With the recent announcement from Burberry that consumers will now be able to buy their pieces hot off the catwalk, we in the fashion industry are forced to ask ourselves whether this marks the end of forward selling.
Buyers are under ever more pressure as boutiques become increasingly reluctant to commit to large orders made months in advance. Unpredictable weather (we have, for example, just experienced one of the warmest winters on record) and consumers used to the same-day delivery offered by retail giants like ASOS and Amazon are major reasons for the flagging popularity of the system.
In recent years, Burberry as headed up by Christopher Bailey has established itself as a standard bearer for the fashion industry. Other brands are sure to follow its decision to scrap the four-month waiting period for collections to hit stores. The brand has also made the bold move of renaming its collections ‘February’ and ‘September’ as opposed to the conventional Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer. It would seem that the seasonality of fashion could also become a thing of the past.
These changes will undoubtedly prove difficult for small or fledgling brands under pressure to produce on-demand fashion. We work with 150 small to medium sized brands and already reports are coming in that agents and buyers are most keen to work with brands offering ‘Pronto Moda’ or ‘quick delivery’ collections.
While Burberry has most certainly shaken things up, there remain industry stalwarts reluctant to follow in its footsteps. Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering SA - the company that owns Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Saint Laurent Paris, among others - has stated that their brands will not be subject to similar changes. He believes that abandoning the period of anticipation between a fashion show and eventual purchase “negates the dream” of luxury.
It is our view that trade bodies need to step in to ensure that revamped schedules can work for everyone in the industry. Manufacturers, buyers, and consumers need to achieve a sense of synchronicity if up-and-coming brands are to stand a chance.