I want it all, and I want it now! It’s still one of the better opening lines ever written. That was 1989 and what the young wanted then was already quite a lot. And it’s only become worse: we’ve all become Very Hungry Caterpillars.
Fashion, a market invented for demanding and trendy individuals, is moving towards immediate gratification too. Burberry’s fashion shows will be ‘see-now-buy-immediately’ from September. One click will buy the item as it is being shown on the catwalk. That is revolutionary for a sector used to presenting next summer’s collection after the previous one has just ended.
Copy cats will no longer have an opportunity to put their designer-based fakes on the shelves months ahead of the real thing hitting the shops. Vogue’s Sarah Mower described the fashion fast forward move as follows: ‘It feels as if the whole fashion landscape, from top to bottom, is changing at last’.
And about time too. We could already watch the big shows and tweet about the new collection but that was a case of old wine in new bottles. With the present trend everybody will be allocated a new role, including the fashion expert who will no longer blog about future trends but about what is happening at the moment. High fashion and fast fashion are merging into a 21st version of the fashion industry. The well-heeled will get whatever they want the moment they want it.
The ‘I want it all, I want it now’ mentality is not limited to fashion. Manufacturing, and 3D-printing in particular, is heading the same way. Starting out with little plastic gadgets made with an improvised printer, it is now making great strides.
Recently I attended the opening of an innovation centre for new technology, the 3D Makers Zone in the Waarderpolder in Haarlem. One of the cases presented there was the production of a new switch for a KLM flight simulator. The traditional route to replace broken switches is to order a new one at Boeing who will take three months to produce it – far too long if you take into account that a flight simulator that stands idle costs €100,000 a day. The 3D-printed switch is ready within a week, at 10% of the cost.
Will we ever have enough? Of course we will, just like the caterpillar in Eric Carle’s book. After it has gorged its way through ice creams, lollies, salami and watermelon it has built up enough reserves to turn into a beautiful butterfly. The modern end user will instantly get the product of his choice, tailor made, in the same way.
This column appeared earlier in the Financieele Dagblad
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