At the Milan Global Fashion Summit organized by Class Editori on Tuesday, leading Italian executives expressed their skepticism of the phenomenon. The main focus of the conference, though, was the digital revolution and the challenges it presents.
“The fashion system is wrong. When we talk about digitization and see-now, buy-now we have to consider time,” said Prada chief executive officer Patrizio Bertelli. “After 20 years, we are still discussing about show calendars but the problem is always the same: While in the Eighties reasonable dates were chosen for the men’s shows, the women’s schedule is still a problem. Companies need to spend more money because deadlines are too tight, and there is not enough time for an industrial plan. To be fast you have to spend twice as much. We have to consider financial results. Digitization is fundamental for the whole process, but we have to consider how it is applied to avoid any waste of money. People have to be patient, they have to do things in an organic way … actually I see a certain ‘gold rush.’ ”
Diego Della Valle, chairman and CEO of the Tod’s Group, echoed those sentiments, saying time is a key element of the entire Made in Italy industrial process.
“I think that see-now, buy-now can become see-now, buy-never in many cases. Although there will be a change in the organization of the shows, for us see-now, buy-now implies a series of risks and problems,” he said. “At the same time, we have to consider that a customer finds a product in store that he saw for the first time on his mobile device five or six months earlier … he gets bored very quickly. We have to settle for a compromise — it’s key to restock the boutiques every two months with new products scheduling a marketing and communication strategy in advance.”
Della Valle explained that companies are becoming like magazines with a layout and an editorial calendar to respect because new technologies force them to be careful that products don’t get old too quickly.
“For me, see-now, buy-now is the farthest thing from my company. It takes time to craft beautiful things and limited quantities need to be available at the store to preserve exclusivity,” he said. “But I think fashion week will probably become a moment to meet [other members of the fashion industry] and then during the year each company does what it has to do to engage customers.
“We missed the first train, but we are quickly regaining the lost ground,” added Della Valle, explaining how the Tod’s Group reorganized its digital strategy in the past six months. “We are finalizing the mapping and the tools we need to create a dialog with our customers. But we don’t have to forget that our customers of yesterday are still there and we cannot concentrate only on the new things. We have to mediate between what we had and what we can get.”