Burberry is reinventing the runway.
Going forward, the iconic British fashion house is combining men and women’s looks, doing fewer shows by half, and blowing off the standard calendar entirely.
Instead, there will be two Burberry shows per year — a fall edition in September and a second round in February. And customers will not just get to look and wait; fashion items will be available online and in-store as soon as they hit the catwalk.
This is a big switch. Traditionally, the big fashion forces put a forced layover of months between the first glimpse at the looks on the runway and the first buying opportunity on store shelves. Burberry is not alone in bucking the trend. Thakoon said in December that it’s switching over to a similar show-and-sell model, while Versace and Moschino have both toyed with the sales style with their smaller capsule collections.
But Burberry, with its $3.6 billion in revenue in 2015, is by far the biggest fish in the pond to make such a fundamental change — and it seems likely that the waves will be felt throughout high fashion.
“The changes we are making will allow us to build a closer connection between the experience that we create with our runway shows and the moment when people can physically explore the collections for themselves,” said Christopher Bailey, the creative and chief executive officer of Burberry.
“Our shows have been evolving to close this gap for some time. From live-streams, to ordering straight from the runway, to live social media campaigns, this is the latest step in a creative process that will continue to evolve.”
This is Bailey’s second big move since taking the helm from former superstar CEO Angela Ahrendts. Previously he had consolidated Burberry’s various fashion lines into a single label.
“We believe this will make it simpler and more intuitive for our customer,” Bailey said at the time.
“This is certainly not cosmetic. It is a huge change.”
Burberry is also rethinking how it serves its male clientele. The company reports it is currently working with London Collections Men, hosts of Britain’s major men’s fashion events, to figure out what alternative role the label can play.