A year ago, your favourite designers knew you quite well. They could predict, generally, what events might be in your diary for the autumn season ahead, what types of Christmas and New Year parties you might be attending, and the winter vacations you probably had booked. They knew what you might want outfits for, how many pieces you could buy, when, where and what you might spend.
But the coronavirus pandemic has altered all expectations and halted many of our most obvious plans. You might still be going on holiday, but the destination may have changed, warranting a different type of outfit. You might be heading to smaller gatherings and low-key dinners, rather than galas and mega weddings. The frequency of when you shop and how much you buy, as well as what you want to wear, will have most likely changed.
It might sound like the ultimate crisis for fashion retailers, but it’s also an opportunity – customers have perhaps not been this open to changing their habits and trying new things since the 2008 economic crash. Luxury brands are embracing new retail concepts, looking to change the way we shop going forward via everything from digital games, to Zoom show-and-tell calls with designers.
The new fashion landscape, it seems, is all about three things; ultimate convenience, a fun experience and truly personal service. Shopping as a form of entertainment has been somewhat under threat – first with the initial closure of non-essential retail stores in global lockdowns, and then new rules around queuing and mask-wearing which emerged when customers were allowed to return. For many, it’s been off putting. Why would you subject yourself to the extra effort, if you didn’t really <need> to buy anything? As such, brands are thinking up increasingly creative new ways to reach their customers.
From small couturiers to retail behemoths, super-serving loyal clients has become essential. If you don’t want to go to the shops, the shops can now come to you. The new services are infinitely more personalised than traditional online shopping – for designer Emilia Wickstead, virtual calls with clients over Zoom, WhatsApp or FaceTime have become a frequent ‘new normal’, before someone decides to place an order.
MatchesFashion.com has seen demand increase for socially distanced one-on-one appointments with its esteemed personal shoppers at the retailer’s 5 Carlos Place townhouse, and has also scaled up its consignment services since lockdown, allowing customers to try at home before they buy, with delivery in as little as 90 minutes. You could now host a private shopping party in your living room – an edit of stock is delivered, for you and others in your social bubble to try, in the safety and privacy of your own home.
Getting customers to engage with shopping again, and to see it as fun, especially if they now have fewer occasions and events to get dressed up for, is the goal. Isabel May, managing director and CMO at Mytheresa, explains a greater need to “keep interacting with the clients and give them something special, something to talk about.”