Fashion’s Rise of See-Now-Buy-Now

If you were following the fashion world in Spring 2016, chances are you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the whisperings about “See-Now-Buy-Now.” Well, they weren’t as much whisperings as they were shouts about how Rebecca Minkoff had ditched the traditional fashion calendar. As opposed to a regular fall collection (usually shown 6 months in advance), Rebecca Minkoff and her team made the bold decision to show a spring collection on the runway for their Spring 2016 fashion show. This meant that the clothes shown on the runway would be available for purchase immediately after the show ended – for one of the first times in history – an example of what is known as the see-now-buy-now model.

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While this change in production didn’t necessarily go against any explicit ‘rules,’ choosing to be the first to break out of the mold led many fashion houses to turn their noses up at Minkoff. However, fast forward to Fall 2018 and almost every major fashion house has implemented the technology behind the see-now-buy-now model. Brands still follow the traditional fashion calendar and show collections 6 months in advance, but also feature capsule collections or exclusive pieces that are immediately available. They’ve chosen to implement the see-now-buy-now model in smaller waves with innovative technology, in order to strategically move the most product they can.

Why It Works
See-now-buy-now aligns with the world we live in today – consumers want to be engaged. This model captures the immediate engagement consumers are looking for, and wraps it up in the excitement of the fashion week fervor. This is a winning combination to rapidly boost sales – the ultimate confirmation that the model works.

However, this model has become isolated at the two ends of the fashion industry. Writing for Digiday, Hilary Milnes explains, “Big brands with deep pockets and a mostly vertically integrated supply chain have both the financial and operational means to pull it off — like Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger. At the other end, there are designers who haven’t yet tied up their businesses in large networks of wholesale partners. They’re running small enough businesses that a shift in strategy isn’t going to sink their businesses.” Mid-sized brands unfortunately don’t have the internal capabilities to take on this sort of model. These brands rely heavily on wholesale partners, and have less control of their online selling channels and schedule.

See-Now-Buy-Now Today
Tommy Hilfiger is the perfect case study for see-now-buy-now today. Hilfiger took the sales model one – or several – steps further. Infusing his fashion house with a see-now-buy-now collection under the name of “TommyNow,” Hilfiger offers the looks available through his website, an A.I.-powered TMY.GRL and TMY.BOY Facebook chatbot, and an app.

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On the website, users can watch the latest TommyNow runway show on the homepage, and pause as the models display each look.As each consecutive look appears, a button at the bottom of the screen updates to say, “SAVE LOOK 1, “SAVE LOOK 2,” and so on. Once the user clicks to save a look, they can then find it archived under another “MY LOOKS” button on the bottom right. There, the outfit is shown exactly as it was on the runway, with each individual piece linked next to it for purchase.

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TMY.GRL, the Facebook Messenger bot launched by the brand, also assists in the see-now-buy-now experience. The bot mimics a concierge-style service through automated chat responses. According to the write-up, “TMY.GRL learns to understand consumer habits, context and intent to better predict and provide the content, information or engagement users are seeking.” TMY.GRL takes the engagement consumers desire even further, and provides a personalized connection to the brand that many other sales channels are missing.

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Finally there is TommyNow Snaps, the app launched by Tommy Hilfiger. This app utilizes image recognition and augmented reality technology to shop the runway looks. Users are directed to take a photo of any product in-person or online – even right off the street – and the app will instantly recognize it and link the consumer. This is the sort of app fashion lovers have dreamed of for years – brought to reality!

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Tommy Hilfiger has taken the dream of see-now-buy-now and run with it – and it has only been around for four seasons! With the future of fashion on the edge of a technological revolution, it’s exciting to think about the other possibilities that lay ahead for the see-now-buy-now model and brands’ utilization of it.

6 comments

  1. Really interesting post, Addison. The see-now buy-now concept reminded me of one of the articles we have to read for next class… the one of Professor Kane’s discussion with Sprinklr COO Carlos Dominguez. I think that the business model Tommy Hilfiger follows is a great example of how important social engagement is in today’s world. More and more brands are focusing on the customer and learning how to engage with them on new platforms, as evidenced by the Tommy Facebook chatbot and app. These types of digital initiatives also help to lower the sense of exclusivity that surrounds high fashion by showing how wearable (most) of the products are.

  2. This kind of reminds me of the presentation @mmerckbc did about LikeToKnow.it. It seems like fashion designers have figured out that there is a link between the speed and ease of shopping and more sales. It’s kind of like how Domino’s makes it easier to buy pizza by allowing customers to order through a chat bot. I’m sure that even more brands will be following in Tommy Hilfiger’s steps and eventually they will need to in order to survive in the technological world we live in.

  3. I liked this post since I am not very up-to-date with technology in the fashion industry and it is always interesting to learn more about how different industries use it. I think that engagement is key in today’s fast-driven because it’s so easy to forget things once an event ends.
    By encouraging people to purchase as the event is happening, it is more recent in their mind and therefore they are going to be more likely to purchase the item. Companies need calls to action in order to increase conversions and keep people buying. Since technology has advanced so much in the recent, it is important that they keep researching and observing their competitors in order to stay up to date and encourage the most conversions from their consumers.

  4. Great post. In a “guys version” of the same thing, the sporting apparel manufacturer Fanatics would deliver championship apparel within minutes of a particular team winning the World Series/ Superbowl. “Really fast” fashion great.

  5. Hi, Addison great post! I think it’s interesting that smaller luxury brands aren’t going to be able to keep up with this trend due to the expensive nature of it, it makes me wonder if the number of luxury brands will decrease due to this trend? It must be very difficult to be able to deliver and send the items so quickly when the customer can order right when they see the item. I wonder if there is a way for brands with less robust operations to take part like maybe they could work through someone like Amazon to help them with the shipping? This might lower their brand quality perception though if people see that they are needing outside help. Do you find yourself using this feature often?

  6. Really like this idea. Smart Marketing! Impulse buy now ordering and incentive to pay attention. I am not sure if they do this, but I would add a level of urgency, and only be able to purchase during the show…and then have a second opportunity in a few weeks.

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