Online shopping arrives at Fashion Runways

NYTimes article “Watching the Catwalk, and Clicking ‘Add to Cart

professional buyers could take cues from the online shoppers. “If you have lots of people preordering certain product,” he said, “it can be a very helpful way to let the buyer and brand know what’s popular.”

Burberry’s approach has required an overhaul of the company’s supply chain, from when yarns are dyed to when leather is procured. The company is promising customers who order the runway items — outerwear, makeup and accessories — that they will receive them within seven weeks, versus the normal four- to six-month lag between the runway and the rack.

In catering to customers, though, Burberry and other design houses need to be careful not to lose their appeal by seeming common, said Jean-Noël Kapferer, a luxury-marketing consultant and professor at the business school HEC Paris.

“The Internet helps build the awareness and desire by letting so many people peep into the catwalk,” Mr. Kapferer said in an e-mail. But “if too many people can buy it,” he said, “the brand loses its exclusivity.”

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