The Rise of Preorders

The fashion industry has been constantly changing since the pandemic shut down stores, factories, and other branches of commerce. Even though in-store sales were diminished, many people continued to shop their favorite brands online. Because of the struggles to keep sales aligned with the amount of inventory, many brands have chosen to take preorders for new merchandise.

The biggest pioneer of this venture has been Telfar and their insanely popular bag that has become almost as difficult to purchase as a Birkin. Like the infamous Hermes bag, the “Bushwick Burkin” has offered consumers the option to preorder bags, for wait of up to five months. More brands are choosing to do this as a way to predict their inventory demands and keep up with the financial devastation that Covid-19 brought their business.

There are positives and negatives that come with this structure of sales. If done effectively, brands can lessen excessive inventory and cover production costs upfront, if purchases must be paid in full. Telfar bags follow this model, with no returns or cancellations. However, the brand risks shipment delays and impatient customers as the delivery can take months.

“Pre-ordering is something that we’ve seen increasing even prior to Covid,” Sarah Willersdorf, Boston Consulting Group’s global head of luxury told Quartz. Brands believe the benefits of preorders outweigh the risks associated with them.

Designers have been saying that their customers are more willing to wait and accepting of delays because of how the pandemic has affected the whole system. In addition to the new reality, the positive environmental impact of preorders, as opposed to fast-fashion, creates another benefit to the process.

As long as brands establish clear communication tactics and manage the expectations, preorders can be beneficial to large or smaller brands. Telfar tells their loyal buyers to, “be cool” about any unexpected changes to their orders.

If there is enough trust of the brands by the customers, the process of preordering will continue to be popularized. However, like many other fashion services, nothing compares to in-person experiences.
By Staci Soslowitz