A Change of Pace for Fashion Week?

Several fashion brands, including Burberry and Tom Ford, recently announced they will not be participating in this year’s New York Fashion Week, sparking a debate about the purpose of a fashion show and its effects. Shows at Fashion Week present clothing lines for upcoming seasons, four to six months ahead of their release, meaning a February Fashion Week is for the future fall and winter, while a September Fashion Week is for the future spring and summer. The shows are primarily meant for buyers, but designers are now asking “Who should a fashion show really cater to?”

A consumer-driven schedule is what these designers are pushing for, where a line is revealed during the season it would be sold in, so consumers can get their hands on the clothing as soon as they see it. Designers on board with this argue that when a consumer has to wait between seeing a collection for the first time and buying it in-season, they lose interest; while opposers say consumers won’t be as excited about a reveal of in-season clothes.

When a line is first shown there is time for forecasting trends, analyzing the reactions, manufacturing, and buyers placing orders. However, knock-off brands also use this time to copy designs and mass produce low-quality replicates. The goal for designers following this movement is to keep up with fast fashion, but should fast fashion have a place in the luxury sector of the fashion market?

Brands now face a challenge of driving sales while preserving the tradition of supplying inspiration to the fashion world and treating fashion design as an art form. Redefining fashion shows for consumers, bloggers, press, and buyers will influence the future of not only Fashion Week but the whole industry through the way luxury fashion is presented, trends are created, and through consumer purchasing patterns.

Will all of this mean more frequent fashion shows or even an increase in fashion weeks? The Council of Fashion Designers of America currently has Boston Consulting Group surveying experts in the fashion show industry to explore the possibility of shifts. Perhaps a slight adjustment to the fashion week schedule could be made as a happy-medium to satisfy both parties, by pushing fashion weeks further towards retail deliveries but still allocating a good chunk of time in between. Ultimately, it will be a designer’s choice how to showcase their work, and time will quickly tell how the business of fashion is changed by these decisions.