President and chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America
This story first appeared in the October 12, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The idea of show-now-buy-now really connects back to our Boston Consulting Group study that we did at the beginning of the calendar year. Everyone is aware of that report and that study. And that got a lot of the conversation going globally. In many ways, the experimentation that happened during fashion week, and that’s really what I want to call it, is a direct result of that Boston Consulting Group study. I’m happy that it had some impact or influence on what designers did. What I saw, read and heard was kind of this general acceptance of, ‘Do what’s right for you.’ Or ‘Do what’s right for your brand.’ That was one of the tenets that came out of the study.
“I think there was a lot of worry that there would be a lot of confusion that people wouldn’t understand what season it was they were looking at. I think everyone — fashion week attendees and consumers as well — navigated that. It was pretty clear that what you were looking at you could buy now, and if it wasn’t, you couldn’t. The formats really ranged from Tommy’s [Hilfiger] magnificent pier and carnival, to Tom’s [Ford] very elegant and sophisticated dinner, to Ralph’s [Lauren] outdoor Madison Avenue [show], Rebecca Minkoff — what she did in SoHo — or even Tanya Taylor, who did a more traditional presentation at Spring Studio with a number of key looks available immediately after [at] Saks. Of course, Thakoon had been developing a direct-to-consumer concept….
“There was a lot of experimentation, and that’s always a good thing. When you experiment with different ideas with a fashion week, some of it will not work, and some of it will work. And those that were more traditional, and do things as business-as-usual can see what others are doing, and can either follow [that] path or not. I was incredibly encouraged by the experimentation of it all. People were trying something different. When you look at all the different stakeholders, even the way it was written about in editorial and the coverage all felt very positive.”
President of the Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode
French fashion’s governing body continues to say “non” to in-season fashion shows.
“We have not changed our mind,” Toledano said. In February, the Fédération’s board unanimously decided to maintain the capital’s winning formula — with runway shows taking place a season before collections are sold at retail.
“Creative brands,” which value craftsmanship, details and new shapes, simply need the time, Toledano argued. “The way it is shown now makes sense and it has nothing to do with being tech savvy.”
France’s fashion business provides some 500,000 jobs and generates 125 billion euros, or more than $130 billion at current exchange, in revenues, 40 percent of them achieved at export. Toledano noted that the Fédération’s 90 members export 80 percent of their production, suggesting robust international demand for French apparel and leather goods at the designer level.
He characterized as muted the initial see-now-buy-now experiments in New York, with most hinged on capsules, and not complete collections.
In his view, more effective fixes to fashion’s woes include in-season deliveries — as opposed to winter coats when it’s sweltering outside — and eliminating too-early sales, which erode margins and endanger specialty stores.
The Fédération also allows ready-to-wear guests to present during couture, giving the likes of Vetements a chance to show its main collection at the time of pre-collections, giving more time to manage their supply chain and deliver in a timely fashion.
Chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council
“We’re excited that businesses are thinking about new models, and are being true entrepreneurs, looking for ways to improve the experience for their customers. We’re proud that Burberry was the first big brand to announce see-now-buy-now and that they pulled it off with such style and creativity. They proved it can be done, and created a really exciting model. It’s been getting businesses to think about what they can do.”
President of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana
“Personally, I think [instant] fashion fits better with streetwear and product-oriented collections. It’s a more complicated matter when there is a strong creative component and a designer is the driver of the collection. Designers have more freedom to be creative in a show, as the market has more time to decide.
“And those who do [have instant fashion], it’s just a small part. It’s not easy in terms of timing to produce the pieces and it’s also risky; how much can you sell?
“Designers want to create desire and be influential. Instant fashion is more for brands that are more marketing or product oriented, or driven by merchandisers, but those that have the ambition to influence the future and work on research are not into it.”