Burberry has become the latest big name to change the way it does business in a big way. Sounds a bit dramatic? Well it is. The company is to introduce more ‘season-neutral’ product, combine its men’s and women’s shows in one London Fashion Week event,and make more all of the runway product available for instant purchase, backed up by ad campaigns that will be at the same time.
It’s even calling the collections February and September rather than SS and AW and recognising that the “want it now” instant gratification nature of the modern consumer really is the future.
In an interview with WWD, Burberry creative and business supremo Christopher Bailey said: “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.”
Industry sea change
I once worked for a (now-defunct, unfortunately) trends forecasting service and several years ago during our pre-launch brainstorm I said we should take exactly the same approach to our work. We did, even though at the time, it seemed unusual. But it also seemed so obvious that more and more major industry names would do the same and development after development has proved us right, despite some observers being mystified at the time!
Whether it’s Mango at the volume end doing monthly collections or Burberry (and a host of other luxury names) making instant product for customers who might be in Aspen one week and Barbados the next, the fashion world is becoming more season-neutral (or maybe we should cal it season-universal, or even season-irrelevant).
Burberry has become known as a brand that leads where others follow so it’s perhaps no surprise that it’s taken this step.
Bailey told the Business of Fashion: “In 2010, we did a live stream of the show. It was a meaningful decision to get closer to the customer and a broader audience, because we were doing these spectacles of shows, but it was feeling very insular.
“I remember saying, this show has historically been shown to essentially an industry audience of press, media, buyers and people that we collaborate with. We are opening it up to an audience who just do not, and should not, have to think about our industry’s ways and approaches and timings. You can’t force a different audience to understand something that is designed as an industry event.
“All the things we’ve been doing since then have been steps to get closer to an audience that loves fashion, loves the energy of fashion, the music, the spectacle, the people. It just feels like a natural next step.”
Dealing with change
He also said it’s not as radical a step in terms of the design process as it sounds but it does have major implications for the supply chain. It also means buyers for its wholesale customers doing what they do at different times… although Bailey also said that it offers the opportunity to do more ‘specials’ for wholesale with exclusives and special packages.
Will more brands follow suit? It’s likely. We already have weird ‘seasonal’ situations from Prada showing pre-season women’s alongside main season men’s, to brands still releasing pre-season cookbooks just a week before the main season starts again. The future starts here. Watch this space…
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