The fashion calendar can be confusing at the best of times. Autumn/Winter collections shown in February hit stores in August, in the height of summer. Spring/Summer collections shown in September, go into store in chilly February. And then we bring in pre-Fall and resort shows, with the former being shown in December and January and the later in May and June. Still with us? It can boggle the minds of the most ardent of fashion insiders and yet the rigmarole continues, season after season.
Which leads us to ask – what is the point of pre-Fall and Resort shows? Do they sell? And wouldn’t it just be simpler to lump them into the SS or AW collections?
Traditionally pre-Fall and Resort/Cruise collections would cater to two different customers types. Firstly, the high-flyers and jetset who holiday in Southern Hemisphere destinations. Type two is the hardcore fashion fanatic who pounces upon every new release from their favourite designer. The collections are down-played by magazines, who can’t fit them into their reportage and so largely, aren’t traditionally talked about by consumers.
And yet, when we start looking into the sales data we begin to see a very different picture. Pre-Fall and Resort collections sell, and in some cases, better than their mainline compatriots. We compared drops of Resort 12 with AW 11/12 lines at one retailer to get the clearest picture; Net-a-Porter. The success stories include Roksanda Ilincic, whose £1090 silk-blend crepe gown from Resort 12 dropped instore at Net-a-Porter on the 24th December. It was sold out in 3 sizes 12 days later. Not bad going? Compare this to the biggest success story at Net-a-Porter from her AW11/12 collection – the £1280 Darter wool crepe dress, which sold out in two of its five sizes in six weeks. The stock levels of the AW11/12 collection will be higher, but a 18-day sell out of a Resort product is still very newsworthy.
Then look to Acne, whose £550 Lillian taffeta gown from Resort dropped nine days ago. It was sold out in two sizes three days later. All this in a period renowned for its sales. Their AW11/12 sold rapidly too – but didn’t trump Resort. Their Emile silk one-shouldered dress at £380 sold out within a week of its five sizes dropping. Similar story for Alexander Wang at Net-a-Porter, whose colour-block knitted sweater at £355 sold out in three sizes in three weeks and has since been restocked. Compare that to a pale pink Angora sweater from the AW collection, priced at £440, which dropped on the 16th August and didn’t sell out in all three sizes until the 3rd December. Again, we mustn’t let stock levels mislead us, but the data still points to the conclusion that consumer demand for mid-season collections runs high.
Michael Kors is no stranger to this concept and he knows a thing or two about business. His company’s listing on the stock market in December attracted more attention than expected – selling $4billion shares and with share value leaping 33%. So when he refuses to use the terminology ‘resort’ or ‘pre-fall’ and instead opts for ‘New Drop’, you listen. What Kors has latched onto, and what Net-a-Porter’s sales figures show is that there is much consumer demand for mid-season product. The importance of these ‘new drops’ to retailers should not be down-played – they offer new, full priced stock when other stock is being discounted. This fits in perfectly with how we’re seeing the fashion industry change. With seasonality coming into question, and with the drive to fill the buy-it-now demand that brands like Burberry can generate, brands have to become more reactional and produce new product more seamlessly.
This can work in their favour. By manufacturing throughout the year, and by keeping communication channels with buyers open year-round, their processes may actually speed up. Add to this the more constant cash flow and ears prick up. Our advice? Drop the terminology that baffles consumers. Generate more drops, and call them just that.
Update 1st Feb: We initially reported that the Roksanda Ilincic silk-crepe gown from the Resort 12 collection sold out in 18 days, when the garment in fact sold out in just 12 days. This is an error on our part, which has now been corrected and we would like to apologise for any confusion caused.