Despite mixed reviews for fashion videos, Anne Klein II is making a videocassette of its fall runway show available to the public.
"The video fits in for the customer who really is interested in the total concept of Anne Klein II," said Jennifer Huggard, southeast regional director. "She can circle the looks she likes and have the sales associate locate them for her. It's almost like a shop at home, although we aren't into mail-order (sales)."The 20-minute video features comments from designer Louis Dell'Olio, footage from the fall runway show and a soundtrack by Ella Fitzgerald. It sells for $15.99. A written guide describing each piece and its style number accompanies the video.
The release of the Anne Klein II video tracks a trend among women in households with annual incomes over $75,000.
Debra Davenport, director of retail sales for Impact Resources, a national consumer information company, said women in this group are the most likely to be receptive to a video catalog like the Anne Klein II product, whether they see the video at home or in a department store.
Generally speaking, women in these households range in age from 35 to 54, hold college degrees and contribute significantly to the family income.
They also are favorably oriented toward technology, being more likely to use automatic tellers, watch cable television, own a VCR and rent movies and tapes.
"Remember this is a time-stressed female. The issues are all in place for (video marketing) to work for the retailer," Davenport said.
"The ball's now back in the retailer or the manufacturer's court," she said.
A video allows the consumer to see the line without having to arrive in time for a trunk show, or be pressured by a sales person to buy, Davenport said.
"All we're trying to do is give the customer an easier, more relaxed way to complete her shopping and develop her own personal style," Huggard said.
She said the video reaches customers because it allows them to see the garments on real bodies, not just hangers or mannequins.
"Sometimes when you see things on a person, it says to you, `This is what I want to look like,' more than when you see it on a hanger."
Norma Kamali, whose retro-inspired designs are distributed through Bloomingdale's, pioneered the fashion video in 1984.
A few seasons later, she offered customers a free video catalog as an experiment.
Unlike many fashion videos, Kamali's have a story line as well as a preview of the collection.
She continues to make a video every season and offers them to customers on a rental basis. A spokesman said the company considers the video more a service than a selling tool.
But Victor Harwood, producer of the first - and only - Fashion Video Awards in 1986, believes the concept has fizzled. Harwood produces trade and industry shows and special events in New York.
"Fashion video had a brief moment of notoriety for about six months, but it just didn't catch on. They didn't have the appeal of music videos," Harwood said.
The 1987 awards were scrubbed because there weren't enough fashion videos produced that year, Harwood said.
"The (apparel) manufacturers couldn't make the same leap of faith that video was selling product the way the music industry recognized what it was doing for records."
In 1986, Women's Wear Daily reported retailers' complaints that while videos did pull shoppers into the departments, they simply watched the tape without trying on any of the clothes featured in it. And salespeople, driven mad by the repetition of the soundtracks, turned the videos off.
Tom Kelly, general manager of the Polo Ralph Lauren store in Memphis, said customers respond favorably to the videos of Lauren's runway shows played in the store.
"Other than seeing the actual product on the floor," he said, "the tape sells things as well as anything, by far," Kelly said.