While not exactly a bastion of designer labels, Latvia has wholeheartedly embraced the buy-now trend for runway shows.
Participants in the most recent round of Riga Fashion Week were encouraged by Baltic Fashion Federation representatives to offer buy-now runway looks. Alise Trautmane, who presents her Narciss collection and is a former Latvia Designer of the Year winner, was one of the first to offer buy-now looks.
During the five-day event, which ended earlier this month, attendees at each show were told beforehand whether the upcoming collection was a buy-now one, and if so, where it was being sold. “It was a little commercial. That had never happened before but it supported the designers. They were acknowledging, ‘Why not shop the collection?’” Trautmane said. “About 400 of the 600 people at the shows were potential clients.”
Having recently stopped doing trade shows, an increasingly popular cost-cutting measure for independent designers, Trautmane said eliminating wholesale is another. With a store in Riga, as well as e-commerce, Trautmane also recently cofounded with Sai Kong a co-sharing store/space called Dreams on Air that features 30 designers in New York City. “I already publicize all the [runway] looks on social media. It doesn’t make sense to tell customers, ‘Oh sorry, this dress will be available in six months’ time.’”
Dealing with “the rising risk-aversiveness of buyers” is also inhibiting many smaller brands from breaking into department stores or concept shops. “Also, the market is so saturated,” Trautmane said.
While the buy-now concept is well-suited for shoppers in Riga, where designer stores are considerably more limited than in other cities, Trautmane believes the formula could work for other independent designers trying to gain ground in the U.S. “There are a lot of challenges for young designers. I do really think this will be the model of the future. With consumers having such a small attention span, it’s totally impossible to expect individuals to be interested in the same product twice.”