Burberry See Now Buy Now Collection Debuts
Fashion is driven by an insatiable desire for the new but is always teasing with new collections. Burberry says no more as its new collection goes on sale now.
Fashion is driven by an insatiable desire for the new but is always teasing with fresh collections. Burberry says no more as its September collection goes on sale now, immediately after its showing at London Fashion Week. The British luxury label is hardly alone in making this move, with a number of major names agreeing with fashionistas that the months-long delay between seeing a new collection and having it in your hands is annoying.
Burberry put on sale its entire September collection as soon as it was previewed on the London catwalk, days after Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger made similar moves in New York. This is not to say that Burberry is following in anyone’s footsteps. This move has been in the works for some time and the brand is widely considered to be a trendsetter as far as adopting new ideas goes. Monday’s show, live streamed online around the world, was rich in historical references with heavy prints, military embroidery on jackets and ruffs inspired by Virginia Woolf’s epoch-spanning novel Orlando.
“I like traditional, beautiful, slow crafts, but we are living in a moment that changes everything – and speed is everything,” Burberry creative director and chief executive officer Christopher Bailey told reporters. “We’re changing the way that we all work and think and live.”
The move to “buy now” means ditching the long-established tradition of showing one season ahead, which is pretty radical when you think about it. This change will have an impact right down the supply chain. It has pitted the more business-centric fashion weeks in London and New York against Milan and Paris, where luxury labels such as Dior and Chanel argue that instant gratification will disrupt the creative process. Truly, if ever a fashion season heralded a decisive break with the past, this is it.
But Bailey said the shift naturally follows the democratisation of fashion shows through live streaming, in which Burberry was a pioneer and which is now used in most of London’s on-schedule shows. “We will reflect after this show what has worked, what hasn’t worked. But I get excited about new things,” he said.
Changing the business model
By way of contrast, we already know that Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel is decidedly against instant gratification, a sentiment echoed by the business side of things too. Fashion mogul Francois-Henri Pinault, whose Kering group owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, has previously said the new model went against the “dream and desire” that drives the industry.
For Burberry, it coincided with the merging of the brand’s men and women’s lines, resulting in just two shows a year rather than four, which Bailey said had led to a “much calmer season”. Whatever the case may be there, it will certainly save Burberry money, which is important in the current tough times.
But selling off the catwalk is a challenge for smaller brands. They do not have their own shops and use fashion week as a showcase for buyers, who place orders that the designers fill over the coming months. Take for example Temperley London, a label known for its modern take on bohemian style using artisan techniques with hand-worked details.
This season it sold three items straight after its London show via social media platform Vero, but designer Alice Temperley said any more would be a struggle. “We couldn’t do the whole collection without changing our entire business model,” she told AFP.
With consumers becoming ever more demanding, such brands may have no choice but to speed up the delivery process, however. “Consumers now live in a very fluid present, and that is where the brands need to be,” said Magdalena Kondej, retail analyst at Euromonitor International.
“Fast fashion has an obvious advantage in terms of already efficient supply chains but it is luxury brands that will have to adjust on a bigger scale and shorten the period between runway buzz and retail availability.”
Nevertheless, this line of thinking presumes that speed is most important to customers, who obviously don’t care about supply chains and logistics. They do care about quality though and we hope the current moves in fashion towards greater currency won’t lead to creative and production compromises. Artisans can only stitch things together so fast, after all, and that is part of the charm. After all, we do not live in the age of Star Trek, where advanced technology produces anything you care to ask for, on-demand.