In a previous post published a long time ago, we mentioned fashion brands moving their presentations from one capital to the other in search of the perfect market. We compared this financial restlessness to the boredom and vigorous lassitude - in Latin strenua inertia - that, Roman poet Horace recounted, pushed the rich Romans to hurry to their country houses because they were bored with life in the city, only to get bored with the country life and go back to the city shortly afterwards. The feelings generated by strenua inertia seem to linger like ominous ghosts on the fashion industry and were evoked back on the scene by some recent news regarding Tom Ford.
After recently releasing the images of his Spring 2017 collection, Ford announced he was abandoning the "see-now-buy-now" model he had decided to adopt last September. Besides, he also announced he will be on the official New York Fashion Week calendar come September with a Spring 2018 collection.
Worried about the competition in Paris, bored maybe about Milan (where he will keep on showing his menswear designs anyway) and unhappy about the results he was getting in London, a city that is still struggling to get on a par with the other fashion capitals and that may generate new problems once the effects of Brexit really kick in, Ford also stated he will be moving his women's atelier to Los Angeles (at the old Regen Projects gallery) from London where he will instead keep his men's design studio.
According to the designer's statements he is dropping out of the "see-now-buy-now" schedule since the industry isn't ready, or rather it is not aligned for it. Ford explained indeed that his collection arrived in the shops in July, but had to be kept under wraps till the day after his September presentation.
This meant he lost quite a bit of time while other designers who had shown their Autumn/Winter collections in February were selling them in August already. Besides, while there was a lot of media revenue about Ford at the very beginning and he registered an initial shopping frenzy, things quietened down later on.
The "see now, buy now" model may be working for big brands such as Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, fashion labels that have big store networks, or for fashion labels who seem to churn out every few months a limited selection of products (see Moschino and its manifold yet dubious capsule collections...). Yet Ford has got to deal with a different infrastructure, that is department stores and independent retailers, like Thakoon, another designer who decided to abandon the "see-now- buy-now" business model.
When the "see-now-buy-now" model was first announced many jumped on the bandwagon thinking it was the new era of fashion, but, for the time being, it remains a confusing system that will keep on generating further gaps between bigger and more powerful fashion houses and smaller ones (maybe we should call it the "see now, bye now" model...). Maybe the key to save the industry (as highlighted in a previous post in which we analysed in-depth the "see-now- buy-now" frenzy) is educating consumers to desire a high quality, timeless designer product and wait for it to be produced, rather than telling them they can buy it now, wear it immediately and start loathing it in less than six months' time.