So What Exactly Is Resort Season?

Your FAQs, right this way


When you write about fashion, it is extremely easy to get caught up in the clothes and what they mean within the context of the fashion calendar instead of thinking bigger picture — like, what exactly is this season? When does it ship? How did it get started and why should I care? Given that the resort collections have been in full swing since Chanel showed its offering in Cuba the first week of May, here is some helpful information that might make navigating feel less like a case of kid-looking-for-mom-at-supermarket and more like kid-shopping-at-supermarket-for-mom, if you know what I’m saying.

Q1: What exactly is Resort, and how is it different from Cruise or Pre-Spring?

A: Trick question! There is no difference — resort, cruise, pre-spring and sometimes even “holiday” are all interchangeable terms to describe the same pre-collection that comes after fall clothes have gone on sale but before spring clothes have been delivered to stores.

Q2: Why does it exist?

A: Funny you should ask! It was originally intended as a de facto resort collection. That is, clothing you would take on vacation. Light fabrics, bathing suits, hats — you name it, they made it. Not every fashion house subscribed to the lifestyle signified by resort (namely because it was geared toward women wealthy enough to travel in the winter), though it was a common theme among brands targeting the upper echelons of the industry.

Q3: That’s cool. So why are there now, like, fur coats and wool dresses in resort collections?

Well! Evolution is really interesting in that it does not only apply to monkeys becoming men. As the consumer appetite grew for clothing deliveries outside the traditional seasons of spring and fall (which most commonly drop in stores in February and September, respectively), more brands opted to include resort collections in their offerings. With this increase in supply came a new purpose for the clothes — namely to be able to wear them whether you were going to travel or not.

Q4: So when does it ship?

Right around “resort” season — mid-November to catch the Thanksgiving rush and carry you straight through Christmas.

Q5, 6: Weren’t you in London last week for a couple of resort shows? Does everyone have a show, or show a collection?

It’s becoming more and more common. It used to be that brands would release look book images to media outlets that would then be published without actually hosting formal presentations or shows, but some designers have taken the pre-collections to the hashtag-next-lev. Dior and Gucci showed their resort collections in London in June. Louis Vuitton showed in Rio in May. Chanel was in Cuba a few weeks earlier. I think I heard the next show might take place on Mars!

Q7: Really?


Q8: So for the designers who do show, are the collections smaller? Is the experience different?

It is certainly more intimate. There’s no street style fanfare (though that is starting to change, too) and commonly, the collections are a little smaller — though the bigger houses like Gucci or Chanel are still stockpiling something like 90+ looks. Whoa!

Q9: Do you find it necessary?

Frankly, it seems like a lot of pressure — particularly on a young designer — to churn out so many collections every year. Why not just split the “mainline” collections into two drops? This way stores and consumers are getting four installments of fresh product at different times. Of course, this won’t actually happen. Resort is, technically speaking, a really important season for vendors.

Q10: Oh, really, why?

Well! It remains on sales floors longest without actually going on sale. If Spring ships between February and April, with most product coming in around mid-March when it’s freezing and no one cares about raffia trim, that gives it, like, six weeks before it goes on sale. With resort, though, which you now know lands in November, product stays on sales floors at full price until mark downs start at the end of May. Ba da bing! Ba da boom!

I guess this all presents the larger question, though, of how much stuff we, the consumer, really need, no?

Runway images via Vogue Runway.


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  • stella

    Really interesting!

    Now I’m wondering: How does this cycle affect when/how less exclusive brands–like jcrew, for example–introduce new items/lines/looks? Does it at all?

    Are consumers who can’t afford high fashion still, perhaps unknowingly, participating in this same cycle of seasons, including an ever-expanding resort season?

  • Honestly, this veers a little too close to fast fashion for me to be totally on-board with it. It plays into the notion that the consumer wants to buy something they can wear NOW instead of planning their purchases accordingly – even if we are still getting a preview of what is not yet available – the fact that warm weather wear shows up in the middle of winter to capitalize on a very specific want stresses me out.

    • Babyslice

      also as a designer i feel like ONE single collection per year is a lot for me to churn out creatively

  • diane

    I never appreciated resort wear until I moved to the West Coast, where you can wear such clothing all year long (making it worth the price).

  • Natty

    can kids buy moms at supermarkets?

  • The pre-collections – resort/fall are a bit of an you said, they used be more lookbooks than actual shows themselves. Considering the scale of production at recent resort shows, they definitely do not feel intimate… Considering resort has elements of winter & summer as well as the initial concept of clothes that one would take for vacation is also not valid anymore, why not replace a few seasonal shows with these… it makes more commercial sense than having to mark down a lot of inventory every season… I may not like it as a consumer, but as a creative and business person, I can imagine this would help foster creativity while being good for business… Or I am just completely missing the point here??

  • Kelsey O’Donnell

    I love posts like these that provide insight into how the industry operates, what is required of designers, and why that requirement exists. Would you consider doing an open Q&A installment in which you pick a certain aspects of the industry like this, provide a brief overview and history, and then explicitly open it up to Q&A by the readers to be addressed in a follow up post? For instance, regarding the topic “Resort” I would love to know:

    1) How much does it cost a young designer to prepare and present a Resort collection?

    2) Is there a formula now for Resort, or do designers try and keep an eye on the market/consumer interests? For instance, do they gear their collection more towards beach vacations or snowy escapes, depending on consumer interests?

    3) What does a designer risk if they choose not to present a Resort collection?

    4) If someone wanted to shake up the industry in a big way, i.e. opt out of Resort for, as you suggested, presenting half a collection earlier, and half later, what would be the advantages of doing that? What would be the risks? Is there a way for vendors and designers to work together so they could come up with a win/win?

    5) Would you provide a summary overview of when collections are presented, when they hit stores, and when they’re marked down? Like maybe with bullet points? Please?