Everything You Need to Know About Apparel’s Buying Cycle and The Changes to Come


There’s no contesting this is the off-season for retail regardless of what industry you’re in, but it seems that the apparel sector feels the void in their balance books more than most. Everyone’s still feeling the New Year hangover, and watching industry leaders to see which direction to head in next. This lull is evidenced by the lukewarm reception of the Los Angeles Fashion Market – an annual trade show which usually draws retail buyers from across the country.

Although some brands say they got a bit of retail buyer traffic, it paled in comparison to years past. “This [show] is for Southern Californians looking for fillers,” said Eme Mizioch, founder of the showroom. As a participant, brand owner Stacey Grossman said her (permanent) showroom in the market typically doesn’t see much action until February. “That’s when all the samples are ready,” she quips.



In the apparel and accessories industry, timing is everything. You have to time your product releases and public appearances with retail buyers’ seasonal schedule. They dictate the yearly cycles of fashion. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) – an organization comprised of more than 500 fashion industry leaders – conducted a long-awaited study about the future of apparel and accessories retail.

“The responsibility of the CFDA is to provide information to help designers decide what is right for them, alleviate the pressure and give them the freedom to allocate their resources in a way that is best for them,” said Diane von Furstenberg, chairman of the CFDA.


How consumers’ “buy now, wear now” mentality affects your sales

The results were clear: it’s time for change in the industry as consumer’s behavioral patterns change to demand in-season shows and stock. While customers used to buy for upcoming seasons – think buying your kids’ winter jacket during back-to-school season in September – there’s been a significant increase in consumers with a “buy now, wear now” mentality.

This raises some important questions for designers. Chief among those questions is if designers will have to manufacture an entire line of clothes before even showing it to the public to gage reception of their samples. The short answer: No. But as a response to consumer needs, buyers do want to see collections in smaller, more intimate showroom settings rather than huge fashion shows. This will allow for less lead-up time, and quicker execution.

Since the study was released, many high-end designers like Tom FordRebecca Minkoff and Tommy  Hilfiger have announced they plan to experiment with new formats.

But don’t worry if you’re an emerging designer still trying to get your foot in the door – the CFDA is thinking about you, too.

One of the objectives of this study is to understand alternatives to the current model to alleviate pressures for young and emerging designers to have traditional, costly runway shows,” the study continues.

With ideas like low-budget forums, smaller collections and openness to experiment, it’s worth heading to their website to check out the full study.

For now,  there are still ‘buying seasons’ your brand should be cognizant of. Here’s a breakdown of the cycle to get your year started with more mindful and strategic product design.

Apparel retailer buyers’ yearly cycle