You'd be surprised how often it happens. You watch the show - whether in situ or online, look 38 sashays down the runway/across your screen, and you say to yourself 'that's the one'. That's your look. Then you more or less forget about it until 6 months later as the season launches online and in-store. And then you can't find it anywhere, because it was just a 'runway piece'. It never went into production.
Yet thankfully, pre-ordering pieces from a catwalk collection, once the preserve of faithful clients and industry insiders, is now, in this age of ever-faster fashion, an option open to all. Each season, an increasing number of brands and boutiques offer their customers the chance to buy right off the runway, before those pieces hit the shop floor.
One of the companies doing it best is Moda Operandi. Co-founded in 2011 by Vogue contributing editor Lauren Santo Domingo, the pioneering fashion venture posted revenues of $68 million in 2015, and customer spend now averages $2,000 per purchase, increasing to up to $7,800 during fashion weeks, according to Forbes.com.
The idea for Moda was born when co-founder Lauren Santo Domingo tried to track down a drop-waist, paisley dress from a Prada Resort presentation.
"I called the PR, I called the stores, I called all these people and I couldn't get it. It turns out it was never produced.” And I was like, “I actually know people in fashion and if I can’t get this damn dress, then how could anyone?” she told The Telegraph.
Unlike the pre-ordering services offered by department stores and traditional e-tailers, and thanks to Lauren’s relationships with designers, Moda’s trunk show model is not dependent upon the pieces a buyer may choose for their store, nor is it limited to the runway garments a given designer may decide will actually be put into production. One can, literally, shop the runway, as their tagline goes.
“I actually know people in fashion and if I can’t get this damn dress, then how could anyone?”
Rather than employing buyers to select what are often considered the most commercially viable pieces from each collection, Moda encourages its clients to work with their team of stylists to pre-order their personal favorites, which are guaranteed to be produced. Shoppers pay 50% upfront, which helps cover designers' production costs, and the other 50% when it's shipped three to seven months later.
Moda’s digitization of the traditional trunk show has now come full circle, and to complement its premium online offering the company now has private showrooms in Manhattan and London, where clients can peruse collections in person.
And the success of Moda’s service, including the number of gowns it was discovered were being ordered in white, has led the company to launch an exclusive bridal collection, which features dresses from some of today’s most sought after designers.
Read more about Moda Operandi here.