In recent weeks, buyers have had to swap front row seats for zoom meetings when placing orders for SS21 as major fashion weeks and fairs have been cancelled or swapped for digital iterations. Has the pandemic caused them to delay orders or cut budgets for the upcoming spring season? Tiffany Hsu, Mytheresa fashion buying director, spoke to FashionUnited about trends, which digital services she expects from brands and the future of buying.
Most of the major fashion weeks are taking place online in the coming weeks - as has already happened with London Fashion Week. How do you deal with the potential lack of physical contact?
Tiffany Hsu:Not being able to touch something is a very big challenge for us. A photo is always more picture-perfect than what you would have seen in real life. Digital appointments take a lot longer than an actual physical appointment. There are a lot of brands that offer 500 SKUs per season; they will have to tighten it a little bit.
Is your preparation for SS21 differing from your usual procedure?
In terms of planning we are working and planning the same as we have done in previous seasons, currently we are buying digitally with digital showrooms and video call appointments if they are based in another city. We have visited a few local showrooms where of course safety measures were applied.
Does buying for SS21 differ from usual in terms of scheduling and budgeting?
No, we are planning to place our orders as usual to ensure the deliveries arrive on time. Compared to last year, we are growing our budget.
Which items are currently selling well on Mytheresa?
During lockdown we saw a heightened demand for luxury loungewear, tracksuits and activewear which is not much of a surprise. For FW20 customers are gravitating towards understated luxury items from brands such as Khaite, The Row and Jil Sander which are perfect for in- and outside. The minimalist trend will stay for FW20; it is easy to style and a long lasting investment. Moreover, I think statement suiting for the “back to work” look will be a wardrobe essential, with bright colors and big shoulders to make it fun.
Which trends do you see for SS21 and beyond?
The key word is timelessness - it is all about wearability and quality. Tailoring will still play a big role but we will see a more relaxed approach to it. Knits and jerseys will play a big part as they are more versatile for both going out and staying in.
Are there any digital buying tools, you’re using this time, that you haven’t used before?
We are making use of the brands’ own digital portals as well as other mainstream tools we have used before.
Much of your work might have moved online in the past weeks. What needs to be modernized or digitalized when it comes to buying?
The quality of the linesheet and the images that are available to buyers. Since we are an e-commerce company and we are selling to our customers digitally, my expectation for brands selling products to buyers is on the same level, which is not always the case.
Which physical parts of buying, such as visiting showrooms or looking at samples, do you think could be replaced in the future?
I think the actual process of physical buying is not replicable for bigger collections that have multiple categories. However, for brands offering smaller product edits this can definitely be done digitally if they have good images of models wearing the pieces.
Designers and retailers are questioning the fashion calendar and the role of fashion shows. How do you think the process of buying could change after this season?
There is something special and magic about the amazing venues and the atmosphere of fashion shows that is hard to reproduce through digital. However, the Covid-19 pandemic led us all to reflect on ourselves and the way we live, and I think the digital fashion weeks are a great proof that the fashion industry is capable of reinventing itself and adapting digital innovation to best fit our needs today. However, I do feel market dates can be much more streamlined in the future to reduce the amount of back and forth traveling for buyers and sellers alike.
The interview was conducted in writing.
Picture: Tiffany Hsu / Mytheresa