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Post-Covid: How are retailers adapting their purchase planning?

By Julia Garel


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Drop-off delays, cancellations of trade fairs, postponed collections, the question of purchasing planning is at the heart of the disruptions brought about by the crisis. Added to this is the digital transformation - that of fashion weeks but also of showrooms and trade shows - to which fashion professionals are still trying to acclimatise. To cope with this rapidly changing landscape, buyers of concept stores and e-tailers are adopting different approaches, some with more confidence than others. In order to get a feel for the situation, FashionUnited contacted five retailers. Their responses provide a heterogenous panorama of current needs and adaptations.

Overview of post-covid impacts on purchasing schedules :

  • Purchases that are stretching over time,
  • Dropping with fewer items,
  • Themes from AW20 are sometimes carried over to SS21,
  • The agility of retailers specializing in eco-responsible brands,
  • Importance of pre-collections.

Zeineb Chaouch, co-founder and creative direction at Le DiX

Le DiX is a young Parisian concept store, inaugurated in January 2020 in the 8th arrondissement. It offers young brands and pieces created in collaboration with artists. Since May 2020, the location also has an e-shop.

Could you explain your purchase schedule in normal times and how it has been adapted to the impact of Covid-19?

Zeineb Chaouch : Our purchasing schedules are quite particular: for major brands such as For Love & Lemons or Sister Jane, we place seasonal orders for deliveries in very limited quantities but at high frequencies (every month).

Other established brands such as House of Sunny and By Malina follow the usual calendar with two collections per year (Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer).

However, many of our brands are part of an eco-friendly supply chain and are therefore less frequent. Many of these brands make less than one collection per year.

Although supporting this type of supply chain is a disadvantage nowadays because it does not fit in with “fast-fashion” - which is still very much a part of consumer demand - it’s an advantage in the post-Covid era, because it does not disrupt our calendar.

When will Le DiX be purchasing for the SS21 season?

We remain in constant communication with all our partner brands and support each other in these times of crisis. Therefore we will place orders when our partner brands are ready to take them.

We have very little visibility at the moment, mainly due to the fact that a large part of our partner brands are very young with few structures and means and are thus the most affected by the crisis.

Will pre-collections and capsule collections still be of the same interest for Le DiX?

Due to the size of the structures we work with, these collections are not applicable for us. However, for capsule collections, we collaborate a lot with artists to create unique pieces based on the fusion of art and upcycling. Therefore we will decrease the quantities produced but will continue to support young artists.

Maud Barrionuevo, purchasing manager at 24S

24S is Le Bon Marché's e-commerce platform, formerly known as “24 Sèvres”. Introduced by LVMH in 70 countries in 2017, it was created to participate in the growing market of luxury digital commerce. The site offers items from more than 200 brands, the majority of which belong to the LVMH group.

What is your purchasing schedule under normal circumstances and did you have to adjust it?

Maud Barrionuevo: The women’s summer pre-collections belong to the vast majority of purchases and are normally made between mid-May and mid-July for delivery from November to January. Then fashion weeks start in September with shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris at the end of September.

When will 24S be purchasing for the SS21 season?

This season is very special and we are considering several brand strategies: a smaller drop or sometimes a capsule presented later. AW20 themes are sometimes kept for SS21.

Finally, other brands only offer a single drop in September. As for the fashion shows, we don’t know yet what will happen. The men’s calendar is tighter and the pre-collections take place in May/June, with catwalk purchases being made in July. So most brands have showcased their collection in a single presentation, mostly digital.

Will pre-collections and capsule collections still be of the same interest for 24S?

Yes, we are interested in presenting these products at the end and beginning of 2021, as expected by 24S customers. It’s therefore very important to preserve these.

L’Exception - Paris

Régis Pennel, founder of L’Exception

Located in the heart of Paris, under “La Canopée du Forum des Halles”, L’Exception is a concept store featuring creative brands for men and women and also has an e-shop.

Could you explain your regular purchase schedule and then how this has been adapted according to Covid-19?

Régis Pennel : Normally, the schedule is very busy: we make four to five appointments per day. For this season, we’ll probably slow down the pace because the purchases will take longer.

When will L’Exception make purchases for the SS21 season?

Our SS21 purchases start at the end of June and go on until October, with many more appointments in July. Before, we used to finish menswear around July 10-15, but now we have appointments until the end of July.

Will pre-collections and capsule collections still be of the same interest for L’Exception?

For the pre-collections, yes. We’ve already spent a lot of time and budget on them. It’s important because they’re delivered very early in November/December.

Macaplace - Nantes

Claire Rocher Caillard, co-founder of Macaplace concept store

Macaplace is a Nantes-based concept store, which was launched in November 2019. The location is distinguished by a layout similar to an apartment, on the first floor of a building in the city center. The store offers high-end fashion made by international brands (such as Modetrotter and Suzie Winkle) and also has its own e-shop.

Could you explain your regular purchasing schedule and then how this has been adapted according to Covid-19?

Claire Rocher Caillard : We partner with brands and designers who work on collections ahead of time, but not a year ahead of time. For example, this summer, we made our purchases at the end of 2019, beginning of 2020. Covid-19 has unfortunately impacted some designers who will no longer be able to deliver their entire collection…

When will you make your purchases for the SS21 season?

Not before the end of 2020.

Will pre-collections and capsule collections still be of the same interest for Macaplace?

Pre-collections, no, but capsule collections, yes. The principle of creating exclusives in limited editions (also in time) is perfect for us and proposes different things.

Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying manager at Mytheresa

The Mytheresa e-commerce site offers clothing, bags, shoes and accessories from more than 180 international luxury and designer brands such as Balenciaga, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Saint Laurent. Since recently, Mytheresa also offers men’s fashion.

Does the way you are currently preparing for SS21 differ from your usual procedure?

Tiffany Hsu: In terms of planning, we are working and planning as we did in previous seasons. Currently, we are buying via digital showrooms and video call appointments if they are based in another city. We have visited a few local showrooms where security measures have of course been applied.

Will your purchase for next season differ in terms of timing and budgeting?

No, we plan to place our orders as usual to ensure that deliveries arrive on time. We are increasing our budgets, compared to last year.

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This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR, translated and edited.

Photo Credit: Le DiX, L’Exception, Macaplace

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