It may have been a rush for some, and a relative breeze for others, but the see-now-buy-now club this season nonetheless walked away having learned some valuable lessons. The biggest one? They definitely would do it again.
This story first appeared in the October 12, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As designers dissect their experiences from doing an instant fashion show, those who participated said the other lessons they learned included: the need to do a better job synchronizing their deliveries to their wholesale accounts, freestanding stores and web sites; there has to be enough product in stock immediately after the show to avoid consumer disappointment; sales personnel have to be brought up to speed on the see-now-buy-now offerings and brands have to communicate the concept effectively with consumers; companies must ensure they are delivering new product throughout the season, not just immediately after the show, and there have to be digital activations throughout the season to keep the momentum going and maintain consumer interest.
WWD reached out to the brands that participated in the see-now-buy-now phenomenon this season for their reactions. Here’s what they had to say:
“This was a concept I really believed in because it meant sharing our collection immediately with our customers. The response has been very positive with record-breaking sales to show for it. The world is changing the way women want to live and shop and I am changing with them.”
As for the challenges, “At one point, we were creating two collections at once, challenging everyone on our team to work in a calendar that was totally different. My main concern was not to sacrifice any of the creativity or quality of each of the collections. We started on this journey committing to the same standards that have always been the measure of what we do. If at any point we felt we were jeopardizing that quality, we would have stopped the process….If you believe in change you have to create change. We did that. There was such excitement throughout the whole company to be able to share a big moment like this directly with our consumers, and we are even more excited to do it again with our February collection.”
“When it comes to ‘ready-to-wear, ready to go,’ we’re finding that a hybrid blend is really what works for us. In today’s world, there’s not only one answer.
“We will continue to focus on an edited group of merchandise for our most curious consumers and have the bulk of the collection available for the consumer during the traditional shipping period. Our customers who buy right after the show are excited by seasonless pieces that are special. This is not about wardrobe staples. We are very pleased with the response…from our clients thus far and we are always listening to them and trying new ideas.”
Uri Minkoff, Chief executive officer of Rebecca Minkoff
“This season was epic for us. We had learned a lot of the pitfalls from the logistics and scheduling perspective from February, so we were able to calendar everything….”
There was a line for two to three hours outside their boutique following Minkoff’s SoHo show. The show was filmed using 360-degree virtual reality and live-streamed to smartphones and Nasdaq’s screen above Times Square. Sales across its stores and web site increased 168 percent, compared to the weekend after its runway show last year. The company beat its best day ever by about 25 percent and it was only open for a half day because of the show.
“Now we have a problem that a lot of our goods have sold out. We underestimated the impact of some of these things,” Minkoff said. He said that “during these moments, there’s such feverish appetite, you end up selling out in three or four days.” The issue now is, “How do we align our supply chain around these big hero moments?”
“I would say it checked all of our boxes. It really drove sales and it drove social media impressions to the tune of two billion.”
The brand experienced high-double-digit growth in retail and e-commerce performance versus the same period last year. There was a 900 percent increase in traffic to tommy.com overall in the 48 hours following the show — more than 70 percent of visitors during this time were new to tommy.com. “The results that we’re seeing in terms of sales across many different channels, the visibility and engagement, the hard and soft metrics, it really performed well across every one of those buckets. So for us, the foundation really worked. It’s now a question of tweaking and fine-tuning to learn where we should put the majority of our efforts,” added Avery Baker, chief marketing and brand officer.
Hilfiger said they were 1,000 percent above average with Twitter, and were 520 percent above average with Instagram. Hilfiger had a 300 percent increase in revenue generated in the first 24 hours, and the tmy.girl bot had more than 8,000 messages exchanged with an average of four minutes of engagement per user. The Instagram shoppable feed had a 50 percent click-through rate to tommy.com, and the shoppable live-stream had more than 7,100 product click-throughs on tommy.com.
So what did Hilfiger learn about inventory? “We did learn that anything Gigi [Hadid] wears, or Taylor Swift will wear [to the show], we should increase the quantities for,” he said. The company’s collaboration with Hadid continues through next spring.
Lucy Yi, president of Thakoon
“Our business model is not really predicated on see-now-buy-now per se. The model we’re calling ourselves is more about ‘designer fashion now.’ See-now-buy-now is an offspring of our business model.”
The company’s runway show ultimately translated into significant traffic to Thakoon’s web site, traffic to its store in Manhattan and, ultimately, sales. “Although we had this huge peak the week after the runway show, we were able to maintain the interest because of the digital marketing activities in place. Every two to three weeks, our customers are notified there are new products, and every product has a life cycle of six to eight weeks.” It’s full price only, and each delivery has on average about 30 styles. “We bought small and wanted to be in a position that we would sell out of entire sizes and styles, and not be left with excess inventory.”
