A Tommy Hilfiger catwalk show. © Press Association Images
A Tommy Hilfiger catwalk show. © Press Association Images

Fashion houses allow consumers to buy 'straight from the catwalk'

29 February 2016

Several fashion houses have announced they will make their collections available for general sale immediately after catwalk shows in a move that will “revolutionise the supply chain”.

Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger and Tom Ford will sell their latest collections in-store and online straight after shows, which are increasingly aimed at consumers as much as retail buyers.

Burberry said the change “significantly shortens the traditional gap between the runway show and retail availability”.

Tom Ford said that “in a world that has become increasingly immediate, the current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to customers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense”.

Fashion shows have traditionally been held to allow retail buyers and wholesalers to order from each collection, with members of the public then waiting months to buy products.

But now fashion shows are “aimed at the consumer as much as at the retail or wholesale buyer”, according to Susan Millin, independent fashion and retail consultant and former merchandising and product director at Reiss. She said the move was “causing quite a ripple through the industry”.

“Fashion houses will need close working relationships with all stages of their supply chains, an open dialogue with them and a good technical knowledge of the processes so they can build flexibility into the process without it having an impact on timings or cost,” she said.

“It is an opportunity to sharpen their supply chains.”

Lisa Harrington, president of lharrington group and author of a white paper, Fashion Unleashed: Supply Chain Innovation is Everything, added that there will be a greater demand for forecasting skills and fashion houses will have to get much better at predicting what products will sell well.

“They will need significant investment in relationships with their supply chain and technology to enable visibility along the supply chain,” she added.

“It will really revolutionise the supply chain. There will be savings in the long term but it will require substantial investment in the short term in tightening up the supply chain.”

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