“Someone can buy into it no matter where they are in the world,” McMahon says. “It’s working really well and it makes sense with everything that’s happening. As soon as you put a season against [a garment], it becomes obsolete eventually.”
One of the main tensions between the “old” model and see-now-buy-now has been which is more sustainable. The former allows styles to be tested and rested if they are not likely to sell; the latter requires collections to be made in advance for sale.
McMahon says that despite the international hold-outs like Chanel, see-now-buy-now is the future. “People don’t want to wait for things … everyone wants everything that second,” she says. But it’s not as simple as a good system versus a bad one. “As a world we have succumbed to see-now-buy -now – it’s now looking at the impacts of what we’re making and doing it better.”
Participating in MFF means ticket-holders tuning in to Joslin’s digital runway, which was pre-recorded in February at surfing park URBNSURF, can shop the looks straight from the catwalk via the Shop the Runway digital magazine being published after each show.
So does that impact what gets shown on the runway? Does a designer or stylist choose the pieces most likely to sell, or the ones that need more encouragement?
Brian Huynh, of menswear brand MNDATORY, says in his experience men are “less likely to rush into a purchase”, so being in a see-now-buy-now event is as much about marketing as direct runway sales. This season, Huynh also has a surprise: he’s expanding into womenswear and denim.
He thinks it’s ideal to strike a balance between wearable and aspirational, even in a consumer runway. “Everyone’s a little bit sick of tracksuits – they are looking for those bolder statement pieces. As with any runway, it has to be aspirational and inspiring and spark creativity.”
“It’s about making sure you encapsulate that brand aesthetic and ethos … someone might see something on the runway and love the style,” he says. “The colour may be too ‘challenging’ but they know they have the option to go for something more muted.”
Pokorny agrees there’s tension between showing the black dress that’s guaranteed to sell, and something left of centre.
“You want it to be commercial but you still want it to be exciting,” she says. “You don’t want to pile people into a show to see things that look ‘bland’. You want some intrigue and some excitement. You have to challenge the consumer as well.”
Another advantage of see-now-buy-now is that brands have no excuse to not cast a diverse size range of models, given stylists are pulling from the actual collections, not just samples.
“There’s no excuse for a see-now-buy-now collection. You should be able to pull a garment off the rack that’s the right size, in any size,” she says.
The Melbourne Fashion Festival runs until March 20. Afterpay Australian Fashion Week Australia is on May 31-June 4. mff.com.au; australianfashionweek.com.
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Melissa Singer is National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.