With this season’s Milan Fashion Week being cut short and fashion shows cancelled, designers and fashion insiders are recognizing that the end of the runway as we know it could be on its way.
The environmental impact of flying models, editors, buyers, and photographers across the globe has been on the minds of many for years, but now that coronavirus concerns have effectively cancelled or postponed large events worldwide, the fashion industry has been quick to respond and reevaluate how they communicate and sell their products.
The first step, of course, is to get those clothes, footwear, and accessories in front of a worldwide audience of qualified customers. Brands have experimented with various strategies off the runway, including fashion show videos, see-now buy-now ecommerce, and direct engagement through social media.
And while physical fashion show events that cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce have a certain prestige, going virtual is no longer just for smaller brands. Even one of Italy’s top couturiers was forced to livestream his show rather than invite guests to view the collection in person.
Technology Taking Over
With big designer brands signaling that the runway is not the end all be all of wholesaling, what could this mean for the rest of the fashion?
In short, a lot. Technology has already revolutionized the industry on the back end. State-of-the-art ERP and PLM speed up brands’ workflows. Big data gives brands and retailers alike more information than ever. Combined with B2C ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Amazon Marketplace that make creating and updating online stores seamless, the last piece of the puzzle is clear: B2B needs to go digital, and we have the technology to do it.
Wholesaling until recently could be a dusty, unglamorous affair. New platforms, however, are injecting the field with slick aesthetics and even slicker automation.
Services like JOOR and NuOrder provide a streamlined bridge between wholesalers and prospective buyers. Using well-designed interfaces, buyers can browse virtual showrooms and pick out styles, size ranges, and colorways. In fact, it feels almost like online shopping at your favorite store.
Brands create line sheets using data from their ApparelMagic system and take orders and payments directly from the digital wholesale platform, which in turn is connected back with ApparelMagic for a fully-integrated experience.
This means no longer sending dull order spreadsheets, fewer emails flying back and forth, and no more manual entry into inventory software. B2B ecommerce means brands can finally give their wholesale customers the experience they give customers at retail.