While the CFDA has announced plans to reevaluate New York Fashion Week's current system in order to make it a more consumer-friendly event, some brands aren't waiting for the Council's conclusions to maximize sales during February's fall 2016 shows. Rebecca Minkoff, for one, is radically changing her format: She will present her spring 2016 collection again through a "fully immersive fashion show" experience with shoppers, influencers and media in attendance, while simultaneously showing the fall season to buyers and editors in private.
Banana Republic, which made its Fashion Week debut for fall 2015, announced on Monday that it will also provide real-time shopping opportunities this season. As soon as the fall 2016 presentation begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 13, six pieces will be available for purchase on BananaRepublic.com. Prices are still being finalized, but a representative says they will be typical for the brand.
A shoppable runway is not an unprecedented strategy: Burberry was one of the first brands to make runway pieces available for sale immediately after its fall 2010 show, though there was a six to eight week waiting period for order fulfillment. Moschino has capitalized on runway show buzz with instant capsule collections since Jeremy Scott's debut fall 2014 show. Anthony Vaccarello's spring and fall 2015 Versus Versace collections were pre-produced and available as soon as the first looks hit the runways, and brands like House of Holland and BCBG have also played with the concept.
However, it's a more unusual move for retailers of Banana Republic's size and price. H&M has perhaps found the most success in converting runway buzz into sales with its designer collaborations (see: Balmain x H&M mania), and in September, Kohl's debuted a runway collection from Lauren Conrad's brand through a Fashion Week show in New York, complete with shoppable livestream. But in both cases, the runway offerings were only small parts of giant businesses, while Banana Republic's presentations are more representative of an entire season's offerings.
The retailer joined the Fashion Week calendar after hiring Marissa Webb to bring an industry-approved cool factor to the classic, accessible brand. Even though Webb transitioned from creative director to creative advisor in October, Banana Republic is still anticipating that customer exposure to Fashion Week coverage will translate into immediate sales.
If all goes well, maybe J.Crew should consider taking a cue from its competitor.