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business e-commerce Editor's pick

Burberry leads see-now, buy-now fashion week charge amid tiered industry strategy

Burberry's see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week
Burberry’s see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week

When the Burberry show walked out at London Fashion Week last night, absolutely everything was available to buy for the first time. The womenswear and menswear apparel, the accessories, even the make-up was shoppable. That’s a total of 83 looks, comprising over 250 pieces. They’re being sold through Burberry’s physical and digital retail network, shipping to over 100 countries.

This shift is what’s being called “see-now, buy-now”, a lengthy phrase for what is essentially the showing of current season stock over the traditional six month timelag.

As perhaps the brand making the biggest move in terms of sheer volume of stock already produced, it was a notable occasion that had to be geared around relevancy – showcasing things one not only wanted to buy, but actually wear right away as the weather starts to draw in. For those of us seeing the collection for the first time, it worked; offering an experience that enabled us to view it as though through the eyes of the excitable consumer (heavily aided by the live orchestra and incredible Makers House setup, which is open to the public for the rest of the week). Many of us, of course, then did become the consumer too.

For others, including long-lead press, it wasn’t of course their initial viewing having had access ahead of time to see the collection in its developmental stages. Many of them commented so during the evening – noting that in some instances they’d even already shot it. And there we have a little hint as to the future of what fashion week is going to look like – an elaborate showcase, a series of consumer events, a collection instantly available to buy, and a trade audience still willing to attend even if they’ve been privy to the line during its creation process beforehand.

If you’re Burberry that is…

Burberry's see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week
Burberry’s see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week

Or perhaps if you’re Tom Ford too. Speaking ahead of his show in New York, he told Vogue: “It’s [all ready to go] at Bergdorf’s, it’s at Neiman’s. They’ve photographed it for their catalogs, they had to sign non-disclosure agreements, they couldn’t leak any pictures. So it’s done. It’s all over the world ready to go into our stores.”

Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Minkoff and Topshop Unique are all also playing with full collections available immediately, albeit largely through their own distribution channels (and in some cases, like Tom Ford, a handful of select retail partners).

The entire strategy raises concerns for many businesses otherwise – especially those who are significantly smaller, either without the budget for such extensive showcases, or heavily reliant on winning numerous wholesale partners, making the close-to-season launch less feasible. The outcome of the CFDA’s commissioned report with the Boston Consulting Group into all of this, essentially said every brand would need to look at their own situation differently and try to define where they sit within it accordingly.

Speaking at a pre-fashion week breakfast hosted by Fashion & Mash in partnership with Soho House, Clara Mercer, communications director for the British Fashion Council, largely agreed, suggesting that what we’ll see is varying strategies over the next few seasons before some kind of shape and order is pulled together to make everything clearer.

As Tom Ford said: “I don’t know if this will be sustainable. We’ll have to see. I’ll have to see how it works; see how our customers respond to it.”

Experimentation is what’s been evident throughout both New York and London so far, with many brands trying see-now, buy-now in different ways, several of them releasing just a handful of exclusive products for sale.

Tommy Hilfiger see-now, buy-now
Tommy Hilfiger teamed up with Gigi Hadid for New York Fashion Week and its version of see-now, buy-now

Take Tommy Hilfiger for instance. Hosting what was undoubtedly the most extravagant of shows during New York, complete with full-fledged carnival, it showcased a capsule collection designed in partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid. In that instance, the Hilfiger brand is capitalising on a big name collaboration in order to shift not only this limited edition stock, but the significantly broader lines it has in place all around the world. It’s not so much about numerous wholesale partnerships for this particular collection therefore, but a broader marketing move.

Michael Kors meanwhile made around a dozen products available to purchase straight away, noting ahead of the show: “We’re finding that a hybrid blend is really what works for us.”

Then there’s Alexander Wang, who previously said he wouldn’t participate in see-now, buy-now, but instead surprised his audience by introducing a collaboration with adidas Originals live at the end of the show. Nine items from that 84-piece line were immediately available to purchase the next day via trucks across New York City, and following that in London and Tokyo. The rest goes on sale, as per usual, in spring 2017.

On a smaller scale, Temperley London sold just three pieces from her new collection – a printed dress, embellished jumpsuit and embroidered top. In doing so exclusively via social app Vero, she became one of the first brands to tie together the idea of see-now, buy-now as a fashion week strategy with the trend for social commerce. (Others including Burberry again are selling pieces immediately on channels like WeChat).

And then there’s Hugo Boss, which unveiled just a single bag, the Boss Bespoke Soft, in four colours for sale immediately after its New York show. This is much in line with what Prada did in February – jumping in to the see-now, buy-now world, but only via the delivery of two handbags. And that from one of the slowest brands to the e-commerce game, having literally only launched online via Net-a-Porter this July.

