The state of fashion’s business model is in flux. This year, ongoing debates over direct-to-consumer shows and runway-to-e-commerce has dominated fashion weeks. With the proliferation of social media; the speed of fashion is faster than ever. Consumer behaviour is all about ease of access and many companies are investing in ways to make products easier to shop. However, some find that these consumer driven models takes away the artistic experience of runway shows.

Louis Vuitton SS16 RTW | Photography courtesy of Daily Mail

Last February, Burberry announced their new direction towards business. Come September, the British luxury brand will present season-less men’s and women’s shows together, twice a year. The collections will also be instantly available to shop online and in-store (WWD, 2016). The minute the runway ends, Burberry will unveil new window displays and change their digital campaigns. This buy-off-the-runway strategy aims to boost sales and maximise on the ‘instant’ momentum created by the show.

Burberry FW16 Snapchat Campaign | Photography courtesy of Burberry

Burberry FW16 Snapchat Campaign | Photography courtesy of Burberry

Burberry FW16 RTW | Photography courtesy of Vogue

Karl Lagerfeld has been quoted “It’s a mess” in regards to the lack of consistency amongst designers towards the runway to consumer strategy. Where it’s been embraced in New York and London, the European fashion capitals of Paris and Milan are still unsure. However, Lagerfeld has also expressed that he’s open to “direct to consumer”, for capsule collections separate to the runway collections. (BOF, 2016).

“Now I want to do something else — perhaps it’s too early to talk about it — to make a special collection only for the [Internet]. Fifteen things, you buy them and you get them immediately.”

Karl Lagerfeld to Business of Fashion, 2016.

Chanel SS17 RTW | Photography courtesy of Vogue

Diane von Furstenburg, chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, told WWD in December “We have designers, retailers and everybody complaining about the shows. Something’s not right anymore because of social media – people are confused. Everyone seems to feel that the shows being consumer-driven is a very good idea.” It seems this issue has the entire fashion industry divided.

Diane von Furstenburg SS17 RTW | Photography courtesy of Vogue

This fashion month season, we’ve seen the fashion shows turn into entertainment shopping events, as another manifestation of the “runway to consumer” model. Tom Ford, Thakoon, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren all showed ready-to-buy, ready-to-wear in New York Fashion Week. At London, Burberry continued with their newly implemented strategy. Spectacle has been key. For FW16, Ford overtook the closed down Four Seasons restaurant in downtown New York; inviting of course a star studded ensemble. Hilfiger’s SS17 show was highly anticipated. The brand staged a fun fair festival, starring Gigi Hadid, on the South Street Seaport. Both events had the collection readily on sale.

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Tom Ford and Daniel Arnold at Tom Ford FW16 | Photography courtesy of Vogue

Tom Ford FW16 | Photography courtesy of Vogue

Runway to consumer has proliferated several seasons now, however this SS17’s interpretation is a warmer approach compared to the cold “buy now” button feel. The fashion experience is blurring with entertainment now more than ever. Intended to draw in the millions, how will emerging brands catch up with the flamboyancy consumers are being conditioned to?

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Tommy Hilfiger SS17 | Photography courtesy of NY Mag

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Tommy Hilfiger SS17 | Photography courtesy of NY Mag

“The world is changing — not always for the best — but we have to follow the changes and the Internet, but there is a way of doing it, you know?”

Karl Lagerfeld to Business of Fashion, 2016.

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