Are Fashion Wholesale Models Still Relevant in Today's Market?
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Burberry recently announced that it will not only combine its men's and women's shows into one fashion show presented twice a year, but the collection will be available for customers to buy directly after the show. The fashion industry is imploding from this seismic shift from the traditional fashion wholesale model.
The old model follows a seasonal presentation of a brand's collection, to press and buyers, normally with a fashion show in one of the major fashion capitals. After the show, there is a period of some months before the collection is available to customers because of sales and production schedules. This model made sense when print was the industry standard and fashion shows were kept primarily to industry insiders. But now, with digital media and fast fashion, by the time a brand's seasonal collection hits the racks, it’s old news.
Runway images are normally all over the internet after each fashion week, taste-makers wear samples of the collection throughout the season, and any number of high street labels could have knocked off a similar runway style before the original makes it out of the factory floor. Consumers have seen the clothes for months before they are able to buy them, and by then, the luster has dulled on even the most hyped collections.
Most fashion houses would love to have the luxury of bypassing the normal rite of passage a seasonal collection makes, before any of it gets to a shop floor -- a sales campaign, an advertising shoot, a long press season and production. The cost of avoiding the months before the collection is available to buy, for most labels, is not feasible, as they rely on pre-selling the collection wholesale to stores before going into production.
The ramifications of Burberry's bold move will definitely be felt within the industry, but as with most major changes within fashion, such as moving online, it will be a long time until a large majority of labels step away from a wholesale model. Those businesses which can innovate now and implement the changes they need to work directly with consumers will be the ones to reap the benefits.
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