We Saw, But Did We Buy?

The results of see-now, buy-now collections are coming in, so where did everything land?

Now that fashion month is over, we can finally start figuring out whether “see-now, buy-now” shows translated to sales. Survey says: They did and they didn’t. 

Burberry was the most publicized brand to switch over this season, having heavily promoted the new format before its live-streamed show. Initially, the strategy seemed a success, with Fashionista reporting that in the days following the show, pieces were sold out on the website and from certain brick-and-mortar locations. Great—except that stock was kept low, with some locations only getting one of each size in a product line. In that context, things are a little more do-or-die: Something either sold out, or didn’t sell at all.

To get a better idea of how the sales panned out, the entire stock needed to be analyzed across the board, which is where we are now. Fashionista is now reporting that overall, clothing only contributes to 5% of global sales for the brand to begin with, and sales weren’t amazing, but they weren’t bad either. That being said, the Bridle bag, which first appeared at London fashion week last month, is now one of the highest selling bags for the British label. Would the Bridle bag have done the same had it been shown in advance of sales? We will never know. 

Where does this leave us? Honestly, nowhere. No, really, this is the least definitive response possible to one of the biggest, increasingly popular shakeups in the industry today. There are several possible reasons for the results. The first is that the customer base did not fully understand that pieces were immediately available, meaning that in a few years (with some education) we can get better numbers. The other explanation was that customers completely understood what was going on, yet were still not motivated to buy. Perhaps if they knew that the quantities were limited, it would have sparked more of a rush—people go crazy if something is limited. 

Was this all worth it? From a press standpoint, yes. Everyone was talking about Burberry, about this collection, and about this show. The brand even figured out a way around magazine printing lead times, ending up on in the pages of several publications alongside all the collections that showed back in February.

Sales-wise, the entire see-now, buy-now movement will simply need more time, and more analysis. Which items do people actually want to buy right away? Which brands do better with runway pieces, and which do better with accessories? Looking back, it seems naïve to have assumed that brands switching to immediately shoppable collections would be able to solve the problem of consumer fatigue. The modern iteration of the fashion production cycle and calendar is a big, complicated problem, that will require a complicated, nuanced solution. Let’s see how this plays out.

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