Unless you’re making clothing, fashion is a feature, not the essence.
— Bob Lefsetz

This quote comes from a post by Bob Lefsetz that I stumbled upon via a post by Fred Wilson. Both posts were commenting on technology companies - Apple in specific. But this rang true for me as well after seeing attending a new product introduction presentation at a Kitchenware/Houseware trade show in Atlanta last week.

The new product line was being introduced by Kate Spade New York - and it was quite disappointing. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong with the product line until I read this quote this morning.

As the presentation pointed out, the new line will be targeted at Millennials. Good - I am interested in that target demographic. But it was a hollow presentation for the following reasons:

First: The only things that were highlighted were fashion-related. Colors and patterns mostly. For example, there was no discussion of the construction of the cookware - or how it improves the cooking experience over the hundreds of other cookware options already in the marketplace. "We have polka dots" was about all they could point to. And there was no mention of who was manufacturing the products which would give one confidence. Nothing like "We have partnered with Dansk" or "We have partnered with Calphalon". Just "Isn't this a lovely Blue."

Second: There is no product availability until December. When I quizzed the presenter on what "December" meant - was it early December so we could capture the holiday buying season, or was it late December, which really means January. She replied it was "third week in December". OMG! Who introduces a new product at the end of December?! January-February-March are the slowest months of the year for retail. Why in the world would I bring in a new line in January? Even if I was excited about it.

When I read the line from Bob Lefsetz it crystalized for me where my discomfort was with this product line. Now, it may be that the Kate Spade brand has enough strength with a certain loyal buyer to gain some traction it feels hollow at this juncture. It may work in NYC, but I have my doubts about North Carolina (where my store is located).

I could be wrong on this line. It wouldn't be the first time. But I will wait until April to check in on it again.