French Resist Fashion Advice, Survey Finds

Almost half of respondents said they look to ordinary people for style cues.

PARIS — It appears French women don’t take advice — when it comes to their clothes shopping, that is.

That was the main conclusion of a survey conducted by market research firm Ifop for the French Federation of Women’s Ready-to-Wear. It found the majority of French fashion shoppers dress for themselves, know what suits them and shirk advice — whether from world-famous couturiers or shop assistants.

Titled “French Women and Fashion Today,” the report questioned 1,003 women aged 15 to 65 between May 5 and 13.

Half of French women shop less than once a month, with three in 10 only hitting stores every two to three months, the report found. With an average monthly budget for clothing and accessories of 63 euros, or $85 at current exchange, only one in five admitted to making impulse purchases at least once a month.

Asked what inspired their choice of outfit, 48 percent said they looked to ordinary people and 43 percent said they relied on rtw clothing and accessories brands. A fifth were influenced by the Internet and 16 percent by television and magazines.

Lagging in joint fifth position were celebrities, designers and luxury brands, which mattered to only one in 10 respondents, on average.

“This is the first surprise — fashion is inspired first and foremost by everyday life, and less by those that make it, or are supposed to make it: Designers, couturiers and brands,” said François-Marie Grau, general secretary of the French Women’s Ready-to-Wear Federation.

Asked who creates fashion today, 45 percent of respondents credited celebrities and only 30 percent believed designers set the tone.

Similarly, the survey found that most French women are oblivious to trends.

For 51 percent of respondents, being fashionable meant being yourself. Only 34 percent equated it with following seasonal swings. Similarly, 50 percent said fashion looked to the past and 26 percent deemed collections repetitive, with only 15 percent viewing fashion as innovative and 8 percent saying it reflected our times.

Accordingly, 75 percent said they trusted themselves to make the right clothing choices, with just 21 percent looking to partners, friends and colleagues for tips. Only 4 percent said they would trust a sales associate.

Daniel Wertel, president of the French Women’s Ready-to-Wear Federation, said that last statistic was “absolutely deplorable,” adding that the federation is planning to launch a fashion training shop by year-end to improve the performance of sales staff, mainly at retail but also on the wholesale front.

“Sales staff will receive training both in sales techniques and image advice, which I think is very important to create customer loyalty, so that we will finally stop seeing figures like this 4 percent, and so people stop saying that Paris is the city with the worst customer service,” Wertel added.