A giant question mark looms above the fashion calendar.
Fashion designers and labels are increasingly unpicking the seams of tradition and are choosing when, where, and how they show collections to best suit their business needs, as opposed to being confined within the traditional fashion calendar. The idea of seasons, and whether there’s a need for separate men’s and women’s shows are being questioned and challenged while see-now-buy-now models are explored and adopted. Designer burnout has emerged as an issue and so has the question of whether the production process can withstand the changes and be squeezed into a shorter time frame.
Last month, the fashion label Public School, for example, held one of its two annual runway shows after announcing in April it would combine its men’s and women’s collections and show them in June and December, as opposed to New York Fashion Week in September and February. And this September, Tommy Hilfiger is planning a specific consumer show, where people can shop immediately, as designer Rebecca Minkoff did last year.
“We’re in a period of great transformation and disruption,” Anne Fulenwider, Marie Claire’s editor in chief, said in a recent interview. “But out of that comes great creativity and solutions. We all need to keep talking about it.”
While there’s no one size fits all approach, and different countries are taking their own stance, we asked industry experts if the changes are just hype, or whether they signal a revolution in the fashion industry.
Timo Weiland, fashion designer, Timo Weiland
The evolution of the fashion calendar is more of an adaptation of the industry to address the more-pressing, immediate needs of the consumer. As the rest of the industry rapidly changes in terms of the design and creativity side, it only makes sense for the manufacturing and business end to follow suit especially with the advent of the internet, e-commerce, etc. over the past 20 plus years.
Misha Nonoo, fashion designer, Misha Nonoo
In hindsight, we will see this as a monumental shift in the industry but it will be tied into other factors and global events, such as globalization and global warming, as opposed to being the singular event that turned the industry on its head. The way we consume information has changed so radically and dramatically in such a short period of time that it was inevitable that the fashion industry would be affected by this.
Steve Kolb, CEO and president, Council of Fashion Designers of America
It’s an evolution, not a revolution. Every brand has to do what’s right for them and over the next couple of seasons it’ll be a little confusing because people are going to be trying different things. The way change is going to happen is by trying, and those that succeed will set the example for others that might follow, and those that fail will be the lesson for others not to go in that direction.
Jackie Chiquoine, associate editor retail intelligence, WGSN
It’s less of a retail revolution and more a move to becoming season-less, and a less structured system. Brands that really jump on changing too quickly might want to go back. By doing see-now-buy-now you’re committing to a different manufacturing process which can be difficult to sustain. Widespread changes are all hyped, but at the same time there are definitely big changes for the fashion industry. Vetements for example is showing in July, rather than October, when they would sell its spring collection, the most interesting point will be to see how it sells.
Elizabeth Elder, research associate, L2
The change in calendar is a bandaid over a bigger issue: Most fashion brands do not understand their digital consumer. Brands may boast engaged users on Instagram, but those users aren’t necessarily going to become lifetime customers. Brands should be focused on understanding how to transfer users online into customers offline.
Jenny Cossons, head of partnerships, Lyst
I don’t think it’s hype, I don’t know if it’s a revolution either. It’s things like unifying, so rather than doing a separate men’s and women’s show it’s prioritizing. It’s people really trying to make the best use of their budgets. In terms of the production calendar I think you’ll find very nimble businesses able to create that calendar for themselves because they can control their production much quicker, but then some of these larger maisons where there’s so much to it and so many people involved, that that will just be a gradual pace.
Mei Pritchard, senior art director, Lloyd&Co
There’s definitely been a little bit of a hype, but we’ll have to sit back and wait and see. Logistically there has to be some sort of calendar, where all the models are in one place. We shoot a whole catalog just before the show because the model are there in the outfits. It’s a weird year, a transition year. People are testing things out and seeing what happens.