"Insights from Fashion Marketing Chair and Forecasting Expert Wendy Bendoni on the Evolving Landscape of Fashion Consumption and Sustainability"
Wendy Bendoni is an accomplished marketing researcher, best-selling author, and academic leader. She is currently the Chair of the Marketing & Fashion Marketing department and an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the School of Business. With a career spanning over three decades, she has established herself as a leading expert in consumer and market research, specializing in cultural shifts discovered through the power of social data. Bendoni's expertise in predicting consumer trends has led her to work with major companies such as WGSN and Jefferies Global Investment Bank, and she has produced over 300 consumer reports for the industry. She is also a prolific writer, having authored the best-selling book "Digital Marketing and Strategy: An Integrated Approach to Online Marketing." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Story and Interview By: Carlos Chavez
7500 Magazine: Who is Wendy Bendoni?
Wendy: I’m a professor, Fashion Marketing chair, I have been at Woodbury for 12 years. I’ve been in fashion forecasting for 25 years, where my job was basically to look at how people shop, how they consumed, doing so in a qualitative manner and through observation, seeing what people did in California, and then through Europe, looking at the same exact thing.
Around 2009, Wendy also focused on bloggers, and how they shared what they consumed and ways that shifted the way fashion would be forecasted.
7500 Magazine: How would you compare the shopping habits of a ‘blogger’ to an ‘every day, normal’ person?
Wendy: Well I think that in the beginning, it was very much like citizen journalism. It was very much people just like you and I think we hit a mark where it turned into bloggers, which turned into influencers, which then it became more monetized and more of a business, almost like an external magazine. They weren’t just like you now, they were now wearing things that you wanted and aspired to wear. On the other side, I think, for me, the good part of social media is that it also opened this idea of being able to be different and that you could essentially be whatever you wanted to be and show how you did it.
“There was a point where thrifting and all of that was not cool. Etsy and blogging kind of changed that, where it made it seem like it was a good thing.”
7500 Magazine: Going off of that, how do you think platforms like Deopop, Poshmark, ThreadUp, and others have contributed to the idea of thrifting, second-hand, reselling, etc.?
Wendy: I think, I always say in Fashion Marketing, its really only a t-shirt unless you tell more about it. I think the idea behind thrifting and reselling is really just how its presented. I think compared to offline stores like Buffalo Exchange, completely changed the game because they made it more of an experience. They have great products and amazing buyers, really spending money to educate the buyers. To me Depop is like Buffalo Exchange, but online. I think Deopop really made it, like I said, they took the business model of Buffalo Exchange and Wasteland, and incorporated it onto the Depop platform.”
“The Gen-Z of today, definitely has different values, but they still want to be fashionable, the name is still important, what it means is still important."
7500 Magazine: How do you shop? Does sustainability matter to you?
Wendy: For me, for the most part, if its designer, its all resold because I see value in it. But then, I realized, one of the biggest disconnects of sustainable fashion with wether its organic cotton or the repurposing side of things, is two things that I require: A. that I am a plus size and B. that I do not dress for my age. It tends to be ‘look older and doesn’t include my size.’ I am very selective of how I spend my money, and when it comes to certain things from sustainable brands, I would purchase from them, but every time I find a brand that I really like, its missing those things.
7500 Magazine: Fast fashion is evil. I’d assume that you would agree. How do you avoid fast fashion at an individual level? What would you say are some problems with fast fashion? If you disagree, tell us why.
Wendy: One thing fast fashion has done is catch up on to size inclusivity. For me, traditional fast fashion is not my size, not a problem I save a lot of money, but with my daughters who are both 17-19, I’ve noticed they see how fast it deteriorates and they see that there is no longevity, and they’re starting to go back to the Levi’s they bought which lasted longer. So I think, they’re getting it.
“I think we need to step back and see what fast fashion brands can do and make them responsible for that. You can’t make them change their product pricing, but you can make them have the building be sustainable, more sustainable practices in general.”
7500 Magazine: To conclude, where do you see the future of second-hand, sustainable, ethical, etc. shopping going?Where do you hope it will go?
“I think the future of sustainable fashion, especially circular fashion is going to be building a better story and a better environment. And I definitely see this happening, but I don’t know exactly when. I see the opportunity and people are finally starting to see the younger generation take control and express their morals and values with the brands they choose to support.
Fast fashion has had significant effects on the fashion industry, particularly on shopping habits. Fast fashion has fueled a culture of disposable fashion, where consumers buy and dispose of clothing at a rapid pace. This has led to an increase in consumption and waste, as well as a decrease in the perceived value of clothing. Consumers are now more likely to buy cheap, trendy items, rather than investing in quality, timeless pieces. This has had a profound impact on the industry, with brands competing to produce more and more clothing at a faster pace, while sacrificing ethical and sustainable practices. As a result, consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental and social impact of their shopping habits and are shifting towards more sustainable and ethical options.