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23-09-2010
  1
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In this age, why do designers wait 6 mos to sell their collections?
The new fashion forward

In the 21st century, asks Sarah Mower, why are designers waiting six months to sell their collections?

BY Sarah Mower | 22 September 2010




Shearling aviator jacket, £2195 by Burberry

Beige leather jacket, £3150 and felted wool and leather coat, £2129, both by Céline



It seems such a long time ago that the autumn/winter collections were shown that it's almost a shock to look back at the photographs now. Since then, we've had pre-spring collections, couture shows and an outbreak of summer street fashion never predicted on any catwalk - and the spring shows themselves are almost over.

Such is the insanely accelerated speed of the fashion world that the clothes appearing in shops now already seem not to be the latest thing, their significance lost, having long ago been chopped into readily digestible chunks and sucked dry through overexposure. An example: I'm guessing you might not have bought anything beige yet, but if you are warming to it, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you'd already been put off, merely on the basis of seeing so many trend pages, including our own, exhorting you to wear it. It's only natural - the mere suggestion of a must-have is enough to send some of us off in the opposite direction. Or perhaps you're suspicious of putting money on something so 'everywhere'. And yet that's quite ironic, really, given that camel, until now, has always been considered a synonym for 'long-wearing, classic investment'.
No one, be it designer, buyer or retailer, thinks this saturation of information and the pressure to produce novelties is a clever way of carrying on, although most have bowed to inevitability and carry on regardless, privately sobbing over unreasonable schedules and the impossibility of being creative at such short order.
Actually, when I come to look again at the revival of the minimalist Nineties - the big visual story of the season - I'm wondering if it could be construed as the entire industry's unconscious longing to wipe out the folly of the past 10 crazy years along with the mess it created for itself.
I have absolutely nothing against the way of dressing that was channelled on autumn's runway - in fact, it echoes the style I wore back then, when androgynous schoolboy trouser suits, mannish tailored coats, plain A-line skirts and white shirts were considered edgy. In the Nineties, if anyone remembers, the strictness of that vision started as a kind of counter-cultural stance against both the baroque and overtly sexy look of mainstream fashion and the girly, boho slip-dress and cardigan outbreak that swept Notting Hill.
The radically sorted-out, slightly intellectual anti-element is partly what I loved about the original feel of minimalism: the way Helmut Lang, Prada, Jil Sander and Martin Margiela used plain, conventional classics in a subversively coded way, while allowing you to pass at work as a serious person. It was the apotheosis of my generation's kind of feminism - a system of dressing that, for the first time, didn't mean having to wear boilersuits and DMs like our pioneer elders.
This winter's echoes of the Nineties miss all that, of course. What we're looking at now is far more feminised. I don't remember soft blouses and high heels back then, and no one obsessed about handbags - in fact, it was regarded as naff to show them on a runway, so much so that the rebellious Marc Jacobs, in the first season he took over at Louis Vuitton, could bring himself to show only one bag, on which the logo was embossed to make it as invisible as possible.
Second time around, the sense of an underground force rising is absent, because the impetus has come from somewhere else. This season's sensible workwear looks are a reflection of the fact that its main protagonists, Phoebe Philo at Céline, Stella McCartney and Hannah MacGibbon at Chloé, have all reached that thirtysomething life stage in which a professional woman, possibly with young children, needs to pull herself together, sartorially speaking. And, in a nutshell, it was the redressing of that balance we saw being played out at the shows.
Certainly, there were male designers, chiefly Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and Michael Kors in New York who picked up on the Nineties vibe, too - Tisci, because it was the style he absorbed while studying at Central Saint Martins, and Kors, because he sensed it was a good moment to revisit his own past and offer a deluxe version of super grown-up NYC dressing, camel coats and all.
But, as logical and welcome as all that might be, just referencing a simpler time can't bring it back - whether it be in the Lang/Margiela/Sander sense, or in the nostalgic Fifties way Marc Jacobs put out at Louis Vuitton (with every model sporting a Speedy bag). Untangling the crazy knots fashion has tied itself up in is a self-inflicted set of problems it has never had to face before. As the real impact of the internet hits fashion, it seems to me there are only two ways of short-circuiting what has evolved into a ridiculous, antiquated cycle. One is to actually deliver the goods when a woman's consciousness is primed to make an impulse buy, when it is fresh (ie, as the shows are happening), which might solve the 'gone off it' syndrome that, like the fate of beige, can kick in later. And the other is to do just the opposite - to keep doing non-faddy things that don't scream 'news', but, instead, stoke desire on a slow, continuous, long-term burn.
When we look back on autumn/winter 2010, we might remember it as the time when this reconfiguration started. You could date one side of the shift from the evening of 23 February, when, immediately after the Burberry show took to the runway, globally livestreamed from a marquee at Chelsea School of Art in London, the fabulous shearling aviator jackets Christopher Bailey showed were there, for sale, at a click of the mouse on the Burberry website.
Within a month, before summer had even started, there were women proudly walking around in their autumn sheepskins. Was that a glimpse of the future? Natalie Massenet, the e-tail guru of Net-a-Porter, thinks it has to be. Interviewed by The Business of Fashion, she said designers should stop showing clothes a season ahead and simply devote catwalk time to unveiling collections immediately available to buy in the shops or online.
Provided everything was kept secret until the big 'reveal' (unlikely, but still), that could also snooker fast-fashion copyists, at least for the six weeks or so in which designers could, for once, rightfully be seen as the ones who originated the ideas the high street scrambles to knock off.
A kind of an idealistic, Brave New World vision, it sounds dumb but isn't, when you look closer. Very big brands that can afford to produce stock upfront in the hope that it might be an instant hit might be able to cope with using their catwalks as, essentially, home-shopping events for broadcasting the sensational items of the season. If you're small, though, you can't take that financial risk. And in any case, I see a simultaneous movement that goes against the old psychology of 'fashion' as something flashy and novel to grab and wear at the same time as everyone else.
Consistent, unchanging, under-exposed, even boringly good things now have a real allure. I caught myself thinking about this when I kept returning to admire a single Stella McCartney outfit - a look of such low-key nothingness it is, I'm beginning to think, brilliantly symbolic. What could be so compelling about a pair of grey trousers, a round-necked grey sweater and a pair of pointy court shoes? Well, it proves this designer genuinely knows how to cut a pair of trousers, that she is proud enough of them to show them unadorned and that, if you go to her store, you will find items of equal quality - and that is valuable shorthand for it being a business a woman can trust.
It's a principle Phoebe Philo is obviously working on at Céline, keeping her designs, such as that for her classic box bag, consistent and avoiding hype, over-availability and over-trendiness at all costs. Even as fashion rushes on from the Nineties - who knows what the revisionary headlines from the spring collections will be in the next few weeks? - I sense that slowing things down, doing them properly over time and waiting for rewards in the long-term is shaping up to be the real underground revolution.