Vero see-now, buy-now London Fashion Week
Blanca Padilla, Isabeli Fontana and Ana Beatriz Barros pose with Alice Temperley in the three exclusive Temperley London see-now, buy-now pieces available only on Vero

Katie Baron, head of retail, innovation and insights at Stylus, calls these variances in approach part of an understanding that a tiered system might be the outcome of such experimentation. Of note of course is the fact Burberry has long sold the odd item for immediate purchase or at least pre-order from its catwalk.

“The first wave of see-now, buy-now generated a major panic within the luxury sector because it was largely taken as read that it would force luxury businesses anchored in long lead-time, high craft to whip their collections into being at high speed, pulling them uncomfortably close to the mass market. What we’re now seeing is an understanding that see-now, buy-now needn’t be so all-encompassing, as shrewd brands release either selected, controllably limited edition pieces (see Prada) or spin-off collaborations tacked onto the main show (see Alexander Wang X adidas),” Baron explains.

“It’s effectively creating a kind of tiered system to satisfy both the need for instant gratification and possibly younger consumers looking for a way into an otherwise prohibitively expensive world. This notion of ‘tiering’ is only going to become more important as retail, overall, becomes less one-size-fits-all.”

At the other end of the scale therefore are also the brands that have changed tack entirely, opting to forego wholesale models in the main to rather sell direct-to-consumer in the right season, and thus do so at greater speed and flexibility – not to mention regularity.

In London, Matthew Williamson is one of them. Net-a-Porter remains its only retail partner, meaning that team see the line in advance, but for everyone else, it happens in real-time. The latest “Calypso” collection, for instance, went on sale just ahead of London Fashion Week this season, launching with a digital influencer event, coverage on Vogue Runway, and instant pushes to relevant e-commerce pages. For them, this is a no-brainer. Ask Rosanna Falconer, business director at the brand, as to why, and the answer is incredibly simple: consumers have never been happier.

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e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Temperley London offers see-now buy-now in exclusive Vero app tie-up

Vero
Models Blanca Padilla, Isabeli Fontana and Ana Beatriz Barros pose with Alice Temperley in the three exclusive Temperley London “see-now, buy-now” pieces available only on Vero

Temperley London teamed up with social app Vero to make three of its looks shoppable during this season’s London Fashion Week show.

A printed dress, embellished jumpsuit and embroidered top launched exclusively on the platform following last night’s event. The move makes Temperley London one of the first to tie together the idea of see-now, buy-now as a fashion week strategy together with the trend for social commerce. (Others including Burberry are selling pieces immediately on channels like WeChat).

Vero is an app designed with a relationship-first mentality. Temperley London originally partnered with it last season to take advantage of the fact it enables users to share different content to different audiences. As suggested then, Vero was planning to enable its content to be shoppable with the introduction of an in-app buy button using Apple Pay.

Said Ayman Hariri, co-founder and CEO of Vero, at the time: “Brands have taken to social networks to broadcast, communicate and connect with their fans. We felt it’s a natural place for consumers to also be able to action immediately what they see. [With our buy button], when the brand decides to sell something, they can provide the capability and convenience of doing so there and then. We’re making content actionable and purchasable, rather than just an image of a product.”

Of this latest campaign, he said: “Offering people new ways of discovering more from trusted brands and artists in an advertising free environment is a big part of what we’re trying to achieve with Vero.”

The aim of Vero is to connect brands, influencers, and their fans in meaningful ways so as to emulate real-life connections. Users have total control of what content they share and with whom. The new ‘Buy-Now’ feature enables fans to purchase items directly from their feed seamlessly and naturally.

Alice Temperley told WWD: “See-now, buy-now [will never be] tangible for certain brands that are more artisanal. You can’t just be sitting on thousands of gowns that are worth over a grand, because that’s not the nature of our business. To be able to offer something, a taste of what’s coming, is really nice. What we’ve done is picked something that’s very evening and glamorous and sequined and then a day dress and then an embroidered top. If they like the brand and are excited for the show, they can take something away there on the day.”

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e-commerce Editor's pick social media

Shoppable content rules fashion week season, with Apple, Instagram and more as partners

Burberry Womenswear February 2016 Show Finale_002

The fashion industry is undergoing significant structural change; from the way it delivers its collections, to how it promotes them to both the industry and its consumers. Where traditionally there are big time lags between fashion week shows and the products then hitting the shop floor, increasingly there’s a race to get items into the hands of shoppers as fast as possible in order to capitalize on the hype the digital era has generated.

The whole debate is an intensely complex one, from the very nature of luxury down to how it affects multi-brand retailers, traditional buyers and more. From a logistical perspective it means big changes on the back-end in terms of manufacturing and supply chain timelines. While on the front end, it also means facilitating the purchases themselves in numerous new ways.

This consumer-facing part of the debate has so far been the one most explored. As brands including Burberry through to Rebecca Minkoff have announced their intentions to move to a real-time model, meaning you can see the collection in fashion week and buy it immediately (#seebuywear), they have introduced interesting tech-enabled initiatives to facilitate it. This is about more than just e-commerce pages made live in the moment after the show, or capsule collections hitting flagship stores (even if that does include newbies like Prada), and rather some valid digital partnerships that enhance the shopping experience.

