The traditional fashion week show schedule is undergoing a transformation. Designers such as Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford and Rebecca Minkoff have opted to align their future catwalk shows with retail delivery timetables, so collections will be available for consumers to buy immediately after the event for the first time.
Gucci, on the other hand, has announced it will not be following in its contemporaries’ footsteps, arguing that making consumers wait six months for its collections “creates desire”. Drapers visited the London Fashion Week designer showrooms at the Brewer Street car park on February 19 to ask new and up-and-coming designers about the challenges and opportunities this change presents.
Alice Horlick, creative director of accessories brand Aevha: “It’s a good idea. Everything nowadays is so instant because of social media, so fashion should be the same - we should be able to buy something we like straight away. A lot of the bigger brands are missing out on sales because they can’t do this.”
Tess Andrews, director at leather accessories brand Loxley: “Although we have no plans to change how we work, I think [the changes] will trickle down to smaller brands further down the line. I think [the industry] will want to align all the collections.”
Caitlin Charles-Jones, founder of her eponymous knitwear brand: “The change makes sense from a consumer point of view, but for a small designer to produce the volume in that tight timeframe would be a challenge. That being said I do think a lot of brands will make the change.”
Mariana Catta Preta, designer at Peter Jensen: “It’s a great idea and I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before now, given the influence of social media. The final consumer wants the product as soon as they see it, so why not make it available? The buyer appointments will still happen beforehand so it’s quite safe in that sense.”
Anna Pitchouguina, founder of womenswear brand Pitchouguina: “I’m actually doing a pre-order straight after my show this season for the first time. When people see the show and the product they get excited and want to buy it, so pre-order allows me to capitalise on this without having to have the collection ready straight away.”
Helen Delaney, designer at knitwear brand Electronic Sheep: “It will make it harder for smaller brands who can’t produce their collections that quickly to compete. We can show our product on social media during fashion week but we can’t deliver it for another six months. Everyone is becoming more impatient but we have to make sure the creativity isn’t lost in the urgency.”
Yakshi Malhotra, founder and creative director of her eponymous womenswear brand: “Change is always good and I think everyone will eventually follow the big brands. However, I don’t think smaller brands will be able to cope with having full collections ready that early, particularly if they are hand-making the pieces.”
Sabinna Rachimova, CEO and co-founder womenswear brand Sabinna: “It’s interesting to combine the commercial and the creative. It makes sense if you have your own retail outlets, but if you depend on wholesale buyers it could be difficult. It will be interesting to see how it will work with the buyers’ schedule. Younger designers will find it difficult to get production done in time.”
Gemma Sort- Chilvers, assistant at womenswear label Zoe Jordan: “In 2015 we launched our Knit Lab collection, which is seasonless and available all year round. It works really well for us and has boosted sales as our stockists know they can order today and get a delivery tomorrow. The recent changes other designers are making have brought it to the forefront of our minds and we are considering whether we should move the mainline collection. It makes sense because consumers want the collections immediately and if they have to wait six months they may have moved onto the next thing.”