When Burberry revealed a strategy shift in September 2016 to showcase a collection at London Fashion Week that customers could instantly shop, it’s safe to say the fashion world was dubious.
After all, this new ‘see now, buy now’ model was a huge gamble. For decades, Fashion Weeks globally had unveiled collections that weren’t available to buy for months to come (so print journalists and buyers would be able to plan their issues well in advance) and going against the grain by dropping the traditional fashion calendar was always going to be a risk.
But if anyone could make it work, it was Burberry. While long-standing and very traditional in some respects, the British fashion house is known for being innovative – and in an age where we shop from our phones and crave immediacy, innovation pays off.
“The changes we are making will allow us to build a closer connection between the experience that we create with our runway shows and the moment when people can physically explore the collections for themselves,” Christopher Bailey, the brand’s chief creative and chief executive officer, said at the time.
“Our shows have been evolving to close this gap for some time. From live streams, to ordering straight from the runway to live social media campaigns, this is the latest step in a creative process that will continue to evolve.”
In the six months ending 31 March 2017, the brand reported a 19 per cent boost in retail revenue. And it wasn’t just an increase in sales that the brand saw.
An earnings report showed the label’s February 2017 show generated “record online reach and engagement” and foot traffic to Makers House – a central London show space exhibiting Burberry’s brand new collection that anyone could visit, free of charge – grew by 50 per cent compared to September 2016.
Even before Burberry’s success was made public, a number of other big name labels adopted the seasonless, and immediate, model.
“The current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to customers is an antiquated idea, and one that no longer makes sense,” Tom Ford said in February 2016, before announcing that in September he would join Burberry with fresh-from-the-catwalk collections available in-store.
Ralph Lauren followed suit, as did Tommy Hilfiger. The latter ensured he made a big splash with his new model, unveiling ‘Tommyland’, a fair with a Ferris wheel, pop-up tattoo parlor and lobster rolls, at South Street Seaport in the US. As soon as the show closed, the items shown on the catwalk were available to shop in 280 stores, in 70 countries.
“I founded my brand to be accessible and inclusive, and I’ve always considered the consumer to be the most important aspect of our business,” Tommy Hilfiger told Yahoo Style UK. “In the past 30 years, we’ve paved the way in fusing fashion and entertainment. This philosophy has always been a part of my dream to connect our global consumers to inspiring, unexpected fashion experiences.
“We’ve been building towards this for a long time, and the natural progression of this approach to democratising the runway is to make the full excitement and energy of fashion week directly accessible to our consumers in a globally impactful way.”
A post shared by Tommy Hilfiger (@tommyhilfiger) on Feb 10, 2017 at 12:12pm PST
Did it pay off for the American label? It looks like it. The brand’s chief brand officer reported traffic to tommy.com increased by a whopping 900 per cent in the first 48 hours after the show and 16 styles were sold out on the US site online within 24 hours.
Clearly, some of the lesser-known, and emerging fashion designers, are inspired. The June 2017 London Fashion Week Men’s schedule boasts three ‘see now, buy now’ show formats from St James’ Show, John Smedley and Bobby Abley.
So, how will the September 2017 London Fashion Week look? Watch this space…
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