Retail brands are adopting the ‘see now, buy now’ model made popular by companies like Zara and H&M. This trend is providing limitations to the luxury, ready-to-wear fashion industry.
The seamless operational plans, in-house production capabilities and shear scale of some of the largest fashion retailers allow them to meet this immediate demand. Is this the future trend that up-and-coming or established luxury merchandisers have to follow?
Fashion immediacy definition: the concept of presenting a designer collection that can be purchased — and delivered — immediately after its runway debut.
"Fashion immediacy is a child of social media. Twitter and Instagram made it possible for consumers seeking instant gratification to demand merchandise they saw on runways even before large scale production began and months before it hit store shelves."
Let’s get one thing clear: fashion immediacy came out of the woodwork and was seen as a ‘quick fix’ due to the misalignment of media and retail. Fashion immediacy is a child of social media. Twitter and Instagram made it possible for consumers seeking instant gratification to demand merchandise they saw on runways even before large scale production began and months before it hit store shelves.
Many large scale clothing companies now only commit 15-25 percent of a season’s collection. This allows them to allocate capacity for in-season adjustments. This is to compare with other smaller-luxury manufacturers that commit six months in advance to designing 40-60 percent of their seasonal lines.
However, Zara and H&M don’t rent factory time, they own it. This ensures that they can allocate capacity for in-season adjustments when it comes to producing trends right as they are peaking. They also keep their batches small (economics 101 teaches us to keep demand high and supply low) so there’s not a ton of unsold inventory to move.
So what does this shift in market demand mean for luxury designers? Designers such as Corneliani, whose product yields its greatest value from the time put towards craftsmanship and quality materials.
It means that fashion conscious buyers should begin to re-think marketing channels and not give in to the hype.
With our planet exceeding seven billion people there is a customer that isn’t buying into the ‘see it now, buy it now trend’. They value attention to detail and the process it takes to perfect a garment that will tell their story.
Despite the initial hype of fashion immediacy, brands like Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford are ditching this model given the logistical nightmare it creates and the adverse effects it has towards the brand. In addition, clothing boutiques like the Helm take pride in knowing their product appeals to a customer that values a well made garment.
Fashion immediacy is for the bold retailers willing to invest and drive operational adaptability. Only time will tell whether this becomes an industry standard. In the meantime, luxury ready-to-wear designers can keep an eye on this trend while serving a loyal customer base that still finds beauty in the process.
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