NYFW 2016 Revelation: Pondering the Show-Now-Buy-Now Model

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Market Mall

As much as I love the summer I welcome the fall for one reason only. No it’s not the basic pumpkin spiced lattes that beige people love so dang much that get me going; it’s New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Bring on the runway style, the street style, and the festivities.

I’ve voiced my concerns here, here, and here about the need to excite the viewers in the past. I urge that brands give us something new. Something so “right now.” As consumes we want to see what’s novel and fantastic. This year’s headlines are not so much about the actual clothes, but other business decisions. All anyone can talk about right now is the show-now-buy-now model being tested by some huge names.

The fashion show cycle typically went like so: Brands show a collection that will be in season six months from now. This is done so that fashion insiders - like retailers and fashion magazines - could have enough lead time to get ready. The idea being that the industry would need that time to prepare and launch the collection to the public. Thus consumers would see next year’s spring in the fall and forthcoming fall in the spring. As with many other product-oriented businesses, times have changed. Cycles have sped up and the consumer is craving it now. The thinking is why should we wait six months for clothes you’re showing us today?

The argument for showing the fall in the fall, aka: show-now-buy-now model, is that the consumers are ready to buy the clothes now and they are in season so why put off selling them? Why wouldn’t brands capitalize on the timely sensationalism? Seems straightforward, right? The retailers and advertisers can adjust their calendars and be sure to keep the collections secret (via non disclosure agreements) and away we go. Marketing the products would make more sense than the past process as it’s showing what’s in season and available. Makes it a no brainer. Also, copy cat retailers will have to adjust their production schedules which may slow them down. I’m sure that original designers would be pleased if that happens.

Brands that are trying this new model out include big fancy names like Burberry, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger. Smaller brands like Club Monaco and Thakoon are jumping on the wagon, too. The thing to watch for is if these collections sell more than they would if they showed six months ago in the old model. 

The arguments against this show-now-buy-now model are that the consumer should not be the tastemaker. Some suggest that maybe the consumers are not the ones to decide what’s fashionable or not. In the “olden days”, few fashion magazine editors and select ambassadors would help generate buzz around pieces. They would dictate what was in style. That tight knit control is no longer the case as socialites, celebrities, bloggers, and models often heavily influence what’s “in” thanks to the daily stream of gorgeousness on their social media accounts. Another concern is that if brands are too focused on satisfying consumer demands that the art of the collections may suffer. They'll go too "mainstream."

Whats the verdict?

Who really knows? Not yet at least. We have to wait and see. We’ll likely know what’s working after a few more seasons more brands decide if they, too, are shifting or if they are staying firmly put.

One other thing to mention about NYFW: Hell yes to Christian Siriano for not only casting models with racial diversity he cast body diversity too for his presentation. FINALLY. A small adjustment makes a huge, humane impact. Good for you.