Around two weeks ago I tweeted that “Instagram killed the Fashion Star,” passing reference to the 1980 single “Video Killed The Radio Star” by New Wavers’ The Buggles who prophesied that 20th century technology would hamper the arts. Well 21st century technology has hampered fashion and put the industry in a conundrum. The consumer wants the fashion fast. The artist wants the fashion slow to foster creativity. Can fashion be both fast and slow?
Ever since Instagram took its front-row perch during fashion week, designers have actually been presenting consumer-interfacing fashion shows without the benefits. Who wants friends without benefits? The consumer has had VIP access to every look coming down the runway in real time; only to be exhausted by the imagery after six months of seeing these looks on bloggers, red carpets, digital media, and fledgling print publications. When runway hits reality at the store, the consumer has “been there and done that.” What once seemed like a perfect storm of exposure has revealed a retail being rained on at a parade. These brand new clothes are already old and frustrating consumers. Switching to a “Buy It Now” platform (brilliantly utilized by very profitable retailers ranging from Zara to H&M and QVC) seems the only way to satiate the shopper, but how can one do it with artistic integrity?
The fast yet slow remedy may be an option for independent designers that alludes larger brands who are conflicted about the paradigm shift in the entire fashion calendar and process of buying and selling fashion. On February 18th, Decades will present local couturier Valerj Pobega who will artistically present her Fall 2016 collection on dancers in our Los Angeles boutique for clients and press. This interactive fashion experience will be a a hybrid of “Buy It Now” consumer interfacing shopping because each order placed of Pobega’s entirely hand sewn and painted design will be delivered to the client within two weeks. In other words, her season-less Fall 2016 collection will be delivered nearly a month before spring has sprung!
For a smaller, demi-couturier this is a tangible option to successfully interface with the consumer. For larger brands owning their own brick and mortar retail such as Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, and Burberry, a substantial direct to consumer business and strong historic metrics in selling patterns is well established so they can confidently pre-produce a collection to sell within their stores and eCommerce in tandem with the Insta frenzy of the fashion show. The challenge is really for multi-brand retailers and depart stores who desperately need a boost and immediate social media sales benefits of a fashion show. The runway buy (which is minimal compared to monies allocated to commercial and pre-collections) will need to be chosen (and designed) months in advance so product drops the minute Gigi Hadid hits the catwalk.
The times are a changing. Fashion needs to be fast, but creativity can’t be rushed. This is a great opportunity for artisanal independent talents lie Valerj Pobega to flourish and an obstacle for small to midsize brands who are dependent on a wholesale model. However, I think we all agree that “Buy It Now” is better than “Buy It Never” because ironically what’s new is over and we can thank Instagram for that.