See-now-buy-now may be the most-discussed topic during New York Fashion Week. But beyond all the buzz comes a more prosaic concern: finding a place for the buying to happen.
Most of the designers who are putting their collections on sale in-season are following a straightforward strategy: As their clothing premieres on the catwalk, it will simultaneously be available for purchase in their online stores and in select brick and mortars. Adopters of see-now-buy-now — Thakoon, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford and Rebecca Minkoff, among others — went through their direct channels (their own online stores and shops) to get their newest in-season items in the hands of shoppers.
But the designers themselves aren’t the only ones hoping to cash in on a consumer-focused fashion week. Retail apps, shoppable videos, pop-up shops and Google search tools have cropped up around the collections to drive more purchases for consumers paying attention to this new, seasonal fashion show.
The timely pop-up
WME/IMG, the company behind New York Fashion Week, is hosting two pop-ups during fashion week to drive the crowds to a place where they can purchase items from multiple designer collections. Even though pop-up shops seem to be a natural, even obvious, accompaniment to the fashion week shows, this is the first time the company is hosting them. The idea got off the ground thanks to the recently increasing discussions around a consumer-driven fashion week.
“In ongoing conversations with the fashion industry, we realized there’s a need for spaces that help designers connect directly with consumers,” said Catherine Bennett, svp and managing director of IMG Fashion Events and Properties. “For designers, it’s an approach that will help drive sales during a key moment on the calendar.”
The pop ups, The Shop @ NYFW and FYI @ MADE New York, will be open throughout fashion week and will include items from designers like 69 Denim, Chromat, Alison Lou, A Peace Treaty, Lele Sadoughi and Monogram. They’re meant for designers who can’t afford to put on a blowout see-now-buy-now production à la Tommy Hilfiger, but are still hoping to drive sales during the buzz.
“A very select group of brands has the budget to compete on a level with a big show, in a big location, with shoppable product,” said Aliza Licht, the former svp of global communications for Donna Karan. “Those budgets are few and far between — for every Tommy Hilfiger, there’s a ton of smaller brands trying to build their way up.”
But the pop-up strategy isn’t only for the small players. After one season, Rihanna took her Fenty collection, made with Puma, off the runway and into a pop-up store at Six02 in midtown Manhattan. The collection also launched at Bergdorf Goodman.
“Designers with pop-ups and presentations are recognizing it’s important for their customers to understand their brands,” said Laurie DeJong, founder of LDJ Productions. “We’re seeing the switch up in the traditional because of that.”
E-commerce platforms have recognized that the see-now-buy-now circus is an opportune moment to drive traffic and sales to their mobile apps.
Spring, the marketplace that has collected 1,000-plus designer brands into its app for one-stop mobile shopping and checkout, has created a NYFW capsule within its app to guide users to the latest in-season collections delivered by designers. In its e-mail newsletter and push notifications, Spring promoted its NYFW collections by offering an “all-access pass” to the recently added clothing from designers like Rebecca Minkoff and Opening Ceremony.
Project September, the mobile shopping app launched in April by Gilt Groupe co-founder Alexis Maybank, is also embracing the direct-to-consumer nature of this season’s fashion shows. Select pieces from the latest collections from Marissa Webb, Timo Weiland, Milly and J.Crew presentations will be available to shop in the app as they go live on the runways.
“Project September is making New York Fashion Week instantly shoppable by teaming up with see now, buy now designers,” says Alexis Maybank, CEO of Project September. “We are closing the gap between seeing something on the runway or worn front row and being able to buy it immediately.”
While the app doesn’t actually conduct transactions, like Spring, its goal is to link consumer browsing for inspiration in the app to checkout pages.
Google’s new “Shop the Look” search tool turns the results of a retail-related search into a carousel of blogger and lifestyle images linked to the products they’re wearing. For fashion week, Google kicked off an experiment leading up to the new tool rollout. When someone searches fashion week, or a designer’s name, the most recent looks available for purchase from the designer appear in a carousel to shop with one tap.
“This is part of the larger trend of people-powered marketing,” said Kyle Wong, CEO of user-generated content platform Pixlee. “Products [must be] placed appropriately to easily enable consumers to discover products and shop.”