SYDNEY — IMG Fashion is heading into retail — at least on a pop-up basis.
On Thursday, while announcing changes to its Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia lineup for 2014, IMG unveiled plans to add a new two-day consumer-focused showcase to supplement the trade event, as well as an e-commerce initiative that will offer consumers spring 2014 merchandise straight off the runway.
The MBFWA runway show schedule is to be cut from five to four days in 2014 and will run from April 7-10 at Sydney’s Carriageworks, immediately followed by the consumer showcase, dubbed Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weekend Edition, from April 12-13 at the same venue. Tickets are to be sold for the public event, which will feature four shows each day, plus styling sessions and blogger talks.
The online store, linked to MBFWA’s live stream program, is to remain operational for up to six weeks after the event.
Participating designers can offer a small selection of their new season merchandise either straight off their runways via pre-order, with an 8-10 week delivery window, or else on a buy-now basis, via exclusive merchandise produced for the pop-up site.
Over the past two years, a handful of MBFWA designers has teamed up with local e-tailers to offer some merchandise straight off their runways, but this is the first attempt at broadening the “shop the runway” concept to cover the entire event.
According to Elle Turner, IMG Fashion director of brand and strategy, the e-commerce concept may be rolled out to other IMG Fashion events internationally.
“The learnings from this program will be shared with the global team and form part of the knowledge base for the next incarnation of events in other regions” Turner told WWD. “To ensure we can facilitate future opportunities, the e-commerce platform is being built as a component of the global hub with the capability to manage multiple currencies and languages.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more designers participating in events around the globe find ways to generate sales from the interest and hype promoted by the runway shows. As event organizers, the Australian e-commerce solution will be the first time IMG Fashion has undertaken an e-tail initiative”.
The decision to cut MBFWA from its traditional five day schedule to four follows difficulties in filling up the final day and mirrors wider problems in the local fashion sector.

Although Australian retail spending continues to improve — rising 0.8 per cent in September to 22.15 billion Australian dollars or $20.55billon at current exchange, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics — a number of local designers and fashion retailers have closed their businesses over the past two years.
Also to be cut from MBFWA’s 2014 program is the Informa Exhibitions Australia-operated Premiere trade show.
According to IMG, the new Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weekend Edition will not replace its Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney consumer showcase, the seventh annual edition of which is due to run from August 20-24 2014 at the Sydney Town Hall.

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