Global warming and the unpredictability of seasons has made the traditional spring/summer and autumn/winter fashion season range planning a high-risk strategy. British fashion Brand Burberry announced its intention to make its biannual collections “seasonless” and mix cold- and warm-weather garments in a single offering, others will follow.
Burberry’s initiative is also partly in response to the rising influence of Asian and emerging markets especially as it relates to revenue growth. I have to admit I hate waste in retail, so every September through March on my numerous trips to Asia and the Middle East in 32 ° Celsius heat (90°Fahrenheit), I walk past numerous fashion retailer’s window displays and showrooms filled with winter fashion more suitable to a winter wonderland, cold drizzly days or trudging around in snow and sludge and think to myself what a complete miss-match with the season and missed revenue opportunity. Most luxury brands right down to fast fashion like Zara and H & M are guilty of this disconnect between fashion and season.
Now the argument of northern hemisphere retailers is that 90% of the population live north of the equator and why should we cater our range for the southern hemisphere, it is such a small market, it is not viable to create a summer range and a winter range at the same time. The truth is somewhat different.
Over 45% of the population live in tropical and sub-tropical climates and experience summer while the northern hemisphere is experiencing winter. Yet the majority of northern hemisphere fashion brands are selling their winter ranges into these warm climates.
We estimate that these brands are missing out on up to 10% of their annual revenue. Add to this the unpredictability of seasons caused by global warming and the traditional winter/summer seasons have become a costly and high risk strategy.
This is slowly changing with brands like Burberry announcing a bi-annual “season-less” range. Others will follow.
While the north is freezing, 40% of the world’s population are experiencing summer and if I was to include subtropical populations close to the Tropic of Cancer such as Southern California, Mexico, Florida, Nth Africa, Nth India, I dare say the split is 45% of the world’s population experience summer in a northern winter.
In our estimate the lost revenue opportunity for these retailers is over 10% of their annual turnover equivalent to their total eCommerce sales as a channel and here lives the conceit, gone are the days when retailers can throw away this revenue opportunity on the basis of inconvenience.
For all global fashion brands Asia and emerging markets are the growth engine moving forward, these brands need to “park their egos” and cater for the Asian Century. Currently around 40% of the world’s population live in the tropics. At current rates of population growth, by 2050, more than half of the world’s people will live in the region. Both Africa, Asia and South America will experience huge population growth. For example, the population of the tropical region of India alone will be close to that of the U.S and Europe combined.
- A permanent summer/trans seasonal design team
- Design trans-seasonal ranges better enabled to account for the unpredictability of the weather
- Improved and more flexible supply chain
- Ranging winter fashion in a special area to cater for tourists and local travellers during September to February
- Market research to better understand tropical and near tropical customer preferences
- Better analysis to quantify loss sales from current practise
- Better localization analysis
Of course, the biggest inhibitor is Executive level belief in the status quo, after all this tactic has worked this way for the last century.
Myself I defer to ancient philosophers and the science of numbers to seek clarity and truth.
“It is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows”