See Now, Buy Now reverses course at New York Fashion Week

Global Business

The concept of being able to instantly buy what you see on the runway has been fully embraced by fashion brands Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry and Ralph Lauren.

Other designers have jumped on the bandwagon but now some early adopters are reversing course.

CGTN’s Karina Huber explains.

“Tom Ford was one of the first designers to embrace the See Now, Buy Now movement. He actually cited that the waiting of six months for a garment was antiquated. Ironically, he’s also the first designer to drop out of the See Now, Buy Now movement,” Natalie Zfat, social media expert said.

Ford said while the brand got a sales bump after his see-now buy-now show, he also lost out on a month of sales. His fall collection hit the stores in September after the runway show. Traditionally, fall clothes are seen on the runway in February and are available in August. Fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul has also moved away from see-now buy-now.

A key distinction has to be made between labels that are sticking to See Now/Buy and those who are not. Brands like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry all have a large retail presence. But Tom Ford and Thakoon rely mainly on department stores for the bulk of their sales.

Joshua Williams, a professor at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, said there is a longer lag time getting clothes from the runway to the floor at department stores than at independent retailers.

“If you are selling to a department store, you do have to have three to six months in order to get it around. So the question really becomes, can the retail department stores change their model of business because before they do it Tom Ford and others are reliant on that model,” Williams said.

Also, there are risks in putting designs into production without knowing how much demand there will be, risks smaller designers can’t take.

Zfat said there are positives and negatives for those who can no longer stick with the See-Now, Buy Now model.

“I think from a psychological standpoint, a lot of people will argue that waiting six months is actually what makes a product more desirable and more attractive and so the See-Now Buy-Now approach may be good psychologically for consumers, but the millennial consumer will tell you otherwise. They want to be able to shop what they see right away,” Zfat said.

What will happen to those that can’t meet that desire for instant gratification in the long run may just be in the eye of the beholder.

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