Is the Model of the Fashion-Industry Gonna Change Forever?

Femininity, geometric shapes and iconic pieces are not the only take-aways to cherish at the closure of the fashion-weeks period. Fashion week seem to be the perfect timing for disruptive announcements, and each one changes profoundly the way we look at the business of fashion: this year, the biggest glamorous earthquake came from New York, let’s see why.

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New York opened the global fashion shows with a disquieting question: is the peculiar seasonality of fashion still a good idea in the current times?  Let me be clearer: brands present their summer collection in September, and their winter collection in March. Nowadays, technology has made fashion shows almost ubiquitous: the ideas behind the collections are no more the monopoly of retailers and industry insiders, but they become now accessible to the wider market well ahead of time. By the time those collections actually reach the market, fast fashion brands already had plenty of time to market their interpretations of the most celebrated designers. The results? Trends and design of the highest brands appear out-of-date when they reach the stores, causing earlier mark-downs and confusion.

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Source: BCG and CFDA report

This is what has been highlighted by a study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group and The Council of Fashion Designers of America headed by Diane Von Furstenberg: the trend is now a “buy now, wear now” strategy. Their solutions? First of all, a model where designers schedule private collections presentations for a selected audience with “embargo” of images, which are to be followed by shows or events involving the consumer in the relevant season: in this way, the press would be able to publish timely and relevant content, and brands would reap greater benefits from well-timed advertising. A second model envisages designers presenting capsule collections to be available for immediate purchase. Some brands are already doing that: Rebecca Minkoff, Burberry and Tom Ford are some of the pioneers, while the Italian Chamber of Commerce still remains on a conservative position, refusing to take actions to address the problem.

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London Fashion Week came with an announcement from Burberry to re-shore some of its production, whereas Milan brought about the following: Ferragamo is partnering with technology by inserting microchips in shoes and bags to start a bloody battle against counterfeits, and rumor has it that Valentino is planning an IPO in the following year, after nearly doubling profit on revenue of more than $1 billion in 2015. Valentino is ripe for growth as Sassi (Valentino’s CEO) believes that revenues will keep growing at double-digit figures. Paris Fashion Week put an end to the games with breaking news: after the departure of Alber Elbaz in October, Lanvin finally named its next women’s creative designer, Bouchra Jarrar. Her major challenge will be to boost the leather goods business, which according to Exane BNP Paribas accounted for almost 30% of the total global luxury market in 2015.

Fashion has an incredible power: it conveys its charm to its business, turning the apparent glam and alluring creativity of fashion weeks into a marvelous and intriguing industry. 2016 will be a year full of promise, and will be at the center of ground-breaking discussions: stay tuned.

Francesca Magri

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