Fashion Week kicked off on Thursday with the industry descending on New York City.
The tradition of designers showing off their collections actually goes back to the 1940s. In today’s fast paced digital world, however, some are wondering if the tradition is still relevant.
Fashion week “used to be open to a very small closed circle of editors and buyers and we’ve seen a huge dramatic shift. We decided to open up our show to the consumer,” Rebecca Minkoff, the creative director for her own line, told CNBCs “On the Money.”
After a designer shows their collection, it usually takes 6 month for the clothing to hit stores. Minkoff decided to change that, and most of her clothing and accessories hit shelves as soon as they are revealed. It’s called ‘See Now, Buy Now.’
Social media now gives everyone a front row seat at the event, so the new philosophy helps get the items right into the hands of customers as soon as they want it.
The customer “doesn’t have to wait 6 months and see these different bloggers and celebrities and editors carrying the product,” said Uri Minkoff, Rebecca’s brother, co-founder and CEO of their brand.
The lack of lag also prevents fast fashion retailers from copying designs.
Even outside of fashion week, social media plays a key role for the Minkoffs, who prefer it to traditional ads.
“We use Twitter for new updates. We use Pinterest for our mood board, but Instagram has really become front and center,” Uri Minkoff said to CNBC.
The brand has nearly 900,000 Twitter followers and more than 780,000 Instagram fans.
As digital methods play a larger role for fashion brands, retail is struggling. To make their stores more relevant, the Minkoffs have gone high-tech.
The flagship Rebecca Minkoff store in New York City has a video wall for customers to find items, and also has interactive mirrors in the dressing room. The mirrors let consumers set the lighting to match where they will wear the clothing. They also let you order a different size or color with a few taps.
“I think it’s [brick and mortar retail] become about experience,” Uri Minkoff said. “For some people it may be an art installation for others it might be the way you boost the senses in some way, and for us we basically said there are so many efficiencies in e-commerce, how do we bring those digital efficiencies into the store?”
The technology worked: Sales have been up more than 200 percent each year since installation.
Rebecca Minkoff stores, which include 4 in the US and others overseas, also host events.
“We want to make our stores a hub of community. We host fireside chats, we host art openings, we host female entrepreneurs who want to launch something,” Rebecca Minkoff said.
The technology and events seems to resonate with the brand’s target audience—millennials.
“I’m designing for a woman who wants to lead a more fearless life. The esthetic is a little bit bohemian, a little bit rock and roll. But I really want a woman to put that jacket on and say, ‘Okay I’m asking for that raise,” Rebecca Minkoff said.