Dezeen Magazine

Burberry to sell fashion collections straight from the catwalk

Business news: British fashion label Burberry has announced its collections will be available to purchase straight after they are shown on the runway, as opposed to the typical four-month delay. 

As of September, all of the clothes featured in Burberry's runway shows will be available to buy immediately both in store and online, overturning a seasonal schedule that has governed the industry for decades.

The brand, which was among the first to live-stream its fashion shows to an online audience, also plans to cut back from four catwalk shows a year to two.

The collections will be called February and September rather than the industry standards Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.

Burberry chief creative director Christopher Bailey said that this reflected the international market the brand was selling to.

"We're a global company. When we stream that show, we're not just streaming it to people who live in spring and summer climates; we're doing it for all different climates," he told US fashion industry title Womens Wear Daily. "I guess we're trying to look both creatively and pragmatically at this."

Burberry to sell its collections straight from the catwalk
Christopher Bailey said making collections available straight after shows feels like a natural step

The announcement follows the brand's decision in November to fold its various collections, including Prorsum, Brit and London, bringing them under the single Burberry label.

"It just feels like a natural next step," Bailey told industry news site Business of Fashion. "But it takes time. You've got to work things through. This obviously will have a big impact on our supply chain, but in terms of the design and the creative process, it's actually less radical than it might seem."

Burberry is the first of the major international fashion labels to attempt to move into showing and selling its collections within the same season.

Autumn and winter clothes are usually shown during fashion weeks in February or March, and spring and summer in September and October.

The delay between the show and the season gives the labels time to fulfil orders from fashion buyers at stores, who decide what their customers might be interested in based on reactions to the catwalk shows.

It also means that customers have to wait months between seeing something they like on the catwalk and being able to own it.

Stores have also traditionally stocked clothes slightly ahead of season, with winter coats often available months before the cold weather kicks in.

However, many have already shifted their stocking policies in response to both changing weather patterns and a demand from customers who want to buy seasonal clothing.

The unusually warm winters in the UK and US this year also had a serious knock-on effect on sales of winter clothing, prompting some brands to look for ways to cut down production times to be more responsive.

Burberry to sell its collections straight from the catwalk
Burberry has its flagship store in London, but now sells to an international market

Other high-end designers are also beginning to reconsider the traditional show schedule.

Last month, British designer Giles Deacon decided to show his collection during Paris couture week in July as supposed to London's ready-to-wear fashion week in September to better accommodate his customers.

"With couture, it means I get to show fall in July, with delivery in September. My clients will be getting their pieces in season," he told Womens Wear Daily.

Other London designers including Marios Schwab and Matthew Williamson have quit the fashion weeks schedule altogether, and instead operate through showroom appointments with in-season deliveries.

Burberry was founded in 1856 by 21-year-old dressmaker Thomas Burberry. The brand is most famous for its trench coat and distinctive tartan pattern, which has become one of its most widely copied trademarks.

Under Bailey, the brand has become known for its innovative approach to digital retail. It already offers customers the chance to pre-order clothes from its live-streamed shows, and in 2011 it launched Burberry Bespoke, which allows fashionistas to customise the iconic trench coat.

All images are courtesy of Burberry, unless stated otherwise.

Update: as of September 2016, Tommy Hilfiger will stage consumer-targeted fashion shows, with full collections instantly available for sale.