This morning, I couldn’t help but notice a few of the luxury department stores already showcasing Fall Preview Collections on their sites. Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Neiman Marcus each promoted Fall or Pre-fall collections. It’s a bit striking that while most shoppers are just stocking up on colorful maxi dresses and summer sandals, and the majority of retailers are blasting messaging around summer getaways and poolside BBQs, that these items are already making an appearance. I haven’t been physically inside a luxury department store the past week or so, but do wonder if these items have simultaneously reached store shelves, or are just available online for now – perhaps as an early pre-read of what consumers will respond to.
It’s interesting how the fashion cycle works. Each February is A/W (Autumn/Winter) Fashion Week, where designers show their latest Ready-To-Wear collections on the runway. From here, the retailers place their orders for the upcoming seasons, and celebrities identify looks to borrow in future months for various events. Four months later, in late May-early June, items (sometimes modified) from these collections first reach retailers, as demonstrated above.
Shoppers should expect to see “pre-fall” collections at specialty stores like Gap and J.Crew more around the July time-frame, after most summer inventory has been cleared. There’s likely pressure that as soon as some stores have pre-fall collections available, that other retailers want to be on board and seen as pushing the envelope, offering the latest trends and being up-to-date, after all – who wants to be known as the laggard?! But to appeal to mainstream shoppers, retailers must remember the importance of “wear now”: most consumers want something they can take home with them and put on that week. I assure you that most money right now is being made from summer items. Luxury retailers are simply providing a tease of what’s ahead to adhere to the fashion cycle, generate press and a reputation for offering the latest trends, get their shoppers excited, and provide early buying access to the most elite. The luxury world truly is a world of it’s own.