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Seasonal fashion is a thing of the past

The spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons are artificial constructs that do not reflect the way consumers now shop for clothing, an expert panel at the Drapers Fashion Forum said today.

“People want newness,” argued Miriam Lahage, chief executive of lingerie pureplay Figleaves, reflecting on changes to the way fashion product is being delivered. Some brands, such as streetwear label Supreme, have weekly drops, rather than waiting for a change in season.

“We’re definitely moving away from the traditional fashion ‘code’,” said Charlotte Clutterbuck, customer director at Karen Millen. “Customers still recognise points in time when you get new season product, but coat season, for example, is different from what it used to be.”

“Also, we’re global, so we have to manage [drops of new product] across different time zones.”

Ryan Llewellyn-Pace, commercial director, UK and Ireland at Barbour, pointed out that pre-collections are becoming more and more important, as a way of allowing retailers to sell full-price during Sale periods.

“Weather patterns are changing and mobile has changed everything – the ability to buy is a lot easier. Our success has been driven by trying to understand what’s going on in the market, and deliver those drops at the right time.”

Llewellyn-Pace admitted that for a brand like Barbour, which is more than 120 years old, it can be easy to rely on certain classic styles rather than introducing newness. To get around this, it has introduced new categories over the years, such as knitwear and shirting.

For Clutterbuck, the key is to find a balance. Karen Millen launched a range of “investment basics” in August, offering wardrobe essentials such as tailored trousers, on top of which it layers seasonal hero pieces.

All three panellists said they leave trend chasing to fast fashion players. However, they pointed out that you can make the right seasonal trends work for your brand.

“If you can see seasons coming around and the new trends resonate with your customer, dial it up,” said Clutterbuck. “Tailoring is coming through for autumn/winter, and that’s at the heart of Karen Millen. Finding that balance is an art form, but listen to what you’re great at.”

“We may not be Missguided or Topshop, but we need to rethink how we tackle the supply chain to become more responsive,” added Lahage.

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