The new age of fashion may be one that knows no season and tolerates no wait time. And, this may be good news for both small designers and large houses.
In an article, entitled Buy-Now-Wear-Now A New Approach to Fashion, published recently in Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), the new approach to runway fashion was highlighted, in which some big names like Diane Von Furstenberg and Michael Kors have cast aside the six-month lead time that traditionally occurred between a fashion show and the availability of the end products. Instead, they are experimenting with making their designs immediately available and offering primary reviewing rights to an invited cast of social media mavens in place of the traditional fashion media.
Not everyone in the industry has welcomed this revolution-in-the-making, especially those who co-ordinate events in the big four fashion capitals, Paris, New York, London, and Milan. In fact, they resist any changes to a system that has worked so well for them for so long.
Some writers and industry experts worry that this switch to “instant fashion” would only benefit the well-established houses that have the budget to start producing those products that prove a hit on the runway while absorbing the costs of those that fail. Younger, smaller designers may suffer since they would not have the resources to support the immediate demand that would come from this “buy-now-wear-now” approach.
You can't help but think that this might be the words of today’s generals fighting yesterday’s war.
There was a time, when people gathered at convenient locations to share knowledge and trade their wares. For many centuries throughout Western history, European cities were the hub of business, and Paris, London, and Milan prospered accordingly. At that time, the only fast way to share ideas was to convene in a single room, so fashion hubs were essential. New York joined this group at the turn of the twentieth century when it embraced the exodus of tradespeople and business people seeking a new life in the New World.
This is the age of instantaneous global connectivity. Individuals in all parts of the world can communicate, shop, and build businesses that automatically span the globe by default, through a simple Internet connection. This raises two questions – can the big four fashion centers hold on to their power in the face of this changing global marketplace, and will the buy-now-wear-now approach kill small business the way some journalists predict?
The answer is “no” to both. As a parallel example, the music industry has shown remarkable survival skills in the digital era. It has morphed from long-haired album-based bands in the 1970's to big-haired video-based bands in the 1980s all the way through to today's sophisticated multi-media download-based artists. Yes, if today's musical performers all drew from a traditional playbook, moving to Nashville, L.A., London, or Berlin like their grandparents’ music heroes did, then many of them would fail. Instead, they did it their own way, they created their own market, and the customers appeared.
In fashion, the buy-now-wear-now concept is not unprecedented. As Christine Centenera, Fashion Director at Vogue Australia mentioned in a recent NowFashion.com interview, it is essentially a modern twist on seasonless design. Seasonless design is something that has been practiced for years in Australia’s fashion houses, precisely because their weather seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern hemisphere. Thus, they have dispensed with the long-lead fashion seasons dictated by the big four, and design clothing for all times of the year.
I think you will find that it is this seasonless approach, paired with the eternally inventive spirit of new entrepreneurs and designers that will re-write the rule book of fashion and will pull it into the fast-lane of real-time mobile ecommerce.
It comes down to a single phrase that I believe will dictate the actions and mindsets of fashion into the next decade…Once you see it, and you decide you want it, you will find a fast and convenient way to buy it.
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