The See Now, Buy Now model, which is challenging the established retail system, has become a dream for some and nightmare for others. It means consumers can purchase pieces from a collection the moment it hits the catwalk, when the hype is at its peak, instead of six months later when the buzz has worn off. This immediacy means increased sales, and it also means fast fashion retailers have less time to copy trending looks from the catwalk and steal some of the major fashion houses’ glory.
This, however, puts a strain on manufacturers and retailers, which have to adopt a new retail cycle and respond to real time orders. But my biggest worry is that this change, which has happened purely for commercial reasons, might affect the types of clothes being made. Overly commercial clothes could start dominating the catwalk, leaving little room for creativity.
If we look at the traditional and current fashion environment, the most powerful luxury couture brands create extravagant looks that over time end up trickling down to lower level retailers (remember Miranda Priestly’s scathing monologue in The Devil Wears Prada?). Luxury brands release their collections six months early so that trends can filter through the various levels of the industry: editors, buyers, mass brands and consumers. This helps to develop a multifaceted fashion industry. Nevertheless, even brands as traditional as Ralph Lauren and uber sexy Tom Ford are opting for See Now, Buy Now because in the social media era it has resulted in increased sales.
One of the biggest SS17 successes was #TommyXGigi, a collaboration between Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid that was able to access Hadid’s Instafan base of 22 million followers. Shows today often aim for a wider audience: for its SS16 New York show Givenchy allotted 820 seats to the public on a first come first served basis, and Chanel, Moschino and Givenchy have all done something similar.
More brands will start to open their shows to the public in the future, either physically or virtually. Their shows need media and public attention more than ever before as they strive for quick sales. Brands need the support of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and digital media to influence the public immediately.
As that happens, the brands that can influence public opinion fastest will prosper – time will be of the essence. Love it or hate it, the See Now, Buy Now Model is far from being just another fad: it’s the next evolution of retail.