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Traditional wholesale isn't working anymore. So, what comes next?

Over the past several years — and especially over the last few months — department stores have, well, not faired well.

Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney and Lord & Taylor have all declared bankruptcy, and things haven't worked out for a whole lot of the designers selling to them, especially smaller, independent ones. Retail chains' struggles with declining foot traffic, exorbitant rents and debt have trickled down to the brands they carry, often resulting in cancelled and returned orders and unpaid invoices, the burdens of which brands must carry. 

Even under the best, most economically-sound and virus-free conditions, the wholesale system was running many designers into the ground (as detailed beautifully in this New York Times Magazine piece) by creating constant pressure for newness and exclusives, without necessarily making it worth said designers' while. The pandemic seems to have accelerated the gradual realization that traditional wholesale isn't working. So, what's next?


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