For a client I have worked on a reevaluation of the collection structure. Collection structure is a hot topic these days – especially with the increasing see-now-buy-now approach by several American brands. Digitalization, social media, financial crisis, and tempo has created additional strategies. From one structure to now roughly four different approaches.
- Walk pace structure (traditional)
In a traditional collection structure a collection is presented twice a year following summer and winter seasons. More over the whole collection is shown a fashions fairs or showrooms. This is a structure very familiar to most, but it is interesting to see how the traditional structure begins to have characteristics of slow fashion (even though there is more attitude related to that as well).
The con of a traditional collection structure is a prolonged time period between collection and customer, which can make irrelevant because of the faster paced world of social media marketing and an industry which is following an ever increasing tempo. How ever the walking pace structure is an advantage if the brand is targeted the more traditional customer primarily in the older age groups. The traditional customer has high brand loyalty, consume in a slower pace, and likes dependable products with high value for money. More over the walking pace collection structure has the advantage of time to build up expectations and to create the old “magic” of design, construction, craft and textiles (like slow fashion), which is disappearing in the faster paced collections. On the con side (if the collection is over exposed six months before it reaches the stores) this kind of structure can create newness fatigue. Meaning the customers simply dont perceive the styles as new, when they reach the stores, because they have all ready been ”over” exposed on social media, blogs etc. A consequence of the in among other earlier discounted sales in the stores – starting a vicious circle. This has al ready lead to changes in the American fashion system – read more about this in the blogpost Can craft cure fashion?
- Walking with interval pace structure (traditionel and express collections)
To keep up with the increased tempo more and more brands has combined the traditional collection with express collections. Express collections are characterized by a here and now approach (not weekly though) and are varied from collections targeted holidays and short term trends. The advantage of this collection structure is you can push sales by presenting news more frequently and you can also offer both long and short term products.
On the other hand, it is a structure which is more demanding because of an increased number of styles. With this structure you push more products out, which can generate more income, but the the risk for discounted sales in retail also increases with approach. Today many mainstream brands work after this structure and it is a challenge both forward and backwards in the value chain.
- Running pace structure (Fast fashion)
The running pace structure is in principle just double up the walking pace structure. Summer and winter collections have been added pre collections. This off course increases news value and the frequents of customer contact. Several fashion brands transformed into this structure to keep up worth the increasing pace, and better respond to the see now buy now demand. Especially the social media and bloggers have been a driver of this. This is also being characterized as fast fashion which is further increasing the number of styles on the marked, putting a even higher pressure on sales. On the other hand, this structure is more aligned with the younger age groups, trend related fashion and social media fulfilling the crave for more new stuff. How ever this with this kind of the structure the aforementioned “magic” of fashion begins to disappear. Creativity, design, originality, textiles and craft is necessarily downsized in favor of a shorter timeframe from collection to customer.
- Spurting pace structure (Speed fashion)
Weekly drops of styles can be considered speed fashion. The ”whole” collection is actually being cut up into smaller bites, where it is actually just a look (or style) being delivered. An obvious advantage is a very high pace of news which matches a social media approach in marketing. On the other hand, it doesn’t make good sense to sell via fashion fairs etc. You also have a higher number of customer touch points because you have new items continuously and therefore increases the chance to sell several times. How ever the the spurting pace structure demands a different backend approach e.g. lower volume of items pr. style and actually undersupplying, because the next new items are already lined up to take over. This also makes it possible to adjust in terms of shifting trends weather aligned styles.
On the other hand, this kind of speed fashion al creates newness saturation. The high level of new creates an, perhaps unintentionally, reaction among the consumers. Even though consumers through the use of social media expresses a demand for new things, they also become saturated. In many cases the new items aren’t new enough (hence a lot of the magic is lost). In addition to that the faster new fashion is put in the the cycle the faster the “shine” or newness value fades. Fashion’s cultural erosion is on speed with this structure. This demands a certain customer who is seeks news frequently and looks for very trend related product (in opposition to classic products).
There are pros and cons with all four collection structures, so how do you choose the right for your brand? In these times it is essential to reevaluate collection structure, because new approaches have arisen creating a more complex fashion system. Never the less one need to look at if you exploit your brands full potential. Can you increase revenue on your products with a collection structure aligned with the end consumers? It is essential to put end consumers at the very front of the value chain so inspiration, design, production and sales matches their needs and preferences. It sounds common sense, but too often it is very difficult.
For the client I have created a strategy for the collection structure making both design and sales ready for the future.