Burberry moves into super-fast fashion territory, Tom Ford follows suit

The iconic luxury British brand is making big changes, it was announced today.

From September, look out for ‘seasonless’ product from the brand. So forget spring/summer and autumn/winter as Burberry moves to calling its collections just February and September.

That means the house will now just produce twice-yearly London Fashion Week shows combining men’s and women’s product. Twice-yearly pre-collections will also be integrated into the runway events.

But the biggest news is Burberry will make runway-to-store instantaneous, backed up by targeted ad campaigns and window displays. Now that is fast fashion.

Burberry creative and business head Christopher Bailey told WWD the move is all about the end consumer:

“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.”

Just hours after Burberry’s announcement, Tom Ford followed suit, putting out a statement saying that he was cancelling planned presentations at New York Fashion Week in two weeks’ time. He will instead return to the September schedule with both AW2016 men’s and women’s wear in one show.

Burberry’s Bailey also told the Business of Fashion: “All the things we’ve been doing since [2010] 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.”

While Bailey admitted there would also be a tricky shift in timing for wholesales buyers he also noted that it offers the opportunity to do boost what the brand can offer those customers from exclusives to special packages.

“We do not have the answers to everything today. It is certainly new behaviour for us, and it will mean that we want to build stronger collaborative partnerships with our wholesale partners because it absolutely is a different way of working.

“We will be doing things where we invite those partners to see the collection, and that will have to be embargoed. It will just mean a different way of working. But what I love about it is our partners can work with it, they can see it, we can create special packages for them, we can then start saying ‘OK, do we do a special event for your customers where they watch the show live, and then they can shop immediately.’ So then it starts to open up actually a whole new, really exciting world.”

Tom Ford, describing his reasons behind the move, told WWD: “Our customers today want a collection that is immediately available. Fashion shows and the traditional fashion calendar, as we know them, no longer work in the way that they once did.

“We spend an enormous amount of money and energy to stage an event that creates excitement too far in advance of when the collection is available to the consumer. Showing the collection as it arrives in stores will remedy this, and allow the excitement that is created by a show or event to drive sales and satisfy our customers’ increasing desire to have their clothes as they are ready to wear them.”

Chris Morton, CEO and co-founder of Lyst which links global shoppers to over 11,000 designers and stores, told WGSN: “Fashion houses have been talking about this issue for a while now; it’s unsurprising that a pioneer brand like Burberry is the first major house to make a move. Everyone else will now be keeping a close eye on how this works in practice.”

He also noted: “While February and September are important months in the fashion calendar for Fashion Week, commercially they are often low points. Celebrating fashion week as a consumer event with instant access to product has the potential to boost sales in these traditionally quiet months.”

Adam Kelly, buying director of London department store Fenwick Bond Street, also told WGSN the Burberry news was “very welcome…

“What a statement to make to the industry and consumer. Things definitely needed a shake and this will do that.

He added, however, that other houses “may be a little scared” by the move.

“We live in an instant time where we have created people demanding immediate access to things – clothes, accessories, beauty – news feeds etc. Now they can have it. The seasonal collections in the showroom will still be forward order but the collection on the runway that a million people will have viewed instant… Amazing.”

MORE: Burberry drags luxury brands into the era of shopper centric retail: what Lorna Hall WGSN’s Head of Market Intelligence makes of the move

STAY UP TO DATE: You want the need-to-know news, right? Our journalists deliver a daily curation of the most important industry happenings. Sound good? Join WGSN.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.