Amidst the revelation that Burberry are set to revamp the way they conduct their fashion shows, one huge question is left in the balance. What is the effect of a complete flaunt of the runway’s archetypal rules on everybody else? From fashion buyers, to retailers, to the press – how will things change, and is it possible for other designers to follow in suit of Burberry, or better yet, should they?
In a recent announcement, the British fashion house revealed that they will be radically shifting their runway tactics. Out with the gender differentiated runways, and in with the combined men’s and women’s presentations. This feasible (and not so revolutionary) shake-up is given another twist, with plans to reject the standard annual fashion show schedule and instead present two annual shows, the items from which will be available to purchase both instore and online immediately after the show.
Burberry’s radical short-circuiting of standard fashion debates, and their alternative approach of directly rebooting the current runway format, could be the fuel to the fire as the designers, retailers and buyers debate over the future of fashion in the digital age culminates.
In a world where everyone can watch the fashion shows from the comfort of their own homes it poses the question: why wait so long between seeing the collection, and buying it? Why stimulate inspiration, but withhold it for 6 months?
The need to rejuvenate the fashion-show construct is something that has long been part of a fashion fissure, with Diane von Furstenberg in December conceding that “We have designers, retailers and everybody complaining about the shows.”
Although change is being advocated, is Burberry’s approach viable for everyone? It has been done before with Moschino and Versace experimenting with small capsule collections, and allows the time between seeing and buying the collection to be reduced.
It also means that the universal social-media hype surrounding fashion shows can be capitalised on, giving live streams an even greater degree of excitement and purchasing incentive for regular customers.
However, the reveal-and-sell approach has its limits. In a creative process where the production of an item must go through a complex design and supply chain, the shorter the time between reveal and delivery runs the threat on compromising on quality.
The danger of fashion fatigue is also present; will international buyers and press still be motivated to attend a show without that air of exclusivity? And what are the practical implications for traditional print press, will there be time for magazine fashion editors to style and shoot looks?
The idea of fashion house’s presenting the current season’s collection for immediate purchase has the attractive façade of relative simplicity. Why wait when you can immerse in the moment?
However, it’s increasingly clear that such an attractive quality isn’t sustainable for all, and whilst we’re incredibly excited by the prospect of immediate fashion-gratification, we can’t help but wonder if it will have a positive (or negative) domino effect…