Last year, the Fall runways saw the first signs of the fashion industry getting behind a see now/buy now business model. Led by Burberry - for the first time designers began offering runway looks online and in stores for immediate purchase as opposed to making consumers wait 4 months before styles became available. Why the sudden shift to a 40 year old tradition?
Well, before the internet, the only way to see a show was with a ticket or the next day in trade papers. Today with Instagram, Snapchat, live streams and entire marketing teams dedicated to social media, the customer is seeing every detail of clothing at the same time editors and buyers are seeing them -- and that's six months before anything is available to buy. So by the time a collection hits the stores, it feels old and the fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara have already ripped it off.
There is a definite appetite for the immediacy and practicality of see now buy now. Today's new customer tends to be very social media savvy and are natural purchasers of pre-collections and fast fashion lines in general. Why would someone wait to pay more for something offered by a fashion house when they can buy almost the exact same thing for a fraction of the price right now?
Some, if not most of these fast fashion companies are so clever about intellectual property rules that they are able to “take inspiration from a designer’s collection” without technically breaking laws on design infringement. And they have strong motivation to continue this practice. With respect to sales growth, the affordable-luxury and value sectors have outperformed all other segments. This is consistent with their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past three years, which has been 9 percent for affordable luxury and 6 percent for value, the highest of any segment since 2013.
Many in the fashion world believe that allowing consumers to increasingly interact with the industry helps designers to understand what motivates the purchase, thereby creating a more intimate relationship and loyalty. Will the see-now buy-now hurt fast fashion? Unlikely, but it's interesting to see how the fashion world as a whole will continue to change and adapt as the way we receive information and make our buying decisions changes.