Fashion / Feature

Is pre-order the future for fashion brands?

Gary Bigeni

It's common in the realm of fashion to make more stock than you end up selling, especially when you follow fashion seasons. This is why clearance and end of season sales exist, to clear out all excess from the last season to make way for the new. But for some labels and brands that don't opt for sales by design, excess stock can end up being burned or destroyed. It's a production model, and fashion norm, that is unsustainable, for brands, customers and our planet.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought these issues to the surface. Over production and over consumption and the overall impact the fashion industry is not one that can feasibly continue. With a decrease in shopping, many brands have been left with piles of extra stock. And consumers who bought up big in the previous season, are left with clothes they were unable to wear and will soon be out of date and out of style.

It's been a wake up call for many.

During the pandemic, we've seen both Gucci and Saint Laurent make the decision to leave the traditional fashion calendar. Both alluding that they will pursue a new direction outside of fashion seasons. And now we're seeing other brands, jump off the spinning wheel that is the fashion calendar and looking for a new way forward.

A new realm - a seasonless future and a pre-order model.

Pre-order is fast becoming a new solution for many brands - it allows for consumers to re-connect with a label and its pieces, by committing to purchasing early and to the waiting period. In this way, it makes the piece more valuable, positioning fashion as a treasure not something disposable.

For Gary Bigeni, he felt like he was creating without thinking and it didn't feel right. But since moving over to and embracing pre-order, business is feeling more personal again.

"I guess during this time as a small business it has allowed me to really think about how I want to move forward as a person and a brand. Allowing myself time to think about what is important as a person and in a business is what we all needed,

"Having a small taste of pre-ordering for my business has been so exciting to connect with customers on a more personal level through direct sales and with hand written notes to say thank you and emails from customers." said Gary Bigeni."

For jewellery maker Holly Ryan, seasonless pieces have always been the way forward. She explains that her brand's sustainable approach to design has been a saviour.

"Timeless design that transcends seasons has always been my modus operandi and now, with the fate of the fashion calendar unknown, it is our intuitively slower and more sustainable approach that has helped see my brand through this time of turmoil.

"As we are a sustainable label, all of our pieces are handmade to order. Our seasonless approach is much more sustainable for consumers and for us as a brand," Holly says.

Just a few of the brands we've seen making this shift are KITX, Alice McCall and even Reebok. KITX has made a selection of the key styles from the REGENERATION collection available on a pre-order basis. Founder and designer has worked with this model historically to ensure no over production. With MBFWA 20 cancelled, Alice McCall pivoted to a new offering, allowing shoppers to preview and also pre-order 12 pieces of Girl, Liberty! Reebok recently launched a pre-order system in Australia to help gauge interesting in its coming releases.

We know that the future of fashion will be a more timeless one - likely even a seasonless reality, where clothes do not have a predated life span. But maybe our future will also be one where pre-order becomes a norm, saving unwanted pieces from landfill.

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Image: Gary Bigeni