult to find the perfect mix of work attire and clothes for weekend activities. I’ve had jobs where I wore a uniform, so my personal wardrobe was perfect for leisure events. I’ve also had jobs where I wore business casual clothing. At a recent job, the entire office wore jeans and sneakers, so ironically, I purchased a pair of sneakers for work.
As a Millennial, it can be daunting to find the perfect blend of work outfits that are age-appropriate, and at the same time, it can be tricky to find clothes that could transition from daytime to nighttime activities. In my own personal situation, I ended up buying less clothing than I thought I would. It was easier for me to make due with what I had because I had trouble finding pieces that were versatile enough to go from work to an evening event. I’ve shopped at the Loft and Banana Republic for business casual clothes, and while the clothes hold up, I always feel as though the attire isn’t most age-appropriate. At the same time, the professional clothes from the juniors’ department don’t always look right. It can be rough to find a look that is both young and professional.
Maybe this is why consumers have shied away from mall store apparel shopping or taken their attire purchases to Amazon. Until clothing stores offer more appealing selections, it looks like I’m visiting my sister’s closet for some spring clothes.