Is “See Now, Buy Now” for the Emerging Designer?

“See Now, Buy Now” has been a hot topic in the fashion industry for some time now. It’s the idea that products should be available for purchase as soon as they are seen on the runway or at a presentation.

For some designers, this strategy has worked well as it capitalizes on the hype of the collection at its peak, for other brands, it has been more of a burden than an effective marketing plan. The big question for AMCONYC is: “is ‘see now, buy now’ the strategy for the emerging designer?”

“See now, buy now” is a strategy that has been around for a while, but it recently gained popularity due to the increased presence of fast-fashion brands. Traditionally, when a fashion house would put on a show, they had months after a show to make all of the garments that were going to go to stores, run ad campaigns, and prepare for the next show; nowadays, fast fashion has made that much harder for higher end ready-to-wear labels as fast-fashion brands such as H&M & Zara are able to crank out designs very similar to the runway designs in half the time for under half the price. This has put a lot of pressure on fashion houses to make clothing available much sooner than before and has put even more pressure on their ateliers and manufacturers.

For some brands, Tommy Hilfiger, in particular, has made ‘see now, buy now’ work the best thus far. Utilizing celebrity influence (Gigi Hadid’s fame is a powerful thing these days). Having two huge shows in Los Angeles of all places, Tommy Hilfiger has been able to create huge spikes in online activity and initial sales of items that were showcased, according to Business of Fashion. Though Tommy Hilfiger stores are still rolling with the same punches other brands are going through with decreasing physical store visits, the brand has been able to use instant gratification to its advantage lately.

Other brands have not seen as much success, however. Notably, Tom Ford and Thakoon have both adopted the strategy and are moving away from it as it doesn’t seem to be the best bet. Thakoon was launched with a ‘see now, buy now’ strategy with hopes of bring quality items to the consumers sooner, rather than later; however, this seems to have backfired for the brand who is taking a pause according to Thakoon himself and the company backing his label, Bright Fame Fashion.

The difference between the brands that can make it work and the ones who would rather leave it alone? Business of fashion says that its due mainly to brand awareness and resources. Thakoon had a decent amount of brand awareness with a lot invested in marketing, however, the two didn’t match up well. The opposite can be said about Tom Ford which has significant brand awareness, however, the amount made following the show still didn’t match the amount invested initially. Tommy Hilfiger, on the other hand, has both brand awareness and a tremendous amount of resources to be able to play the game and roll with any punches that may come with it.

So, what about the emerging designer? Is “see now, buy now” a great strategy when your brand is still in the introduction and growth stages? Perhaps an alternative is a better way.

Two brands who have significantly different approaches that seem to do well for themselves are Vetements and Supreme. Supreme is a brand that has been around for quite some time and has a strong, almost cult, following. Vetements, on the other hand, is relatively new but has been gaining recognition at an outstanding rate. Supreme prefers to do what can be called “drops” where it works behind the scenes to develop, design, and market their latest collection, then soon after the collection is unveiled, it is ready to be purchased. Vetements takes an almost more traditional approach that makes a lot of sense. Rather follow the typical RTW fashion calendar, Vetements does its shows during Paris Haute Couture season, this allows them time to have clothing prepared and ready to buy around times when sales are highest for clothing in general.

Judging by established brands triumphs and tribulations with ‘see now, buy now’, it would seem to be that there is no one correct way of selling and marketing in today’s fashion world. It all depends on a brand-to-brand basis. As an emerging designer, one would have to pay close attention to the brand’s following, how much room they have for marketing, consumer’s spending habits, and most importantly, the brand’s production capability. Even though fast-fashion has sparked the flame that is ‘see now, buy now’ it is still important to remember that fast-fashion brands have supply chains that are enormous. Quality takes time, but time is money. So, is ‘see now, buy now’ right for your brand?

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