“In general, the whole see-now-buy-now has been massively successful for us. It’s so early on, but it’s going very well, and we’re on point with our projections.” The company is sticking to a wholesale calendar so it has as much time built in as possible. “We’ve already sold out in a particular piece in several size runs,” she said, pointing to some tops that she was able to restock in seven days. “We can do a recut in seven to 10 days,” she said of her garment center production.
Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative and chief executive officer
“It’s very much the culture in the company to move forward, to try new things.”
Some of the key looks had sold out online shortly after the show, with cavalry jackets costing $6,500, among the most popular items. Higher-ticket merchandise also sold quickly on multibrand web sites such as Selfridges.com and Mytheresa.com, where the collection was available to purchase a few minutes after the show. Selfridges.com stocked the brand’s small python and ostrich leather shoulder bags, priced at 1,500 pounds, or $1,947, in a range of color variations, and the majority had sold out the same night as the show and proved more popular than the lower-priced logo saddle bags.
“It’s not a shock to my customer because that’s how we’ve done it for so many years since we started Urban Zen.” This was the first time that Karan showed the line as a presentation during New York Fashion Week. “The reason I did that was to support the industry and show the importance of showing in-season.” Bestsellers were the wrap-and-tie jerseys, scarf jersey dresses and tops, skinny cotton stretch pants, the wrap-and-tie jumpsuits, pull-on leather pants, the shearling reversible vest, the suede kimono jacket and the wrap-and-tie suede jacket and cashmere wrap. “This is exactly what the customer wants, see-now-buy-now. That’s the instant gratification that everybody’s looking for.”
Massimo Ferretti executive chairman of Moschino’s parent company Aeffe ¬ Moschino’s first experience with instant fashion was with the fall 2014 collection, which was “positive.” However, Ferretti underscored that there were only two looks out of 50 that were readily available for spring, so only a very small part of the collection. “We will continue [with capsules] for Moschino, because it’s fun and the brand is very pop, close to people, so this fits with the label. Not all brands can [show capsules]. With Moschino it worked, but it will be very limited also in the future, it’s not a business. It meets the demands of those that don’t want to wait, but we can’t expand to the detriment of quality. I believe that ready-to-wear should keep the pace of its production cycle. Customers are willing to wait for the product, if the experience is fulfilling.”
“We didn’t have the capability unfortunately like a Tommy [Hilfiger] to have the whole show be see-now-buy-now, but we do have select merchandise in the…capsule,” said John Targon, codesigner with Scott Studenberg. “It’s still selling and it’s doing great.” They offered “Minions” hats, T-shirts and tank tops for immediate selling. He said they didn’t get orders in advance and took an inventory position. “We sold out of the earrings and some of the dresses and button-down shirts,” Studenberg said. The capsule was available at TriBeCa boutique Patron of the New, and on their web site, which carried some exclusive styles. The duo said they would happily do it again. “It opens you up to a different audience and we tailored a product for that audience,” Targon said.
“This is a dynamic industry and we need to be open to embrace change, or be aware of it to stay relevant. I’ve always been very curious and passionate about new technologies and social media, and when I met Ayman [Hariri, founder of the social media platform Vero] and heard about the buy-now button [on the site] we decided to collaborate with an exclusive edit of our collection….For this collaboration with Vero, we are the first women’s wear luxury fashion brand to use social media commerce, which in itself is very exciting. The fact Vero does video, film and music on the app also opens whole new worlds of high-brow collaborations and the ability to create amazing content and to build a community within it.”
Kate Phelan, creative director, Topshop
“Giving customers what they want, immediately, is in Topshop’s DNA, so this move feels like a natural evolution for the Unique brand. So many of our customers are shopping on phones now and they’re constantly on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat looking for inspiration. When they see the looks from the show, they don’t want to wait six months, they want to buy and wear it, now.
“The blouse from the look worn by Taylor Hill, which opened the show, sold out by the end of that day and other lines followed suit shortly after. It’s…involved all the different aspects of the business pulling together to make it work and we’re already very busy preparing the next collection, which will be available to buy in February.”
“The whole experience is great because we like disrupting things.…To me it’s got nothing to do with anything more than getting closer to my customer and wanting to involve them more in our world and them to be the first to see things and to be there at the beginning — to have the opportunity. Even if they don’t buy it, it really doesn’t matter; it means they got to see it.
“On the day of the show we sold 42 pieces — a few more than I thought it would be. The whole process to get there is much more considered. People are getting to grips with it. It’s possible to cope with the workload and it’s possible to deliver as well. You’ve got to be well organized, that’s all.”
Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, designers of Preen
“There is a real appetite for instant gratification, and we loved the excitement people felt about getting something they had just seen go down the runway. We … are always evolving and experimenting and thought the time was right to test the new idea….”