Here we are again, Milan Fashion Week starts tomorrow and finally some brands have understood that with great social media power comes great responsibility. Right now it is more of a panic situation with Tom Ford leading the group of Ready-to-Buy collections to be presented on the runways. No more 6 months of waiting for something that you see on the live-streaming shows. As always there are two sides to the story.
The first fashion shows in late 1800 started in the Parisian ateliers to show customers their latest creations. American retailers copied the idea in the early 1900 and started staging their own shows in the department stores. These events for the elite clientele were an opportunity for customers to shop while drinking champagne, I imagine rich housewives out and about town for another event where they go to see and be seen.
In the 70s, the fashion industry became a more structured one and the fashion brands started having private shows away from the department stores. Here the collections were presented to the eyes of industry insiders like big buyers from stores and fashion journalists. This was an opportunity for the designers to get an immediate feedback for the collection that would hit the stores in 6 months. Production-wise it is a smart move, having to produce just a sample collection to be seen on the runway and then produce only the pieces that buyers have ordered and journalists want to feature in their magazines.
everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same
Fast forward to the day bloggers came on the fashion scene armed with phones, internet connection, and immediate access to publishing platforms online and the game started to change. Now, everyone, was online live-watching runway shows from New York to Paris, and everyone was left confused to why they were seeing fur coats and leather boots in March, bathing suits and silk dress in September.
I’ve explained a thousand times to people that ask me randomly for runway show tickets that it is not a party, and as a normal person not working in the industry there is nothing really for you to do or see during Fashion Week. Fashion Week in the current formula is for the industry only, see it more like a Business to Business event where people seating in the first row or 10th row are just there to work and would much prefer to be in a spa somewhere relaxing. But I understand their confusion, during the Fashion Month every paper talks about the clothes, the celebrities, and the parties as if they are something that you as the ultimate buyer should be concerned about. The brands themself have started using social media heavily for self-promotion and they push lots of images from the runway shows. Everyone has become part of ‘ I want it now’ generation so the industry finds itself with Tom Ford, Moschino and Tommy Hilfigher that go the new way of showing Ready-To-Shop collections.
What will happen now? Nothing will really change. It isn’t cost effective to produce collections without first knowing what the big buyers will want to stock in their stores so the brands that can do Ready-To-Buy are just the ones that sell mainly in own boutiques and don’t depend on multi-brand retailers. Upcoming designers need the current structure to invest wisely in their collections. And as an example we have Moschino that prides itself to be the first high-end brand to have done a shoppable runway show. Even in their case just a few items are immediately shoppable, those items being the iPhone cases, cotton t-shirts and knitwear with prints, very low-cost low-risk pieces that for sure aren’t high fashion elaborate designs. Fashion magazines on the other side still need 3 months from the moment they do a fashion shoot or write an article to go to print.
This season even the industry people will be confused because everything needs to change so everything can stay the same.
Photo: Roberto Cavalli Backstage © The Dolls Factory