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Talk: How I feel about the proposed ‘See Now, Buy Now’ structure

Article/Source of Discussion (but not limited to):*

How will ‘See Now, Buy Now’ fashion shows affect beauty brands? – Fashionista

Karl Lagerfeld on the State of Fashion: ‘It’s a Mess’ – BoF

Burberry announces a See Now/Buy Now system for new collections – NY Times

Gucci rejects See Now Buy Now fashion calendar – Vogue

The Current State of Fashion – See Now, Buy When? – The Fashion Law

*There are many, many more articles surrounding this debate as of now.


 

Where many Creative Directors have been coming and going in the past year, the possible new proposal of a See-Now, Buy-Now operation has certainly rattled the Fashion Industry more than ever. This is a new type of visionary that isn’t just affecting one brand but effectively, all of the luxury market even if only a few have agreed to it. Notably, Burberry and Tom Ford have taken to the idea and already confirmed that they’d adhere to the calendar starting from next season. But as the question goes: how will it even work? It’s a huge risk that will depend on a numbers game to be viable. And if successful, it may already be a problem in itself.

There was one film that I watched a few months ago – The Intern starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway that I thought was so relevant to the current situation of instantaneous gratification and the dangers of it. There is a cloudy memory of one particular part with Jules, Anne’s character, and her business colleague/confidant Cameron that thankfully, I had recovered and goes something like this:

C: And look, I get it. There’s only so many hours in a day. We’re all playing catch-up. Our tech guys work till 2, 3 in the morning. Customer service is slammed. We’re running out of inventory. We’ve got shipping issues, and programming problems, and the bigger we get, the more complicated it’s gonna get.

J: But isn’t this what a startup is? What? Say it, what is everyone so worried about?

C: That it’s all going too fast, and it could get away from us. Our investors just think that a seasoned CEO could take some things off your plate.

In today’s digital age, we are obsessed more than ever to upload content quicker, in shorter intervals. We purchase items online that come within days, which is an even bigger accomplishment if from overseas. With a simple ‘buy now’ button, we can sit back and relax, but the real story lies in the behind-the-scenes. Whilst most items (‘fast’ items, fast fashion) that have already been stocked, thus available can be dispatched in say, two days, it is highly impossible to ask for the same in luxury fashion. To purchase even just one item is some sort of commitment to the brand, to the craftsmanship and the creativity – but to think of spinning that wheel faster and harder is beyond insane to me.

Many fashion insiders see the industry as a mess and this new concept has been one suggested to help tackle that. But it just doesn’t make any sense to me. There are, undoubtedly time lapses, from traditionally seeing the show to five months later, actually seeing the same clothes in stores, that are finally ‘in-season’ and above all, available to purchase. With the likes of Instagram and live shows, it goes without saying that the production line suddenly feels longer – ‘wait, so I have to wait five months for something I’ve just seen?’, but that’s exactly the distinction it has from fast fashion despite inevitable fast copies. It hones in on desire, the dream of what a woman or man would, could or should wear. And such desire comes such hard work to put a whole show together, to put fabric stitched together, model casting, garment fitting, last minute sewing. Those five months of waiting are worth that much even if Instagram portray otherwise. Besides, such luxury fashion should not just last seasonally, as just a trend but something close to a lifetime.

Want to know something else?

Those who can afford the goods will buy the goods. Of course, it is a matter of which goods, which brands and consequently, this starts a ‘battle of the brands’ meaning newer, smaller brands lose out in aforementioned concept.  Admittedly, we are living in some exciting times to be able to view a fashion show via a phone, via Instagram. As a consumer, this is something to look forward to every season, but am I really the consumer? No. At best, I have purchased a Prada purse and have owned a pair of Chanel sunglasses (now lost sadly), so accessories and bags are the type of items I feel can be sold ‘off the catwalk’ and do well, without losing out on creativity or numbers. The garments though, are really a whole other story, that requires customer fitting for example, something that cannot just be purchased for the heck of it.

For the Fashion Industry to somewhat feel a pressured threat from Instagram and live streams appears bizarre to me. Me as a ‘consumer’, I get to live in the moment, but really I cannot afford any of the clothes. The real consumers will be watching the show there and then, will have some relationship with a designer or another, or have their own personal stylist – really, the options are wide. To not be able to purchase the clothes strictly off-the-catwalk shouldn’t be seen as a disappointment to the consumer. Desire, if worked well, works to its ultimate advantage within Fashion and can be something still belonging to the brand and customer.

Can we also appreciate these fashion shows as a piece of art? To execute such artistry and harness top creativity requires time. As much as possible. Time is probably Fashion’s best friend and worse enemy, so really, imagine the nightmare to fast-forward a season. Where goes the thought? The one danger I see See Now-Buy Now is if luxury fashion all becomes too commercialised and like fast-fashion, start to re-invent the type of items that do sell, and sell well, rather than introducing conceptual themes and/or harvest a creative, wacky mind that actually, can be wearable and can be accepted in the world.

If creativity loses out to time, it is questionable as to what luxury fashion will become without either components (or lack of).

 

 

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