For many women, style is something that they are born with. For Paige Adams- Geller, style is in her jeans, as it were. The denim fit model turned founder of Paige Premium Denim says her fashion savvy definitely came naturally. “When I was in high school, people would tease me about my disposable wardrobe, since I rarely wore the same outfit twice. I used to mix and match, borrow from my parents’ closets, try and reinvent everything I had, and I was definitely considered one of the best dressed,” she recalls. “I use that same sense today in building my own line of clean jeans and knits.”

Cheryl Finnegan, a longtime consultant to Levi Strauss and now the founder of Virgins, Angels and Saints, a line of accessories, also admits to a sixth sense about fashion. “I have always been able to pick up on the undercurrents in fashion and to evolve with them to predict and interpret a trend,” she says, but quickly adds that does not make her a slave to trends. “If I think tha t my out f i t looks l ike something other women will be wearing, I’ll change. I am dressing to stand out.”

These denim consultants turned entrepreneurs would clearly be considered Fashion Innovators by the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™, explains Melissa Bastos, Manager, Market Research in Supply Chain Planning at Cotton Incorporated. “Fashion Innovators are consumers who have an instinct for style, like to shop for apparel and are more likely to pay full price at the beginning of the season to ensure that they are among the first to secure the latest styles.”

One of First to Try New Styles
  Total Innovators
Agree 27% 83%
Disagree 72% 14%

According to the Monitor, two out of three Fashion Innovators named clothing as their preferred item of choice when they shop, compared with one in two of total female respondents making the same claim. When asked if they are one of the first to try new styles, 83% of Fashion Innovators said they were, compared to 27% of total female respondents. When asked when they bought the latest styles, two out of three female Fashion Innovators stated at the beginning of the season; only three in ten female respondents in the general population claimed to do so.

This story first appeared in the December 10, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I love that type of woman,” enthuses Deborah Kirkland, Sales Manager for XCVI, a clothing line, about the Fashion Innovator. “Not only does she keep me in business, she keeps me motivated to be better and to personally continue evolving.” Evolution in style appears to come instinctively to Fashion Innovators. According to the Monitor, a considerable 62% of Innovators said their clothing purchases were made on impulse; 36% said their purchases were planned. 44% of average female respondents let their impulses rule; a larger 53% said their purchases were planned.

While many statistics about Fashion Innovators appear obvious, a careful parsing of the data from the Monitor reveals a few surprises. It is no surprise that the Fashion Innovator spent more on clothing each month and shopped more often; but she spent less money and time on average on each trip than her counterpart in the general population. Spending a total of $126.66 in the 3.47 times a month that she shopped for clothing, the typical Innovator spent $36.50 per trip; the average female respondent spent $82.59 over the 2.15 times she shopped in a typical month, thereby spending a slightly higher $38.41 per shopping trip. The female Innovator spent a total of 124.15 minutes shopping for clothes in the last month, averaging 35.78 on each jaunt; the average female respondent spent a lesser 105.69 total minutes, but averaged a much higher 49.16 minutes per trip.

Bastos, the researcher, offers an opinion. “One explanation may be that the Innovator shops often for clothing and relies on her instincts, so she is likely to just buy one garment on an average trip, knowing she will be back. The average female respondent is more likely to pick up a few garments, particularly when on sale, since she will not be in stores as often, thus explaining the near same amount spent on a typical shopping trip. As for average shopping time, the Innovator is highly practiced and familiar with her favorite retail territory; she shops efficiently.”

When it comes to the retail landscape, both groups shopped a variety of sources for their clothing, although there were preferences among the groups. Innovators were more likely to shop specialty stores and department stores and less likely to shop mass merchants and chain stores than average female respondents.

Common ground for these two groups is a penchant for denim. According to the Monitor, an overwhelming 87% of Fashion Innovators and 79% of average female respondents like or love denim. Not surprisingly, Innovators own a larger wardrobe of it, claiming an average 25.64 denim garments, compared to a still respectable 17.84 garments owned by women in the general population. Innovators may need more garments, since they wear denim jeans 4.7 days a week compared to the 4.18 days a week for the average female respondent.

With their basic instinct for style, Fashion Innovators are demonstrating a strong future for denim and women of every fashion proclivity would be wise to call upon their “jean-eology” and go long on denim to ensure their style savvy.

Basic Instinct

Fashion Innovators Trust Their Inner Style Voices

“Fashion Innovators are consumers who have an instinct for style, like to shop for apparel, and are more likely to pay full price at the beginning of the season to ensure that they are among the first to secure the latest styles.” – Melissa Bastos, Cotton Incorporated

This story is one in a series of articles based on findings from Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor™ tracking research. Appearing Thursdays in these pages, each story will focus on a specific topic as it relates to the American consumer and her attitudes and behavior regarding clothing, appearance, fashion, fiber selection and many other timely, relevant subjects.

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