What Is the Future of Fashion? Re-think, Re-structure, Re-flect

Twice a year, the fashion world takes the place of the main news all over the media, and so it was in September this year. Especially during the latest fashion week, one question was addressed once again; is the fashion system really completely in the hands of the fashion industry?

The criticism of fashion as fairly one-way process has been slowly brought into question due to an increasingly present concept of ‘see now, buy now’. So far, during the month of fashion shows, the unwritten rule has been that the designer represents a collection for the next season. However, in the last fashion week, or rather fashion month in September, attention was paid especially to Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger fashion shows which represented fall/winter collections that could be bought right off the runway. Many other fashion brands represent their capsule collections or individual products similarly and many of them have also announced similar plans for the following seasons. The most important question that we should pose at this point is, why is the fashion system changing ‘the game’ and consequently rebutting the traditional fashion calendar?

Today’s consumer has changed his or her personal values, requirements, expectations which consequently modified his or her behaviour. Millennials always search for something ‘fresh’ and want to be the first to have the newest item. When they click on the heart on Instagram, they want to have the selected piece of clothing in their closets immediately, so they can put it on display in the streets of London, New York, Shanghai and other globalised cities. Brands of fast fashion offer around twenty collections per year to the millennial consumer and the consumer-centred fashion industry has forced fashion designers and fashion brands to rethink their system. The consumer wants to have the new Burberry coat, Prada bag, Michael Kors sunglasses right after they appear on the runway. The traditional fashion calendar is passé and does not meet the demands of today’s consumption. It is hard to remember what was presented six months ago, if there are so many new pieces of clothing, jewellery, and accessories offered on the Internet every minute. This constant desire for ‘fresh’ content is to a large extent a consequence of the digital era, since the current technology enables us to experience everything immediately.

At first sight, the experimental mode of ‘see now, buy now’ has been slowly transforming into a more and more common straight-to-consumer action. When deciding to restructure its system to ‘see now, buy know’ and to make it its initial business, a fashion brand has to be aware of the big transition, otherwise its existence can be seriously endangered. A fashion brand has to cope with many practical issues and has to reorganize the production process and consequently find new manufacturers due to a faster production schedule. It has to restructure its costs, timelines, funding structures, and transport system to ensure the availability of its products ‘fresh’ off the runway.  Not only does it have to change the entire production process, but it also has to change the presentation of the collection. The six-month period, a period during which fashion brands try to instill the desire in consumers to gradually start coveting particular product appearing in fashion magazines and in other media that is coming on shelves in a few months, is over. At September’s fashion weeks, the vast majority of fashion shows were streamed live. Consumers all over the world could ‘join live’ from their sofa and after the show they could already shop the most desired products over the Internet.

What we have concluded during the autumn fashion week is that the ‘see now, buy now’ concept is the latest example of a revolution in the fashion industry. The spirit of fashion reflects in society and the spirit of society reflects in fashion itself. Their reflections in one another are the key for understanding each other. The traditional six-month model seems old-fashioned and is no longer in line with today’s capitalist economy, with today’s consumers, their desires and demands. We may only speculate whether the ‘see now, buy now’ will become the dominant model or whether it will be transformed into something yet to come, but one thing is clear: the fashion system needs to (be) re-structure(d).


/ Text: Tajda Hlačar

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