From runway to closet. We need to cement the new immediacy of fashion collections
Instant gratification. The need to have your desires fulfilled right here and right now. This condition is the reason we have our tea while it’s piping hot, finish our popcorn before the movie is over, cheat on partners, give up on gym after just a week of not seeing results, pick the same day delivery option, buy items of clothing without trying them on and use acronyms like ASAP at the end of texts and emails.
The twenty first century is a hellish rat race for everyone – young and old. We can barely keep up with our own lives, let alone hot-off-the-runway fashion trends. I have often read magazines where something caught my eye in a fashion spread, but by the time I had reached the store, it had already been sold out. That right there is consumer power and it is a phenomenon that now goes beyond your local boutique, but has now started to give new meaning to runway shows.
The traditional runway-to-store model of retail was that of exhibiting a fashion house’s new collection at a runway show either at a fashion week or at an exclusive reveal. These collections would then be distributed to stores about six months later. What this means is that potential buyers have always had to wait a certain period of time before parting with their money for a glamorous up-to-the-minute piece of haute couture, thereby hindering the feeling of instant gratification. The new wave is that of availing the garments for purchase straight off the runway.
By straight off runway it is not meant that there is a blogger sitting at the front row, waiting for a model to take off a designer dress, so she can take it home with her after the show.
What straight off the runway means is that the collection showing on the runway is made available online and in stores at the same time as the picturesque models strut down the ramp (perhaps not as immediate in some cases, but on the same day).
At face value this mode of retail is innovative and convenient, but it is throwing a few spanners in the works of the fashion industry.
Christopher Bailey of Burberry confirmed that they are doing away with the traditional “autumn/winter” and “spring/summer” season titles in order to cement the new immediacy of fashion collections. Burberry is availing their collections online and in store without waiting for the six month seasonal grace period. Moschino and Versace have proven triumphant in their first attempts at this process.
The reason this new approach has worked smoothly in its fledging stages is that for a very long time, fashion enthusiasts have seen celebrities in designer pieces long before they can even think of getting their hands on the same items. Because celebrities are so often heralded as fashion icons and muses, the ability to emulate their style (or at least their stylists’ style) has now been placed within arm’s reach.
We witnessed this phenomenon earlier in 2016 when Rihanna posted a selfie on Twitter in which she was wearing Dolce & Gabbana’s Napa leather rhinestone headphones, which were on the runway in early 2015 for Dolce & Gabbana. These headphones were first seen on the runway on a model, but only several months later did they create a stir big enough to be sold out the very next day after a celebrity was seen donning them.
Tom Ford shared with Dazed how too much time and money is invested in the inception of each collection for it to only be made available to the ordinary consumer months later.
Tom Ford is also among the designers who have adopted this consumer practice of having your emerald cape takeaway with a side of embellishments.
The current fashion climate is that of fast fashion – perusing the menu and ordering the only thing on it that you have never tried just so you can say you did it. What this takeaway analogy alludes to is that making the garments accessible right off the runway may put fashion enthusiasts under pressure to purchase items they have not yet fallen in love with, but the exclusive and elitist nature of runway shows may dictate that one purchases something right away. This is that ‘limited edition’ psyche that consumers often fall prey to, where the need to stand out motivates an individual’s decision. Of course, any fashionista will tell you that owning items from limited editions definitely has its perks and usually creates the platform to open a fashion conversation, but it can be misconstrued as a tactic to merely churn out fashion at a high price rather than selling works of sartorial art.
The argument some have made is that the line between fast fashion and slow fashion has now been blurred and this is a line that was necessary in order to make the distinction between a retail outlet and a high-end fashion house clear.
The former serves the purpose of appeasing one’s desires temporarily, while the latter is meant to maintain a fashion hierarchy. There is definitely no harm in being the first to own an exclusive designer item, but there is regret in owning something that does not compliment your closet. Perhaps the point is not for your closet to remain a comfort zone in the first place – the fashion industry is infamous for its frivolity after all.