Investing in the age of 'see now, buy now'
I've been having quite a difficult time with fashion lately. From the mass production model of high street stores to the fashion immediacy model, more commonly known as 'see now, buy now', that many luxury brands have adopted, fashion has become saturated with product and imagery. No matter where you look or which platform you subscribe to, we're being bombarded with coats, dresses, sneakers, heels, bags, accessories, basically everything, at lightning speed – and I can't keep up. I simply don’t have the time to look at every single post by a brand, especially when the same images are utilised on multiple channels.
It’s already public knowledge that many high street stores and large retailers have similar styles (what many deem as ‘direct copies’) of luxury brands’ designs – often before the designer items are available to the public. And while some brands have taken these stores to court, most of them don’t for two reasons: there isn’t much copyright law that protects clothing designs specifically and it’s a costly exercise. A lot of brands are also afraid that consumers, particularly millennials and those that have been raised in the age of technology, are in constant search of the next ‘new’ item.
So to counteract the theft of their designs, the loss of profit and the perpetuated fear of losing consumers to something more new and shiny, many designers have taken to the ‘see now, buy now’ model. Luxury brands such as Burberry, Moschino and Tommy Hilfiger have all presented collections that were immediately shoppable online.
Which I suppose is terrific because as a consumer, you won’t have to wait six months for a collection to reach stores, while brands retain some hegemony over their designs as mass-production companies are unable to copy the items then ship before the original designs have even hit shop floors.
The only problem, for me at least, is that to retain a longer commercial value, brands then bombard us with endless imagery and product information for months on end. So how is it different to the old system where constant exposure and endorsement meant consumers saw the same imagery anyway?
For one, there are a lot more channels for brands to disseminate their message, whether that message is to buy, to spread awareness or to simply build a relationship. But it also means the same message is distributed across multiple channels – in magazines, on websites, via the radio and television, and on social media.
And while this is highly important (how else would you get your message to consumers and ensure your product sells?), it also means your audience will eventually become bored of seeing the same thing over and over again. Even with Instagram’s new algorithm that shows posts I may have missed, I still find myself scrolling past images from accounts I voluntarily followed. Not because I don’t like their content; because I’m tired of seeing the same content.
So what’s the solution? Well, brands have already started by offering 'customised services' – personalised clothing, unique experiences et al. – via their brick-and-mortar stores. And while this is amazing (because hey, who wouldn’t want a customised jacket bearing their name?), it isn’t enough to keep an audience happy. The content being disseminated also needs to be relevant and interesting – otherwise we millennials will simply hit that Unfollow button.
Having worked in media, researched digital media and spoken to colleagues in the industry, I think brands should start creating content specific to each platform and its audience. After all, the middle-aged mom with four kids that loves scrolling through Facebook is not the same as the twenty-something career woman who shops from her Instagram feed. Finding out who your audience is on each platform and then creating content for their needs will retain a loyal following and possibly even increase the return on investment, whatever your end goal.
And once you know the type of content your audience enjoys, you can keep feeding them more of it (mind you, in small doses) without the fear of losing them to something new. Because, in my experience, a brand that offers less in terms of output but more in quality is something worth investing my time and money in.
Image 1: Zainab wears: The Bridal Edit dress, stylist’s own shirt, H&M jacket and Prada sunglasses. Lindy wears: H&M top and trousers, and model’s own necklace
Image 2: Puma top, model’s own blazer and Prada sunglasses
Images 3 and 4: Puma bralette, H&M jacket and trousers, Prada sunglasses and model’s own ring
Images 5 & 6: Lindy wears: Puma bralette, H&M jacket and trousers, Prada sunglasses, and model’s own ring and boots. Zainab wears: H&M dress, model’s own vest and headband, Prada sunglasses, and Jeffrey Campbell boots
Image 7: Stylist’s own jacket, model’s own headband and Prada sunglasses
Image 8: H&M top and trousers, and model’s own necklace
Images 9 & 10: The Bridal Edit dress and Prada sunglasses
Image 11: Zainab wears: The Bridal Edit dress, stylist’s own shirt, H&M jacket and Prada sunglasses. Lindy wears: H&M top and trousers, and model’s own necklace
Photography: Rizqua Barnes
Photography assistants: Sam Samaai and Mohammed Hoosain
Styling: Chandre Mophethe and Zainab SvR
Beauty: Lindy Lin and Megan Wridgway
Models: Zainab SvR and Lindy Lin
Location: Wembley Superette