According to new research, consumers are now looking to buy what they need only when they need it. The old adage of ‘be prepared’ has been tweaked and rephrased to ‘only be prepared at the very last minute’ or what the food industry are calling the ‘need it now’ phenomenon. The ‘now generation’ has been here for quite some time and to most this means getting what you want right now (even if you can’t afford it): it has rarely manifested itself as ‘only buying what you need’. Fashion had so far sidestepped this frugality – until now.
Where women used to buy outfits because they wanted them on the basis that one day they will wear them, they now shop to order for specific occasions, buying only what they will use when they will use it. This enormous departure from the traditional fashion cycle is causing retailers to rethink their marketing strategies and for the fashion world to debate the future of the broken fashion cycle.
The old cycle had us happy to order our winter clothes in the hot sticky heat of summer and choose our swim wear when the snow was falling. Can this really be replaced with catwalk shows and trends that emerge as we are ready to wear them? Where will this leave the early adopters who take so much pleasure in looking months into the future? Is it not also so deeply uncreative to think about now, now?
Interestingly this just-in-time consumerism is increasing sales (as the social calendar never sleeps) and therefore doesn’t look likely to abate. E-retailers such as Net-a-Porter.com are best placed to react to this instant access approach and are changing their production and selling schedules to accommodate them. The high street will have a harder time reacting to this as the lead time for fashion exists for a reason.
We could all be witnessing the democratization of fashion – a world where we the consumer decides what we want. In other words the beginning of the end.
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