The president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Steven Kolb, called fashion week as we know it a “broken system.” In December, WWD reported that the CFDA hired Boston Consulting Group to conduct a seven-week-long study to “define the future of fashion shows.” Today, the results are in and the question remains: could these be the steps that fix it?
The full report can be found here, but it’s long. Below, a summary of the CFDA/BCG’s final paper before spring break:
1) There are three main problems, with a little bit of blame being put on the weather. (I’m considering that a personal victory.)
A. Early store deliveries aren’t lining up with what’s actually going on outside. (Oh cool! Suede! Oh crap. Sweat. Oh yay! Lace! Oh no. Snow.)
– No one wants to buy what they can’t immediately wear out of the store. This means new stuff is going on sale faster — great for the savvy, season-ahead shopper who doesn’t worry about whether or not she’ll still want a fuzzy purple coat next year; bad for anyone trying to make money.
B. Nothing feels new and it’s kind of technology’s fault. Technology has opened up fashion shows to a wider audience who can (and will) watch the clothes in real time. That’s so nice. But…
– This means we get sick of trends and “it” items faster. They’ve been everywhere by the time the real things land in stores.. Think about those gold Gucci shoes…
– Fast fashion brands are faster than the original designers. This adds to the overexposure. It also feeds those who are so hungry for the item they just saw on the runway that they’ll choose Zara over the real thing.
C. Burnout. “The confusion of the fashion cycle, coupled with the increased importance and complexity of pre-collections, leaves less time for the creative process and artisanship and puts immense pressure on critical design and creative talent.”
– The designers want more downtime to think, breathe and you know, actually design.
2) One proposed solution was ‘in-season relevancy.’ AKA: What’s shown on the runway can be bought ASAP.
This off-the-runway-and-into-your-shopping-cart* model won’t work for everyone, so the CFDA is encouraging designers to do what’s best for their brands.
*Not the official name, in case you were wondering.
So let’s say everyone got on board. How would this ‘In-season relevancy’ thing work? Some proposed ideas:
A. “More intimate retail / press appointments or presentations 4-6 months before deliveries, with an option to then have in-season activations when collections are delivered to stores and available online for sale.”
– This would allow buyers to place their orders and offer long-lead press enough time to plan content without putting pressure on the manufacturers.
– If you’re wondering, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SHOW?!” Of the press and buyers interviewed, no one needs the confetti and hoopla.
– Something to consider: there would have to be some sort of control over/embargo on the images and information. No one seemed too worried about this though. The CFDA feels confident the industry will cooperate as it benefits everyone involved. Say goodbye to that oversaturated Instagram feed…
B. “Consider creating bi-annual, in-season consumer-relevant activations during or after New York Fashion Week around the main and pre-collections to be delivered to stores immediately and for the next several months.”
– This will be totally optional.
– It may not mean a traditional show. If it does, the show doesn’t have to feature buy-now looks.
– Those words “consumer-relevant” are open for interpretation. “Examples could range from digital campaigns to small parties / events, to short films, to large-scale, high-production entertainment shows.” It also doesn’t mean consumers will be guests at these events. (Consumers: there in spirit!)
– Timing and location may become less rigid, too. Designers don’t necessarily have to show “in their city” nor during traditional fashion weeks. Hedi Slimane is like, “Way ahead of you guys.”
C. The Hybrid
– Designers would show in the traditional season-ahead format, but a capsule collection reflecting the clothes on the runway would be available for purchase in real-time. Apparently, this proposed method was preferred by many of the luxury brands surveyed.
So that’s the fashion week stuff. Next up on the docket: in-store delivery dates.
“The majority of people interviewed highlighted the need to rethink the delivery cadence to better match the actual, physical season and boost full-price selling. To achieve the goal, retailers and brands need to engage in a targeted dialogue.”
AKA, they’re working on it.
Questions, comments, concerns, ideas on what I should order for lunch? Add ’em below!
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.