LONDON — Topshop is the latest brand to join the buy-now-wear-now bandwagon, WWD has learned.
The high-street label will offer consumers the opportunity to purchase select pieces from the women’s spring 2017 collection immediately after the runway show on Sept. 18, from the website and in selected shops globally. The remainder will be available for purchase on Nov. 11 in stores and online.
“Our customers are always looking for immediacy and this feedback, coupled with the proliferation of social media, made runway-to-retail the logical next step for Unique,” Topshop creative director Kate Phelan told WWD. “This move is a direct result of listening to our customers. They want to wear the clothes they see on the runway now and the traditional cycle is becoming less appealing to them.”
The consumer shift to a buy-now-wear-now model is part of the brand’s plans for the Unique label going forward. The company noted that “bringing customers closer to the London Fashion Week experience has been a focus for the brand now,” and said it recognizes “the importance of disrupting the traditional model” and sees the move as “a very natural evolution for the brand.” Regarding the Topman range, the company could not comment on the menswear plans at this stage.
In terms of how it will affect delivery and production, the brand noted that it is working with partners to deliver. “This shift has touched all parts of the business and has required huge commitment from all the teams,” said Phelan. “We have also worked closely with all our global partners, who are incredibly excited about the initiative, to ensure a smooth transition. Over 50 percent of the collection in September will be immediately shopable with an aim to deliver 100 percent shopability for February 2017.”
The Topshop Unique show, which will be live-streamed at 2 p.m. GMT, will take place on Sept. 18 at East London’s Old Spitalfields market. Topshop also plans to set up a market stall that will be open to the public where shoppers can purchase some of the pieces from the collection that day.
A number of brands and designers including Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, Rebecca Minkoff and Vetements have indicated plans to move to present consumer-friendly shows or seasonless fashion.
With New York Fashion Week beginning next week, this season is seen as a key test of the show-now-buy-now trend sweeping the runways. Both Burberry and Tom Ford skipped showing in February in order to shift to the new model, while Minkoff tested it last season. Several brands — including Hilfiger, Coach and Prada — included pieces or capsule collections in their runway shows last season that were available for immediate order.
Retailers have been pushing for the change in strategy, arguing that the malaise affecting fashion retailing partially stems from a consumer bored by seeing clothes on the runway months before they are available in stores. Buyers argue that showing closer to the season will help create more excitement among shoppers and, it is hoped, drive them back into stores.
Some retailers have recently said they have seen a slight pickup in apparel over the last few months, while others say there are no strong signs of an upturn. Consumers have cut back on buying clothes in favor of spending on technology, travel and “experiences.”