As the rest of the fashion world debates runway direct-to-consumer sales strategies, Burberrys short-circuited the blah-blah and just did it. The ever-hot, spot-on London fashion house, famous for much more than their traditional trenchcoats, recently stood the industry on its ear by announcing seasonless collections. Starting this Fall, the latest ‘Burbs designs will be available online and in store to anyone watching.
Tom Ford, Thakoon, Panichgul, Proenza Schouler, among others are also tweaking their Fall show strategies for clients who follow fashion shows and want to buy more quickly.
“We should all start with the customer. We give her shearling coats in June when she’s just starting to think about shorts,” says Linda Fargo, savvy Bergdorf Goodman senior fashion exec. “We spend hundreds of thousands creating excitement and buzz, brand image with runway shows, allowing fast retail to copy the looks within weeks, while it takes five months to create and deliver the lines to stores, By then, the customer is tired because these looks have been in too many posts and images.”
Bergdorf’s “Right From the Runway” has Lady Gaga’s stylist Brandon Maxwell selling pre-orders for Fall in store, just two days after his February runway show in Manhattan. Prabel Gurung, Michael Kors, Alturzarra and other stellar names have also participated with Bergdorf’s.
The CDFA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) is promoting “see now, buy now” strategies to stimulate apparel sales and charm consumers into spending more money on clothes than on experiences (travel, restaurants, etc.). Advantages for designers and retailers include selling more full-priced merchandise, with reorders and better customer satisfaction. Consumers benefit with instant gratification and more direct contact with the brand.
CFDA Chair Diane von Furstenberg seems to believe, “The system is broken.” But both Presidents Ralph Toledano of the Federation Francaise dela Couture and Carlo Capasa of the Italian Fashion Chambre disagree. “The system is not broken,” says Toledano. “Business is excellent,” Capasa adds. “Small and medium-sized Italian brands can’t afford to produce collections right away and they may have difficulties selling without a show.”
Chanel’s designer Karl Lagerfeld asserts, “We have to follow change and the internet. But it’s not just about talking bs.” He is considering a special limited collection exclusively for the internet with very few items deliverable almost immediately.
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