Change is afoot. Designers, brands and retailers have been trying to figure a way to recalibrate Fashion Week in the age of digital media since before I arrived in New York to work in the industry five years ago, and brands are finally starting to put their money where their mouths are in hopes of alchemizing the press circus around fashion shows into real, tangible sales.
It wasn’t all that long ago that NYFW was still a true trade show; runway shows were for buyers and editors, and consumers had to be crafty to get information before brands intended their collections to be seen by the broader public. That system has completely broken down now, of course, and brand including Coach, Proenza Schouler and Burberry (and far beyond) have decided to experiment with making portions of their new collections available to consumers immediately upon runway debut. After all, why waste the buzz on clothes that won’t be available for six months?
At best, though, the move is a first step, and it seems to be a good way to test just how much actual shoppers are paying attention to fashion week, versus how much fashion journalist and industry watchers (who think of ourselves as real shoppers, but really aren’t) are assuming our experience and perception of Fashion Week is universal. Moda Operandi, for example, caters to an elite clientele who follows the shows and wants its orders as soon as the opportunity is available; it will be interesting to see if those super-engaged consumers exist at all price tiers in numbers large enough to make immediate orders a worthwhile venture.
That’s where we want to hear from you, of course. Have you ever jumped at the chance to order something straight off the runway, and if not, can you think of anything that would make you do it? Would you be more enticed by a piece available for immediate delivery, or are you satisfied with the opportunity to get first dibs on a limited-run product that will ship to you in a few months? Does any of this feel relevant to you as a shopper, or are you fine with things how you are?
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