Fashion biggest brands are reflecting on commercial strategies for the 2017 seasons due to the diverse changes in fashion’s consumer behavior in the past years that have favored the aggressive mass production of fast fashion houses such as Zara, H&M and Forever 21, impelling these high end fashion brands to take reactive measures after a series of quarterly reports that show financial under-performance. The luxury consumer’s willingness to mix ready-to-wear, retail and luxury pieces has also challenged some producers, even upscale brands such as Dior and Prada face this puzzle; while others with current commercial allure, Valentino and Balenciaga to name a few, console themselves with billion dollar sales figures. Despite the individual marketing of each fashion brand, analysts are underlining what has become the key trends regarding strategic marketing and distribution changes for 2017 in the garment industry:
1. Mixed and Matched: Female and male runways unite in a single format.
From Calvin Klein announcing the merging of both genres under ‘one creative vision’, to Bottega Venega celebrating its 50th anniversary with a joint-genre runway; the design houses are working into having a solid stylistic vision opposing the quarterly-trends paraphernalia imposed by the fast fashion phenomenon, while also retaining a crucial amount of their budget. Brands are opting to combine their female and male spectacles in a context in which genre division is fading to the point of unisex or androgynous collections, including recent features of sheer fabrics and dress-long shirts in the male wardrobe. Antonio Marras, Burberry, Public School and the queen of the buzz: Vetements, are a few of the brands striving to have this kind of 2-in-1 presentation.
2. See-now, buy now: Waiting is no longer an option for the average consumer.
The wide spectrum of emerging designers and brands with trendy and avant-garde styles are already providing ‘collection’ pieces for the covetous fashionistas, this being the reason why the established brands are choosing to have their pieces available right away, immediately after display on the runway, and implementing the use of social media shopping and e-commerce technology in all kinds of devices. Some of the brands making use or increasing access to this format in 2017 will be Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Paco Rabanne and Alexander Wang, as well as Topshop in the retail arena.
3. The Ban of Social Media
Guests and celebrities constantly showcase articles in flat posts and low quality media formats, damaging the ‘heritage and prestige’ that long established fashion brands are working to protect; besides leaking the complete details of each collection on its social media reports, some attendees provide more than enough data for illegal reproductions to arise, and for the exposed trends to reach their climax and fade with the help of mass fashion, even before the collection’s official launch and availability. This particular reason is behind some brands’ decision to follow Michael Kors’ example on banning social media access on its runway and cocktail presentations, as the american luxe sport designer did on its Resort 2017 show, in the hopes of giving only a ‘sneak-peek to the consumers’ instead of ‘inundating them with the full extension of the content’ according to his press release on the matter. On the opposite side, we have brands like Wes Gordon, Nonoo and Proenza Schouler, which allow the use of exclusive social media platforms, specially those focused on visuals, in which we find Instagram and Snapchat to be preferred; all this for each collection to go viral, to be shared and added to the wishlist of the public.
Another trend still rising is the cancellation of runways in the classical Fashion Week format, a subject that now makes us witness the deceleration of runway offerings per brand, going back slowly to 2 or 3 collections per year. Some designers and directors are opting to present individual events independently, with such events being held in key cities for each company, focusing on the location’s sales and marketing relevance. Middle-reach brands are a great example of this phenomena, in which we find fashion week former favorites such as Cedric Charlier, Claire Barrow, Karen Walker and Marcelo Burlon.
These formulas are already reporting financial improvements when being customized to the needs of each fashion house, while other are clearly dependent on more complex economical situations and commercial environments. However, the “evolve or die” motto is becoming a clear guideline in the fashion industry, even to the brands who take pride in their decade long history.