LONDON — Anya Hindmarch is stepping off the catwalk treadmill and onto the shop floor with plans to stage events throughout the year rather than seasonal fashion shows.
The designer — whose elaborate London fashion spectacles have featured Broadway musical-style performances complete with dancing and singing handbags, lineups of male dancers and singers and models spinning in giant neon teacups — said she plans to replace her twice-a-year extravaganzas with a series of creative “happenings” four times a year.
The goal is to enable the consumer “to really engage with the brand’s creativity on and offline when the product is available in store,” and the brand is already working on a special project for February during London Fashion Week that will preview the new strategy.
The first official new format event will take place during London Fashion Week in September to showcase the fall 2018 collection in a see-now-buy-now format.
The company said a focused, direct-to-consumer approach has worked well so far with the launches of the Build-a-Bag collection in May, and the new home fragrance category, Anya Smells, in November.
All of the collections will still be shown by appointment to press and buyers in line with the usual buying cycles, the company said.
In an interview, Hindmarch admitted that she and her team had been talking for a while about switching to consumer-facing events. She, like many designers and brand owners, said the traditional fashion calendar “can be old-fashioned in some respects,” and the brand wanted to do “what’s right for the consumer.”
Earlier this week, Creatures of the Wind designers Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters decided to shift their business model to a project basis. Going forward, they will not produce full collections or do runway shows. The idea is to work with stores on capsule collections and specific projects.
Hindmarch said the launch in-store of the Anya Smells candles was a success, and that consumers want their products immediately and want to take part in the brand experience.
Hindmarch also said she sees the switch from industry shows to consumer events as an opportunity to be creative in a different way and let a wider group of people take part. “It’s a new toy for me to play with, and a way to amplify the brand’s creativity,” she said, adding that the new format already feels exciting and that the events “will be as mad as they’ve always been.”
Her last collection was based around a surreal suburban home, with models wearing Fifties housecoat-like coats and fuzzy slippers and carrying bags that looked like leather poufs or shag carpets.
The happenings are to coincide with product launches on the shop floor and the designer plans to plot each event on a case-by-case basis. “There will be some on a big scale, others more intimate, some in London, others maybe outside London,” she said.
It’s been a big year of growth and change: In March, Francesco Giannaccari took over as the chief executive officer of Anya Hindmarch. He was most recently general manager of Etro, a role he held for nine months in 2014 and 2015. His previous roles included vice president of Tom Ford and president of international operations at Abercrombie & Fitch. He has also held key roles at Gucci and Bottega Veneta.
The company has also been ramping up its outerwear and rtw offer, and the home fragrance category. It launched three scented candles, Sun Lotion, Coffee and Baby Powder, with help from the perfumer Lyn Harris, and via a new license with United Perfumes. The second phase is already in development for a March 18 launch, and more scents are planned. The candles are sold in Anya Hindmarch stores in the U.S., U.K., Japan, South Korea and Singapore and via wholesale partners.