For the movers and shakers of the fashion industry, 2017 has become known as “The Year of the Drop” — thanks to phenomena such as the two-day drop event at Barneys New York in October, when the store featured 30 different capsule collections or single items from iconic fashion brands such as Gucci, Heron Preston and Amiri.
Typically, drop events feature a limited edition collaboration, with a limited quantity; and as a result, fashion consumers are becoming as avidly competitive as retail buyers at Milan’s Fashion Week. As a case in point, to celebrate the opening of its Brooklyn store, Supreme released an exclusive logo tee for under $50 that not only sold out in hours, but showed up that same night on eBay for more than $1,000.
The phenomenon isn’t limited to fashion, either. In summer 2017, Kim Kardashian launched her new cosmetic line, KKW Beauty, with a selection of blush-toned contour kits. Within minutes, two shades were already sold out, and in less than three hours, all four shades were gone. Likewise, in November, Kardashian launched three perfumes online — and the entire production line of 300,000 units (representing $14 million in sales) sold out in less than a week, despite the fact that cyber customers couldn’t smell the perfume for themselves.
The Drop Phenomenon in 2018
Where does this lead the industry in 2018? It’s not difficult to predict that the coming year will see an abundance of drop events — but they’ll be fueled more than ever by digital marketing. With social media providing a mass market media outlet made in heaven for designers, global consumer demand can spike virtually the moment something appears on the runway, so that fashion houses no longer have to wait for their creations to reach the market through traditional, season-dictated channels.
Likewise, in addition to providing the seller with an instant (and eager) market, ecommerce provides the consumer with instant gratification. This makes ecommerce another major player in the drop phenomenon, thanks to cutting-edge-yet-user-friendly ecommerce platforms — such as mobile apps and Facebook stores — that have already begun to revolutionize the fashion industry when it comes to sales. Ecommerce brings the store — and the product — literally right into the user’s living room, providing a virtual runway where consumers can purchase anything, at any price point, right off the catwalk.
While today’s consumers seem game for buying anything online, fashionistas agree that high-end streetwear — such as the Supreme logo tee — is especially successful in drop marketing. For example, in 2016, when Shopify launched its flash-sale-oriented mobile app Frenzy, a run of Yeezy Boost sneakers sold out in minutes. Today, the numbers tell the story: Frenzy now has more than 30,000 users a month. Likewise, Supreme claims that on the first day of a new drop cycle, website traffic can spike up to 16,800 percent, resulting in high numbers of orders per second.
Drop Events and Generation Z
According to recent studies, this type of limited edition marketing has a special appeal with one of marketing's most desirable demographics, Generation Z customers. This crowd seems to thrive on nonconformity — and what’s more nonconformist, fashion-wise, than owning something that few others are able to possess? When one also considers the instant gratification vibe, as well as the sheer trendiness of being able to purchase the exotic and unique with a click, then it seems that the future of drop marketing in the e-commerce marketplace is assured.
In fact, this “direct to consumer” model is already being implemented by Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, who have decided to bypass New York’s Fashion Week in favor of taking their Fall 2018 collection straight to the public.
For 2018, drop events promise to be more popular than ever — but with the added impetus of online marketing strategies to help fuel the fire. If sales numbers from the past couple of years are any indication, drop marketing, coupled with e-commerce solutions, may well lead to a whole new way of merchandising for the fashion industry.