Moda Operandi’s Trunk Shows Suggest the Future

In spring 2021, style won’t be supplanted by sweatpants.

And luxury fashion customers could spend more.

That’s according to the biannual Moda Operandi “Runway Report” and its findings based on selling results from the 150 or so virtual designer trunk shows for spring 2021, staged by Moda.

“Despite conjecture in the public domain that sweatpants will dominate for seasons to come, due to ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, our data indicates a far more optimistic outlook. Yes, comfort will be a resounding theme in the season ahead, but that comfort will not come at the expense of style,” Ganesh Srivats, chief executive officer of the New York-based Moda Operandi, wrote in the report, being issued Wednesday.

According to Moda’s trunk show date, customers on average spent $779 per ready-to-wear piece this trunk show season, compared to last year’s $576. That’s a 35 percent increase in average unit retail from spring-summer 2020.

The top 10 spring 2021 shows based on gross order volume were Valentino, Alessandra Rich, Johanna Ortiz, Gabriela Hearst, Zimmermann, Ulla Johnson, Jacquemus, The Row, Prada and Khaite. Many specialty pieces were bestsellers at Moda’s trunk shows, suggesting people are continuing to invest in higher-value items. Among the pieces cited: Simone Rocha’s beaded bustier patchwork dress, priced $1,995; Paco Rabanne’s printed mesh kimono, $4,650;  Rodarte’s printed silk-twill dress, $1,600, and Miu Miu’s embroidered mini skirt, $7,500.”The luxury consumer is seeking a wardrobe that evokes an easy, relaxed sense of high fashion, perhaps anticipating a lifestyle where socialization happens among small groups at home,” wrote Srivats. “This trend toward easygoing wardrobing is complemented, however, by the luxury consumer’s continued desire to acquire higher-value designer pieces. We saw this manifested through an uptick in spend for long-lasting ‘forever’ pieces, as well as extravagant, trend-driven splurges.”

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Moda Operandi’s trunk show platform enables the company to analyze thousands of pre-order transactions and anticipate upcoming fashion trends. Customers place orders six months in advance of receiving them and pay 50 percent up front. “By each season, we get an early read on what will be trending months from now — be it designers, silhouettes, styles, colors, etc.,” said Srivats.

Cult Gaia beaded clutch and knit dress. 

“The trunk show component was our founding business model,” Lisa Aiken, fashion and buying director for the nine-year-old Moda Operandi, told WWD. “In terms of us really focusing on the insights we glean from the trunk shows, it’s been about two years.”

She said 70 different data points are aggregated and analyzed that provide predictive insights and help set Moda Operandi’s buy for the season ahead, though to some extent, the company’s buying plan has always been influenced by trunk show results.

“We have a very engaged VIP client base which accounts for a substantial portion of trunk show business,” said Aiken. “She’s shopping ahead of the season even in this moment” of the pandemic. “She is spending more,” Aiken added.Echoing her ceo, Aiken said, “Comfort and fashion aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. She’s not necessarily willing to sacrifice the fashion component of her wardrobe because she is indoors and her lifestyle has changed.”She said Moda’s trunk show shopper is “very representative of the luxury segment of shoppers we cater to with our brand assortment.”

Each trunk show runs on Moda’s web site for about two weeks. The shows get bolstered by Moda Live, which are interactive, shoppable live videos hosted by designers and fashion insiders. They bring luxury clients behind the scenes and into the showrooms of designers and brands. Johanna Ortiz, Carolina Herrera, Peter Do, Paco Rabanne and Zimmermann are among the designer brands that have participated in Moda Live. In the 24 hours after a brand is showcased on Moda Live, it sees, on average, a 45 percent increase in sales.

Pre-COVID-19, Moda conducted in-person trunk shows, typically salon-style, often in Moda’s own showrooms, located in New York, London and Hong Kong. “That was the basis of us evolving into Moda Live,” said Aiken.

“What we often see on the runway can be one step too far, but spring 2021 had far more of a lifestyle component, a thoughtfulness around end use, versus those amazing runway moments,” said Aiken. “From a commercial side, I found it really exciting. It really tied together who the designer is, and who is shopping that designer.” Aiken sees the resort season as challenging over the next couple of months, whereas next April and May should be healthier for designer sales.

“At a moment like this discussing fashion trends might seem frivolous. But fashion trends can offer illuminating insight. How customers feel about the present and the near future is revealed by their wardrobe choices,” said Srivats.

Among the key findings culled from Moda’s trunk shows:

• Trunk shows with a runway component — meaning staged live or digitally recorded — drove on average 40 percent more revenue than those that didn’t.

• Cities where customers spent the most on spring 2021 trunk shows were New York City followed in order by London; San Francisco; Seattle; Los Angeles; Greenwich, Conn.; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Toronto.

• Studio Amelia’s debut of its first spring ready-to-wear collection, launched on Moda Live, ranked among the site’s top 15 collections for spring 2021. Clients gravitated toward the liquid bias slip dress, satin-lined trench dress, and wool midi skirt.

• “Naked” dresses were the top sellers in several collections, including Jacquemus, Christopher Esber, Anna Quan, Altuzarra and Cult Gaia.

• Top-selling spring 2021 pants were from The Row, St. Agni and Victoria Beckham.

• Matching sets — including Alessandra Rich’s floral top and skirt, Etro’s printed satin shirt and skirt, Ulla Johnson’s cotton plissé top and skirt, and Johanna Ortiz’s crop top and midi skirt were twice as likely to be purchased together than purchased separately.

• Poolside pieces or those suited to a long weekend on the coast saw an uptick.

• Vacation-style bags from Ulla Johnson, Johanna Ortiz, Cult Gaia and Altuzarra were strong sellers.

From left: Tom Ford linen kaftan, Johanna Ortiz printed silk midi dress, Ulla Johnson chiffon dress. 

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