Last season designers toyed with the notion of ‘see now buy now’ in a bid to shake up the fashion system and promote a more sustainable approach to how consumers shop.

Brands such as Parisian label Vetements hinted at the probable shakeup of the system proposing a new solution that would see their menswear and womenswear offerings combined into two annual collections shown in the ‘pre-seasons’ January and June. The outcome of this was to shorten the lead-time between consumers seeing the collections and them becoming available in store and online compressing the whole runway to shop process into a matter of weeks rather than months.

Rather than placing the power with those at the helm of the fashion industry, notably the press and buyers, the see now buy now model places control with the consumers. But why the sudden change now? Two notable reasons spring to mind. First and foremost: the weather. With unreliable and often erratic weather patterns there are no longer seasons per se. Likewise, depending on what part of the hemisphere you live in dictates the weather making seasons within the fashion industry obsolete.

Secondly it would be ignorant to bypass the effect of the Internet, and in particular, social media. The Internet has created a culture of consumers in desire of immediate gratification, from live-streaming shows to using tools such as Snapchat to preview collections, consumers are privy to a world that was once dominated by press and buyers. These global audiences want fashion and they want it now.

culture of consumers

In the midst of the SS17 Fashion Weeks we can see the start of this seismic shift, designers opting for a more streamlined runway and retail calendar, with online retailers quick to follow suit. Designers are responding to consumers need for instant fashion and attempting to rival fast fashion companies such as Boohoo, Zara and H&M, offering high-end clothing as quickly as possible.

At New York Fashion Week Tom Ford created a cinemascope, where images from the show were edited and uploaded live from the catwalk, his collection available instantly online and in stores. Club Monaco took a slightly different approach, opting to showcase both men’s and women’s lines together, made available straight after the show. Banana Republic has taken their approach in another different vein by partnering with blogger and influencer Olivia Palmero who is the brand’s global style ambassador. Their collection became available online immediately after their NYFW presentation.

Here in the UK, the style-centric hub of London is also looking to shake up the system. Topshop plans to make half of its SS17 collection available to buy online after their London Fashion Week showcase, the other half becoming available to purchase come November.

While the see-now buy-now model obviously has its appeal, there is the very real threat to creativity. Whilst obvious planning goes into catwalk shows, there is the risk that designer’s spontaneous creations will become a thing of the past. With designers looking to target a new generation of consumers, their thoughts are likely to turn to generating sales rather than their off-kilter creations.

Logistically speaking there is much still to consider with the ‘see-now buy-now’ model and one which designers, buyers, press and the public will all dictate and watch take shape.