Fashion shows may just be a thing of the past.
“The ecosystem is kind of broken,” said men’s wear designer Todd Snyder during a virtual webinar for Joe’s Blackbook last week. With department and specialty stores going out of business or struggling to survive, and editors either being replaced or magazine staffs being cut, the justification for holding expensive and elaborate runway events has evaporated.
He said social media mentions and influencers are now more important than traditional press. So when a stylist such as Ilaria Urbinati dresses one of her celebrity clients in Todd Snyder, it generates a lot more buzz for the brand than a review in The New York Times or a mention in GQ, he said.
“The way we measure the success of a show is the number of impressions we get,” he said. While that may still number in the billions, it’s more often traced back to Instagram or other social media platforms rather than traditional media sources.
Snyder, one of the last holdouts to show during the struggling New York Fashion Week: Men’s, said since the primary reason to hold a show is to attract buyers and press, he now sees another path forward to grow his brand.
“It’s a direct-to-consumer world now,” he said.
Snyder said around two years ago, he shifted his business model away from wholesale and is now focusing on selling directly to consumers through his web site and his two retail stores in New York. “We couldn’t make any money from wholesale,” he said.
Then the coronavirus hit and the landscape changed, making direct-to-consumer selling even more important.
“Shopping in general will change,” he predicted, citing shop online, pickup in store as a popular option during the pandemic that may become permanent.
The onetime head of men’s wear at J. Crew, who cut his teeth at Ralph Lauren, said since COVID-19 hit, it has been challenging, but the brand is surviving because of its close relationship with its customers, who he described as “classic” but with an eye for details.
The Todd Snyder man likes to know that he’s buying something new and on-trend, but that it will also last for years. “My collection is not meant to be disposable,” he said, adding that his line is also doing well on resale sites such as Grailed and The Real Real, which has turned out to be a nice surprise.
Looking ahead, Snyder said he sees some windows of opportunity, notably the outdoors space. Many families are embracing hiking, camping and swimming this summer as a way to re-create and cut down on their chances of catching the coronavirus. So it’s fortuitous that Snyder’s newest collaboration is with L.L. Bean. Although the relationship began before the pandemic, he expects it will be popular with his customers and Bean’s this fall.
In fact, Snyder, whose collaborations with brands such as Champion account for 50 percent of his overall sales, said the L.L. Bean collection has driven a whole new customer base to his brand, and vice versa. “They got to a new place and we got to a new place,” he said.
With collaborations such as this augmenting his more tailored offerings, it allows Snyder to “fill all the buckets” and address what he sees as important to men today: work, play, sports and the outdoors, he said, creating a pathway for the future.