By tradition, the current worldwide round of runway shows and fashion events comes to an end on March 8, the closing day of the Ready To Wear fashion shows in Paris, but traditions are fluid things in the fashion world these days.
Some are even speaking of a revolution in the way fashion is presented and brought to market.
It all began in February 2016. At that time Christopher Bailey, the creative head of Burberry, announced that he would showcase women’s and men’s fashion in a single show. Whatever was shown on the catwalk would soon after be available in stores.
The fashion industry was perplexed. Certain things were seen as non-negotiable and set in stone, such as separate dates for the women’s and men’s collections. Another was that the fashion on display at the shows is always for the next, upcoming season.
Production processes, order deadlines and delivery rhythms were all based on these principles. Burberry challenged a whole system.
Now, at the beginning of the new season, an increasing number of fashion houses are opting to put on mixed runway shows. Among them are Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Dsquared2, Kenzo, Paul Smith and Calvin Klein.
“In my opinion, this decision is the logical consequence of fashion that understands women and men as a unit,” explains Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director. It’s similar for Dan and Dean Caten, the two founders and owners of Dsquared2: “When we design fashion for men, we automatically think about women – and vice versa.”
Perhaps there are also economic reasons.
“The luxury segment is no longer growing as strongly as it once did. Merging the shows allows brands to save costs,” as Michael Werner, editor in chief of trade weekly TextilWirtschaft, notes. After all, the cost of one show can be a six-figure sum, often more.
Even more radical is the approach behind “see now, buy now,” which provides immediate availability of the items of clothing displayed on the catwalk. More and more brands are using fashion shows as a chance to sell. Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford and Burberry have already moved in this direction.
The internet has made all of this possible. The shows, once reserved to selected journalists and buyers, can be watched by live stream on any computer. According to the “see now, buy now” advocates, the manufacturers should get straight to work when the show is over, adapting the fashion on display to mass demand.
Michael Werner, on the other hand, says “luxury is defined by desire, deceleration and limitation.” For this reason, for example, the great French brands such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Dior have not (yet) implemented this idea.
The juxtaposition of different concepts is likely to create confusion at future fashion shows, even among professional attenders. Everyone agrees that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.
“Even the fact that some brands sell mainly through their own shops can have an influence on the orientation of the show,” says Michael Werner, citing an example of the complexity of the fashion industry.
In addition, fashion shows have always been primarily a marketing tool. The fashion presented is always just a small part of a designer’s whole collection. This principle does not change with “see now, buy now”. – dpa