fashion drops: opportunity or threat?
Unveiling the fashion drop culture. Influenced by the streetwear culture, the drop strategy is a retail marketing trend that creates the illusion of scarcity with unpredictable releases making obsolete the
Unveiling the fashion drop culture.
Influenced by the streetwear culture, the drop strategy is a retail marketing trend that creates the illusion of scarcity with unpredictable releases making obsolete the traditional fashion schedule.
Despite the streetwear references, many luxury brands adopted this new strategy as releasing products aimed to a longer lifespan, valuing craftsmanship and heritage simply wasn’t enough.
From Louis Vuitton to Burberry, many introduced drop collections to attract a younger consumer base, such as Millennials and Gen Z, and keep it excited about new product releases.
Rather than selling products, brands sell hype while promoting a sense of urgency and illusion of scarcity, targeted to emotionally persuade and generate impulsive interest.
The allure of fashion drops is also a response to the immediacy of consumers demand which has shortened the interest-span for products and therefore increased the urgency for newness and growing desire for exclusivity.
Despite the introduction of drops among many luxury brands, the concept of frequent releases is also used at the base of fast fashion and its fast cycles. Products are in fact periodically delivered to encourage consumers to visit stores weekly and urging to buy.
The spread of social media, at a large scale, had a significant impact on the spread of the drop culture. Furthermore, social media represent the central channel for brands to build an engaged community that ultimately creates buzz over the limited releases and enchants the visibility of rarity to the point of becoming the new status symbol.
Will the status of rarity will always be as profitable?
“By definition, the strategy is limited,” says Alter. “You can’t capitalize on surprise and rarity forever if you want to be profitable — and the strategy itself might lose some of its gloss as consumers become jaded.” – Fashionista
Regardless of the profitability that drop culture can bring to a business, in the long run it could potentially become the base for a more conscious business model. But, after all, does drop culture encourages an even faster shopping attitude, or can it be considered a new tactic for a more conscious consumption?
Smaller brands have been using stock drops effectively to manage workflow, to schedule and produce inventory on set times and develop a more conscious production aimed to reduce overproduction too.
When it comes to conscious consumption, the feeling of urgency could have an emotional response and “It could trigger impulse shopping, which is shopping without intention, or not shopping mindfully. I encourage mindfulness before making a purchase, but with the ‘drop’ system, how much mindfulness can really be created if there is only less than 24 hours to make a purchase? This may trigger some anxiety, so a consumer may feel anxious that if they do not buy this now, it will not be there. I would be mindful of the anxiety that it may cause buying from several stores that engage in stock drops, and the potential of buyers’ remorse too.” – Dr Dawnn Karen
In the sustainable fashion market, consciously made products are not enough and sustainability should be extended to business model and workflow too, so producers can set a more predictable schedule for production, finances and reduce the burnout cycle.
The popularity of the strategy is a positive sign, so businesses can find alternative ways to grow within an extremely competitive landscape and, when used to promote a slower and more conscious approach to the fashion cycle and not only centered on profit, could represent an opportunity to develop an innovative business model centered on sustainability.
words and visual by Giulia Mummolo
Eco Age (Ruth Macglip)
Fashion United (Marjorie van Elven)
Fashionista (Maria Bobila)