In the wake of the social media revolution, designers acknowledge that something isn’t right with the seasonal calendar. WGSN’s Sarah Owen reports.
It was only six months ago I was saying the fashion industry was becoming more and more seasonless and that the ecosystem in place hadn’t been revised for years – a point of contention I remember initiating from a CFDA panel I participated in over two years ago. Fast forward to today, and that conversation is finally evolving into action.
With Burberry’s recent announcement that they would be focusing on two annual consumer shows each year – recognising the disconnect between when collections are seen and when they are in-store – the British fashion house may have stolen the thunder from other designers who had revealed this radical decision weeks earlier. Case in point, Rebecca Minkoff who in December decided to challenge the rigid and antiquated design calendar and showcase her Spring collection in place of Fall. Known for their digital dominance, in a parallel albeit overshadowed world to the likes of Burberry, Rebecca and Uri Minkoff (designer and CEO, respectively) have successfully adjusted their timelines to meet the demands of their customers.
“I think the lynchpin was to hear the consumer sentiment about being sick of things over and over again,” says Rebecca Minkoff. “Seeing people bored out of their minds, looking at their phones, and not just at my show, but at all the shows. I had this overwhelming idea that if I’m sick of the clothes by the time they get to stores, I’m sure my customer is too. It was really just about focusing on how to shift this to make our consumers happy.”
While some industry figures are uncertain about whether the luxury market can shorten the traditional six-month lead time, Rebecca has found a way of cutting down production time by bringing the manufacturing back on U.S. soil. At the show yesterday in Skylight Clarkson Sq, a mix of repeat styles from her Spring 2016 line were revisited, along with a few newly created pieces (some of which were designed in December between Los Angeles and New York). “When we sent it down the runway the first time in September that was what we hoped they (buyers) would buy,” she says. “This is actually what they bought and then I added a capsule of about 17 pieces that we also sold just to make it feel fresh. It’s new hair, new makeup; it’s a very different looking show. It just happens to be Spring.”
With other brands such as Thakoon, Vetements, and Misha Nonoo all a part of this industry-wide revolution, the next step is troubleshooting how it disrupts the current supply chain and how fashion leaders transpose the seasonal scheduling. “Today, luckily, it doesn’t disrupt things too much because they’re still buying on the normal buying calendar and the media will still see it in press reviews,” says Rebecca. “So really it’s just going to be a surprise for the consumer.” A surprise she hopes will stimulate full-priced sales off the back of their #seebuywear social media strategy as well as challenging fast fashion giants who may struggle to keep up. “They (retailers) will have to get faster and wait until they see the goods in stores,” she says. “Then they will have 30 days to make it but hopefully we’ll still capture our customer first.”