Runway to Racks: See Now, Buy Now

By: Jen Lee
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Photo via Hola

Social media is now an integral aspect of marketing in fashion. With the prominence of e-commerce and online marketing, digital consumers are born and shaped into an era of immediacy. With this, designers are experimenting the See Now Buy Now business model. You’ve been hearing the term See Now Buy Now recited all throughout fashion month. But what is it exactly, and are high fashion business models adopting a permanent shift?

Fashion weeks traditionally provide a platform for designers to present their upcoming collections for the seasons to follow. Spring / summer collections are unveiled on the runways in September, while fall / winter collections are staged in February. Given this structure, editors and buyers have great influence on the season’s trends and direction of sales. However, social media has changed the ways in which consumers perceive and access fashion today. There is no longer a substantial gap between the notion of viewing the runways and buying, since digital circulation of fashion content has given accessibility to all. Stemmed from this idea of appealing directly to consumers, emerged a prominent business model across many design houses this past fashion month, See Now Buy Now.

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Photo via mdemulher

It is no question that the digital sphere is greatly impacting the business model involved in this ever-evolving ecosystem of consumer-to-business relationship. Fashion shows are said to be relying heavily on a spectacle effect, where the focal point is on the social media buzz pre-season, the front row attendees, and the creative theme of the show as opposed to the novelty of the collections. This is just one by-product of the online generation’s demand for immediacy and connection to rapid fashion cycles. Majority of the season’s collections are live streamed online, which bridges the gap between trade panels and consumers despite their location. The line between exclusive content and accessible market is blurred, and provides a sense of immediacy to purchase off the runway.

Furthermore, the notion of oversharing on social media provides fast fashion retailers the ability to produce counterfeits or “runway-inspired” products of designer collections, all before the authentic designs are put out on the sales floor. In turn, fast fashion has an unexpected influence on high fashion. Although millennials are early adopters of technology and are accustomed to information overload, media intake and its influence can hinder their interests. Thakoon Panichgul who recently adopted the See Now, Buy Now model told Fashionista that, “sometimes when [customers] get too much information from all sides, from stores, from editors, it becomes a bit confusing. It’s more refreshing to be able to just communicate [his] ideas down to the customer.”

At the end of the day, consumers are the market, and are responsible for driving the sales figures. Social media’s perpetual cycle of content bridges this process of “seeing” and “buying” altogether, and consumers are starting to demand immediacy from fashion. With this in mind, designers have shifted their focus while maintaining their creative visions. Rigorous sharing of runway content on social media quickly shapes the public’s opinion, upcoming trends, and reaches the attention of fast fashion giants. Longstanding heritage of high fashion brands do not override the consumer behaviours nor the fast fashion environment that social media is generating for the fashion industry. Is this new model here to stay and restricting the industry’s pace and allowing consumers to become their own buyers? Designers are innovating new ways to attract crowds and interact organically with their consumers. Restructuring the business model is seemingly an ongoing effort to keep up with consumer interests and aligning itself with the ever-changing online and offline environments. Presenting womens and mens collections in one show, rescheduling the fashion calendar, offering items at the show venue, and collaborating with social media influencers appear to be an innovative attempt for these designers to understand their markets and boost sales figures. It is an experimental stage at this point to see if this business model is able to lead to further increases throughout the season.

Rebecca Minkoff’s Runway-to-Retail Strategy

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Photo via Daily Front Row

Rebecca Minkoff is one of the early direct-to-consumer model adopters. She told Business of Fashion that the brand experience a 200% increase in sales following the runway-to-retail plans last season. During New York Fashion Week last month, the cobblestoned street outside her SoHo boutique was turned into a runway, and social media influencers including Shea Marie and Chriselle Lim joined the lineup of models to debut the fall / winter 2016 ready-to-wear collection that was ready on the racks immediately following the show. The collection was present with pebbled leather statement jackets; rebelled from the fashion calendar showing fall / winter 2016, and exemplified the consumer-focused mindset.

Vetements’ Rebel Against Counterfeits

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Photo via Matches Fashion

With the rise of French label Vetements, the direct consumer approach was recognized to be an ideal fit for their cult-following. Vetements opened a guerilla garage sale of their capsule collection titled, “Official Fake” in Seoul, Korea earlier this month. The location of the garage sale was announced as “secret location” and was only revealed a few hours before the 5-hour shopping frenzy. Seoul’s youth-driven style was studied closely by the label before dropping the collection in the outskirts of the city. Perfectly timed before the kick-off of Seoul Fashion Week, Vetements communicated upfront with their explicit “Official Fake” collection title and the city’s abundance of Vetements-inspired pieces. The rebellious, street style-obsessed locals were fully in line with Vetements’ remixed designs and signature pieces, and the sale proved to be a huge success. Vetements sat out this season during fashion week and plan to show in January instead- to hit racks sooner after their runway reveal.

Tommy Hilfiger’s #TommyXGigi Carnival on the Pier: #TommyNow

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Photo via Forbes

Tommy Hilfiger collaborated with Gigi Hadid on a capsule collection that produced a giant spectacle in New York City. The carnival-themed setting on the pier provided the perfect social media stage for trades people and consumers, and it also helped that Gigi’s A-list best friends were sat front row. The anticipated collection was ready for sale immediately following the show, and Gigi Hadid travelled to major capitals to celebrate the collection. All-American love for Tommy and Gigi blasted Instagram on the day of the show and after, exemplifying See Now Buy Now to be the way to go.


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