What is Happening with Fashion Week, Anyway?

Fashion Month is in full swing and the topic every media outlet seems to be covering, more than the clothes themselves, is the fashion calendar itself and the move to “Buy it Now” fashion on the runway. WWD reported several months ago that CFDA has hired Boston Consulting Group to provide analysis on whether New York fashion week should remain a season ahead and those results were released last week.

Meanwhile in Europe, several major British brands including Burberry announced they would be showing their current season collections at Fashion Week moving forward. In contrast, The Paris Fashion Week Federation announced it would not be adopting the concept of current season runway collections.

We have spent a lot of time researching and staying abreast of the issue as our agency works with many designers who show during NYFW as well as at other fashion weeks around the world. The fashion calendar was developed based on the time it takes from conception to production and the timeline of that process hasn’t changed much over the years.

However, social media and the immediate access the public has to runway images has led many to conclude that consumers will be bored of fashion week collections by the time they hit the stores. Fast fashion’s ability to have “runway-inspired” clothing available in stores within a few weeks of the runway shows adds to this concern. One factor that is often left out of this debate is how a shift to buy-it-now runway shows would impact designers, particularly smaller designers.

The fashion calendar was developed based on the time it takes from conception to production and the timeline of that process hasn’t changed much over the years.

After all, it still takes many months to develop a collection. There is the design process itself, sourcing production, presenting the collection, securing orders from buyers and producing and delivering said orders.

A shortened calendar runs the risk of rushing the creative process for the designer while increasing pressures to produce in factories that do not provide safe working conditions. Smaller designers do not have the bandwidth to shorten the timeline of the fashion calendar. This movement toward immediate purchasing could lead to a huge industry shake-up, and concerningly, larger barriers to entry for new and emerging designers.

Smaller designers do not have the bandwidth to shorten the timeline of the fashion calendar.

We recommend that new designers retain their commitment to the fashion calendar, but work with a PR team that is equipped to develop more creative angles to secure press. For example, sending a post event release to fashion editors with an overview of the collection and show is no longer enough to garner media attention. It is important to develop a full press strategy and exploit all angles and aspects of the show, from the beauty looks created to celeb attendees and branded partnerships. This past season, we partnered with beauty apps and developed blogger loyalty programs all in an effort to increase visibility for brands and also get the attention of buyers and media. Developing strategic partnerships and sponsorships remains crucial for designers looking secure a strong return on their fashion week investment.

It is important to develop a full press strategy and exploit all angles and aspects of the show, from the beauty looks created to celeb attendees and branded partnerships.

Overall, it remains to be seen how fashion weeks around the world will change in the coming seasons, but it is important for brands and their PR teams to pay close attention to buyer and consumer trends, and to incorporate those preferences into fashion week activities and outreach.

About This Author

Lori Riviere is the founder of The Riviere Agency, a boutique full service integrated marketing, PR, social media and events firm with offices in New York and Miami. She has worked with clients assisting them with sales, marketing, PR, social media and fashion show production. Her lifetime in the industry gives her a deep understanding of what it takes to build a successful brand. Lori has worked with top brands such Oscar de la Renta and Tory Burch as well start-ups and small businesses. She and her team also handle production and front of house PR for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week shows in New York and Miami. She has placed clients in major magazines both in the US and abroad, national television, radio, fashion blogs and major social media influencers as well as celebrity seeding. .