By Jill Sands
In the beginning . . . the economy led us to tag sales, consignment shops, closets, attics and basements out of necessity. Pardon the cliche, but isn't necessity the mother of invention? So, what did we discover in these "new shopping venues?" They are a new form of entertainment! Historically, women have been the gatherers; going out with hope of finding something of value. It's that gathering instinct in our DNA which has re-surfaced saying, "Hey, this is fun." Instead of food for sustenance, today's women are compiling their finds into fashion ensembles and home decor. Consumers are creating their own personal YOU-nique style. It can be fun, funky, whatever. Cautious consumers have moved from conspicuous consumption to conscious consumption; no longer able to afford changing fashion or decor on impulse. They are looking for value. How do you define value? Quality + price = value. To quote Warren Buffett, "Price is what you pay, Value is what you get." Retail is experiencing a value-shift, not a price-shift. Manufacturers will need to emphasize quality, durability and value. These will be the "it" words of 2010 and beyond. When we think of value we think about products with lasting qualities; products that pass the test-of-time. Vintage is a timeless word that cannot be defined within a period. It always fits in and is always welcome. Vintage allows mixing-and-matching, creating a personal, unique style that's fun. It can tell a story that's rich with history. The uptight decorated look is out. In is easy and comfortable. Old, new, funky! Isaac Mizrahi summed it up beautifully, "I'm all about exuberance. We have only one short life to live, and we shouldn't waste it on being tasteful." Vintage is a tag-sale find, a re-sale shop discovery, or the unearthing of a forgotten item in our own closets. The economic slowdown is forcing everyone to value what they have today and see it with new vision; with an emotional connection. Counterpoint will be an operative word. Old and new. Rustic meets refined. A blend of classic and contemporary. The clash of it all is very sexy for it defines the person, the individual. Through necessity we are learning to add balance to our lives, spending more time at home with family and friends. We are actually seeing what we have, what is important in our lives and what is excess. We are entertaining at home, cooking and baking from scratch, and rediscovering the importance of food, fun and life. We are reading more books, playing more board games and watching more movies at home. Plus spending more time on the computer. As we rediscover ourselves and the natural beauty of the world around us, the main trend to emerge will be Farmhouse Chic, Rural Chic or you may choose to call it "Grapes of Wrath" Chic. It celebrates the simple pleasures of life . . . natural and authentic while caring for the environment and each other. And, it feels very American. Jill Sands is publisher of The Trend Forecaster newsletter, an on-the-street in-depth view of design, color, economic, demographic, international, environmental and marketing trends.