telegraph.co.uk

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23-09-2010
  2
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related article- same source

Tom Ford slows things down...

Is Tom Ford really anti the Internet?

Tom Ford debuted his first eponymous womenswear collection at New York Fashion Week, and it was a very old-school affair.

BY Belinda White | 15 September 2010
Tom Ford at The Mark Restaurant in New York before the Costume Institute Gala, May 2010.



If ever there was a positive manifestation of the label 'control freak', Tom Ford is it. Throughout his Gucci glory years, his unhappy tenure at Yves Saint Laurent and his subsequent forays into menswear, fragrance, cosmetics and film (does this man ever sleep?), one thing has remained consistent - his absolute obsession with perfection.



On Sunday night, Ford? made his achingly long-awaited return to womenswear, hosting an intimate soiree at his Madison Avenue Store, decorated "with bare magnolia branches with pink cymbidium orchids individually attached," according to WWD. But as you might well expect, this was not the usual fashion week, celeb-toting bun-fight. Mr Ford, it seems, was not in the mood for sharing.
No photographer, except Terry Richardson (the man behind his ultra sexed-up Tom Ford campaigns) and his own team, was allowed in. The guest list comprised A-list fashion editors, no celebrities, except those personally invited by Ford to model the clothes, and since there were to be no pictures of the event, he could be certain they were all doing it for the right reasons (ie for him). None of the women selected - and they included Beyonce, Lou Doillon, Daphne Guinness, Lauren Hutton and Julianne Moore - got any say in what they wore. Ford took their measurements and simply told them 'trust me'. I mean, who wouldn't?
"I'm holding everything back, controlling all the photography." Ford told WWD the next morning. "I'm sure there were some leaks last night from people shooting with cell phones. I wish that that hadn't happened. I don't know if it did - I'm sure it did. I'm holding all the clothes back. The clothes are not going out to magazines before January issues. The clothes are not going to celebrities before December. The images are not being released online until December, when they'll go online on my website."
While Ford's closed-set approach to fashion week has been perceived by many to be anti-internet, even regressive (after all what's a show without a show?), I think the bigger picture is actually the reverse.
Currently, as Ford explains "you see the clothes, within an hour or so they're online, the world sees them. They don't get to a store for six months. The next week, young celebrity girls are wearing them on red carpets. They're in every magazine. The customer is bored with those clothes by the time they get to the store. They're overexposed, they've lost their freshness, you see somebody wearing it and you say, 'Oh, that's that jacket that was in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.' Or [a] customer doesn't want to wear that jacket that was in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. In addition, all of the fast-fashion companies that do a great job, by the way, knock everything off. So it's everywhere, all over the streets in three months and by the time you get it to the store, what's the point?"
Speaking as someone who has worked in fashion for 15 years now, I couldn't agree more. I spend my days dreaming about coats, jumpers and boots when I should be enjoying summer, and craving sandals when the temperature is Siberian. There's no better example of this than the shows themselves, where right now you will find the world's fashion experts proving how on-trend they are by sweating in climate-inappropriate cashmere camel coats.
And now we have pre-fall and resort to factor in, not to mention high summer and Christmas collections on the high street, I truly have no idea what I should be wearing or even what year it is most of the time.
Tom Ford has simply caught on to what Roland Mouret - who pioneered ordering from the catwalk - has been saying for years. Consumers are tired of seeing clothes they can't buy for six months, if ever. Real people - you know, the ones who actually pay for clothes - want to see something they like and buy it. Today, please.
OK, so I'm stretching the truth a bit here. In reality Ford's approach is more to do with his control issues than a sign that he is about to become a digital visionary, but either way Ford wins. If there's this much interest now, imagine the frenzy of anticipation come December. Unless, that is, one of those pesky bloggers sneaks a Twitpic first.

