Thanks to social media, consumers are more engaged than ever and have access to information almost at the same level as an industry insider. Senior merchants at retailers and brands have a very difficult time presenting consumers with a point of view because they already have it. They want what they see on the runway and they want it now, not months down the road. However, will this see-now buy-now trend have a definitive impact on how we consume fashion?
instantaneous fashion-market demand
Many brands, vainly, tried to appropriate this movement. However, there are many opportunities since brands like Burberry or Tommy Hilfiger did it. Indeed, several brands have had success after the sale of their collections directly after a runway, like Topshop and Rebecca Minkoff who achieved its best sales in just half a day after the release of its new collection. Mulberry is one of the last brands who chose to follow the trend, by not respecting the usual six-month period to deliver its collection for sale. However, although some brands have not seen their sales increase by lending themselves to see now, buy now, they have seen a rise in consumer commitment. “I think a review of the calendars is somehow desirable: the times, not just the digital revolution, require it. “, Says Giorgio Armani. The real question remains how will this affect fashion calendars as we know them today?
LUXURY BRANDS SLOW TO SEE-NOW-BUY-NOW
This comes from the desire of the consumer to immediately wear new trends, this new generation of very tech-savvy consumers and influenced by the impact of social networks like Instagram. Fast fashion brands, such as Forever 21, H & M, Inditex, and Primark, were already producing replicas of fresh-off-the-runway items and selling them in stores in a matter of weeks. With a see-now-buy-now sales model, luxury fashion companies could also take advantage of the media coverage surrounding Fashion Week events in New York, London, Milan and Paris and transform the buzz into full-fledged sales campaigns. However, this phenomenon has a long way to go before entering the fashion calendar, even as brands take other steps to modernize, with more frequent collections. Skeptics wonder if this phenomenon could work for higher-end apparel, to preserve and keep growing their prestige, luxury brands must find an alternative: “For this revolution to be effective and permanent, it will be necessary to intervene at each stage of development to create an operational mechanism, not a simple and yet another communication operation. ” says Giorgio Armani.
Shorten the fashion cycle: Look Forward point of view
A handful of designers, including Tom Ford, have since reversed course, citing the misalignment between the timing of Fashion Week and store-shipping schedules. Still, more than 15 leading fashion companies are continuing to experiment with “see-now-buy-now”. Is it a feasible model for the long term? Our answer is yes, so long as companies are willing to embark on a dramatic transformation of their process and mind-sets. Shortening the fashion cycle isn’t a quick-fix task.
Broadly speaking, the fashion cycle consists of three phases: planning, design, and product development; sell-in; and production and delivery. The length of each phase varies widely by company. A phase can be as short as 12 weeks or as long as 30. The planning, design, and development phase is typically the longest and has the widest variability among companies (exhibit). Therefore, that’s where the greatest potential for compressing the calendar lies.
The length of the end-to-end fashion cycle depends on a number of factors, including the company’s business model and retailer requirements for the assortment. Players like H & M, Zara and Forever 21 can make decisions faster and skip the sell-in phase because they operate their own stores.
Traditional fashion companies must be willing to not just make cosmetic changes to their calendars, but also thoroughly examine each of their activities and processes. They must also be willing to effect a change in mindsets across the organization. In doing so, they could give the fast-fashion companies a run, maybe even a sprint for their money.