The key thing here is the shift from designers putting budget into technology for the sake of it at fashion weeks, to rather spending on something that is going to impact the business from an ROI point of view. It’s about entertainment to drive conversions; not just engagement, likes and new followers.

There’s a lot for the industry to figure out in terms of making this a viable move across the board from the operational standpoint (and as yet little clarity as to how those who have said they’re doing it are structurally making that happen), but for now, there’s at least a willingness to experiment with what it looks like for consumers.

Head over to Forbes for an outline of those moves from the likes of Burberry, Rebecca Minkoff, Misha Nonoo and Temperley London.

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Editor's pick film social media

Chatting social media strategy with #LFW designer Alice Temperley

Alice Temperley by Tomo Brejc

Temperley London has been one of several brands experimenting with Instagram’s new Hyperlapse tool this fashion week season; using it to reveal a series of behind-the-scenes insights in the run-up to today’s show.

There’s been a post of a fitting session with a model (as below), as well as a quick looks at final tweaks to the collection.

We spoke to creative director Alice Temperley, MBE, about the role video plays in her wider social media strategy, her thoughts on the staying-power of Hyperlapse, and how important all-things visual are to the fashion industry.

Q: How central is video to a brand like Temperley London?

AT: The digital strategy at Temperley London is getting more and more play time; video being a key part of a wider content strategy. I want to be able to take our viewers on an interactive journey that is 100% in line with our brand’s beauty and creativity, and British heritage, which I am so proud of.

A recent example of this is our “White Magic” film, which we produced over the summer exclusively for Net-a-Porter.com. It was shot at my home in Somerset, where I grew up, and featured some of my closest friends wearing some of our decadent dresses.

Q: Where do you see social media within your marketing activity, is it a growing part of the brand?

AT: Yes absolutely, it’s an ever-growing part of the brand’s development and will remain a focus for us in 2015. [We’re] understanding how our social followers are reacting to content on each individual channel and ensuring we are targeting each with a different and relevant strategy.

Visual is key: Instagram, Pinterest in particular. I love photography and really enjoy being part of the creative process and personally engaging with my followers on Instagram.

Q. Where does Instagram fit within the wider scheme of your strategy?

AT: It’s the only channel I personally manage myself. I love it. It allows for a different perspective and I enjoy reading people’s comments.

Q: What’s your overall opinion on the value of a tool like Hyperlapse for fashion? Does it have longevity? 

AT: Anything that expresses someone’s creativity will have longevity and a voice. Timelapse has been used for years, but the ability to do it on your mobile and in real-time has brought this concept to life.

Q: What all can we expect in terms of behind-the-scenes access with you for fashion week?

AT: An insight into my days in the lead up to the show – [it] may not be what people expect – hopefully people can live the excitement with me and be a part of the journey.

http://instagram.com/p/s0UJ8YhpYZ

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e-commerce Editor's pick film

Temperley London, Net-a-Porter and Cinematique team up on shoppable film experience

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Shoppable films are still on the rise following the launch of a Levi’s version last week, and now another by Temperley London in partnership with Net-a-Porter.

The UK-based designer has revealed a short film on the e-commerce site referred to as an ‘enchanting summer party’ and titled White Magic. It was shot by Henry Temperley (brother to designer Alice Temperley) in Somerset, England, and features models and muses including Anouck Lepère, Caroline Issa, Jacquetta Wheeler, Jade Parfitt, Laura Bailey and Padma Lakshmi.

As it plays, the viewer is able to click on any items they like the look of to save them into a personal boutique, thanks to technology from US platform Cinematique. The film keeps playing throughout, enabling a continuous, uninterrupted experience.

A small symbol bottom right of the frame shows how many items have been ‘saved’. That can be clicked at any time to enter a right hand slider panel showcasing each piece – the still from the video is shown to help the user recall what they chose, but can then be opened to view full e-commerce shots of the product as well as editor’s comments about it.

Each piece can also be shared over social media, and of course purchased on the Net-a-Porter site. Users can alternatively click on ‘shop the video’ to be redirected to a full gallery of everything featured.

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“Our exclusive collaboration with Cinematique came about very organically, during a recent trip to New York,” Temperley told WWD. “The digital, technical and creative vision between all of us worked from the very beginning, and it felt like the perfect collaboration. We’re doing something innovative and groundbreaking, but also really fun.”

Ulrik Garde Due, CEO of Temperley London, added: “The consumer wants authentic storytelling in an innovative and entertaining manner. Thanks to… Cinematique, viewers can emotionally connect with Alice Temperley’s magical world while shopping the film.”

Certain ‘hot spots’ within the film also activate extra content such as details on the party, a history of the house, outtakes and behind-the-scenes imagery (some of which is shown below), shot by the designer’s sister Matilda Temperley. Those assets can likewise be saved and shared via Cinematique,

Importantly, the film works on desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

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