Is #IWWIWWIWI Changing Fashion Week As We Know It?

15/09/2017 16:21 BST | Updated 15/09/2017 16:21 BST
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Many designers have officially stepped off the seasonal catwalk - and with London's Autumn Fashion Week happening this weekend, it's time to ask...

Is #IWWIWWIWI killing fashion week?

It may not be the most well-known hashtag, but the rise in popularity of the 'I want what I want when I want it' attitude is no secret. Shoppers don't want to fall in love with a dress and have to wait six months for it to be in season and on the rack. As a result, we're seeing the rise of "seasonless fashion" in every market and at every price point.

The #IWWIWWIWI mindset and social media have shifted consumer buying cycles. Shoppers now demand immediacy and freshness. In fact, more than half (51%) will buy an item they've seen the same day, while more than three quarters (84%) will purchase it within the same week.

As a result, traditional runway shows are no longer the most effective way to sell to customers and designers are cottoning on. Tom Ford cancelled its New York show earlier this year to adopt a 'see it now, buy it now' model, and Vetements now also shows outside of Fashion Week, delivering its range from the catwalk a month later instead.

You may have noticed the trend spreading on the high street. Topshop introduced the Topshop Unique range, working off the 'runway to retail' model, showcasing their collection at London Fashion Week with shoppers then having the ability to purchase online and via exclusive Topshop stores immediately - no waiting required. Jigsaw and Ralph Lauren have also followed suit, embracing 'see now, buy now' collections that allow shoppers to purchase the styles they see on the runway immediately. Trans-seasonal fashion is on the rise and it is completely driven by the wants and needs of the shopper.

As brands stop relying on season-based products and marketing, we are going to see more investment in areas like customer experience and mobile technology in a bid to increase responsiveness to shopper demand. The idea here is to make the time between seeing the collection and being able to buy the collection shorter - increasing relevance to the time of year and driving purchases before the desire wanes. This is especially true for luxury brands too - a recent Luxury Shopper Report found that shoppers are much more likely to shop via mobile than any other retail sector, despite this being an area where they have historically lagged behind.

Data and analytics are also starting to play a big role in connecting brands to customers, and helping them to sell in a more relevant way. For instance, take AI-enabled image recognition in social media. The photos shared on social media represent many consumer behaviours and needs. By using AI technologies, brands are able to respond appropriately, even when a post hasn't specifically mentioned a brand by name. This is really the perfect storm for those #IWWIWWIWI social media users. Imagine posting a picture of an amazing pair of shoes you saw someone wearing on Twitter and the retailer responding to let you know the fastest way to purchase them in your size.

Looking to the future, it's possible that there will be a time where Fashion Weeks will change into really consumer-focused events, such as the Victoria's Secret direct-to-the-masses fashion show since 1999. Brands also might move to a live-stream and buy, as Burberry started to do in 2009.

What I can say for certain however, is that with the trend of 'see now, buy now' here to stay, we can expect to see trans-seasonal trends evident in the London shows this year. The #IWWIWWIWI generation will be pleased to see items going live on the catwalk and online simultaneously. In short, while Fashion Week as we once knew it is changing style, the days of see and click fashion are well on their way. Because when they want what they want... they get it!