A flurry of fashion designers this year announced their intent to embrace a see-now-buy-now system, from Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger to Burberry and Rebecca Minkoff, pledging to show collections that will be immediately available for purchase.
However, high-end e-etailer Moda Operandi has been making the runway shoppable for years, albeit in a slightly different way.
Since its launch in 2011 as an online trunk show where fashion lovers could preorder looks straight from the catwalk collections of top designers months before they were available anywhere else, Moda has carved out a path that puzzled pundits at first, but quickly began to compete with the luxury retailers of the world.
But now that so many designers are hopping on a similar bandwagon, is the New York-based e-commerce company worried? Not at all, said Keiron McCammon, chief technology officer.
“Why buy luxury if you can make it in 24 hours? That’s not what luxury is about. You can’t make it all and if you’re going to make it in 24 hours I’m not going to want to buy it,” he shrugged, speaking recently at the American Apparel and Footwear Association’s (AAFA) Executive Summit in Washington, D.C.
Moda’s customers secure their purchase with a 50 percent deposit and pay the remainder when their pre-ordered clothes are delivered a few months later.
“That’s not traditional e-commerce. That’s not even traditional consumer buying activity,” he said, pointing out that 1 percent of the company’s clients account for 10 percent of its sales. “We’re bringing the runway to the consumer at the same time the retail buyers are looking at the trends they want to carry in the stores.”
He continued, “How do you take the runway, collections that we’ve never seen before—that don’t yet exist other than being manufactured for that runway event—how do you take that and produce three to four runway events on our website every day through an eight-week period, having them on the website in a matter of hours? It’s faster than fast fashion yet we’re dealing with luxury product. We’re not trying to innovate like Zara.”
By comparison, the new see-now-buy-now model means showing styles at the same time they’re available for purchase, instead of six months out.
“I don’t think it impacts Moda’s business, but I think it’s an interesting change to the industry,” McCammon said. “The idea of giving the consumer a choice, in some ways, we’re leading the way. Ultimately the fashion seasons are still happening. We’re just allowing the consumers to see them way earlier.”