MODES FOR THE MILLION How the Retail Buyer interprets exclusiveness for limited incomes THE BUYER'S JOB WHAT ARE THE PUBLIC BUYING FEMININE SUITS ARE THIS SEASON'S BIG FEATURE LINENS TO THE FORE THE grands couturiers of Paris, London and New York design exclusive gowns for the very rich. But though their clientèle is extremely limited in comparison with the whole female population of Europe and America, yet the influence which it exerts upon the world of fashion is out of all proportion to its size. The women who can afford to wear these gowns are the leaders who set the pace, and where they choose to lead the rest of the world will follow. To set a new fashion is the height of their ambition, so that noveltyanything, no matter what, as long as it is different from last season rather than any absolute beauty is liable to determine their preference. Each season the great designers come forward with a crowd of new ideas, and it is left to the experience of the retail buyer to sort them out into the order of popularity which he considers his customers are likely to adopt. For although it is the ambition of every woman who takes pride in her dress to follow as closely upon the heels of the leaders as her income will allow, yet the fact that her income is limited forces her to consider the practicality of any new fashion as well as its novelty. Dresses with highly exaggerated lines, for example, seldom become widely popular, nor do those materials which are easily creased. The retail buyer, like his customers, cannot afford to follow all the passing fashions indiscriminately. Having discovered the salient points common to all the gowns designed by the leading couturiers for the new season, he demands of the wholesaler copies (modified ever so slightly in order to overcome the restrictions of copyright) of those originals which, while incorporating the new points, are yet not so extreme in cut as to date" badly. These copies will be carried out in less costly materials (usually of Swiss or German manufacture) than the originals, so that they may be sold by the retail store at a price which even the woman with only a small dress allowance can afford to pay. In the preceding pages of this number we have illustrated some of the latest creations by leading designers from the three great fashion centres of the world. These provide the salient points to be found in this season's wear, from which the retail buyers have taken their pick. The next question is how are the public responding What are these women customers buying to wear this season In order to obtain the latest news from one of the busiest centres we enquired of Selfridge's which of the current fashions had most successfully caught the public fancy. Miss Helen Meagher, the fashion adver tiser, indicated some items which had already proved their popularity and others which she anticipates will catch the public fancy in the months to come. The outstanding feature this season is the vogue for suits. The design of these, however, has been very strongly influenced by the femi nine urge which has lately become so pronounced in every item of women's dress. The man- tailored style still remains a firm favourite, but its leading position is being challenged this season by the more feminine line given by the short jacket with fitted waistline and softening, dressmaker detail. A new material which is proving very popular for suits is knitted linen, a non-crease material with an appearance similar to knitted wool. All kinds of linen, however, are selling extremely well this year. Owing to the ease with which they can be washed, their smart appearance, and the bright, clear colours in which they are obtainable, linen dresses have always been popular for summer wear, and now that a non-creasable variety has been perfected their only practical disadvantage has been eliminated. Other materials being successfully used for suits this year are cloqué, taffeta, and printed crepe. 17

Commercial Art / Art and Industry en | 1935 | | page 287