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23-09-2010
  3
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Fashion has become too fast, yes. It really needs to be slowed down. Like many, by the time the actual season arrives for the collection, I forgot what it looked like and it feels old. Not to mention there are way too many shows and collections that I get confused what actual season it is.

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24-09-2010
  4
flaunt the imperfection..
 
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i've been talking about this here on tFS for a VERY long time now...
the system that is in place now is outdated and isn't working...

something has got to change...
what does the future hold?

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24-09-2010
  5
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I honestly don't see anything wrong with SLOWING down everything in fashion. A fashion show for the season should be done just before the season begins so we know what's modern and then can pick and choose what we like from the trends right then and there. We just had the first day of Fall and the Spring shows for next year are almost done - practicality demands that I cannot think about Spring until Spring comes. Right now I'm trying to buy boots and some new sweaters and pants.

The speed of fashion is ridiculous.

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24-09-2010
  6
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How would this affect the printing business though? If the clothes come out in January, there would be little time to shoot the Jan-Mar issues. They would have to become more rapid....though I guess it just wouldn't exist and it would all be blogs with crummy images and, probably clips.

Ojojoj.


Last edited by iluvjeisa; 24-09-2010 at 01:56 PM.
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26-09-2010
  7
no tom ford, no thanks.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey View Post
i've been talking about this here on tFS for a VERY long time now...
the system that is in place now is outdated and isn't working...

something has got to change...
what does the future hold?
i expect burberry to lead the way in this regard. it's actually fast fashion. that's the future. for those who cannot keep up, i believe that exclusivity will continue to spread in both price points and in the way they present.

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27-09-2010
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as a designer also i am conflicted at times whether to show stuff for the season that'll come in 6 months. by the time i'm ready to sell the stuff i've lost half the interest and my mind is already moved on to what im going to do for the next season. i agree also its a bad system.

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29-09-2010
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i'm the opposite. i need 6 months for an item to grow on me. plus it gives me more time to plan my wardrobe.

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29-09-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coulbourne View Post
as a designer also i am conflicted at times whether to show stuff for the season that'll come in 6 months. by the time i'm ready to sell the stuff i've lost half the interest and my mind is already moved on to what im going to do for the next season. i agree also its a bad system.
Understand where you're coming from.
It should be possible to sell items whenever you want instead of waiting six months IMO.

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29-09-2010
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yes-
burberry did it last season- with everything being able to be ordered directly after the show...

and net a porter did it with halston-
I think nap was the first actually...

and now...gareth pugh is joining in...
with a scarf from his s/s2010 collection available for sale now...on showstudio.com
6 mos prior to the actual collection going on sale...
i know it's only a scarf...but it's also a sign of things to come...imo...

:p

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29-09-2010
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^ didn't know that.
Really hope that the scarf is the beginning of something great haha

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29-09-2010
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I can't think of a solution that won't require a great deal of re-adjusting and painful maneuvering...however...it simply has to be done. It just has to! Fashion is moving too quickly that it's literally killing itself.

How can we expect designers to be exceptionally creative when we require so much from them in so little time? And how can we expect customers to not grow tired of the product before it even arrives on the sales floor? And how can you expect mass-market retailers not to knock off the collections...I mean...once it's on the catwalk, it isn't going to be sold until another six months...but these mass-market retailers can essentially put the same product out within a month! It's just so sick!

And to be honest, I'm not crazy about the Burberry solution. I don't think being able to purchase the real deal right after the live show really solves anything. It's just a band-aid and it's rather gimmicky, too.

Firstly, collections need to stop being shown six months in advance. Of course, there has to be a few months to allow for production, but fall orders certainly can be sent in several shipments. There's no reason for the whole collection to be available the first day of fall! And anyway...fall/winter lasts 6 months! Designers could send the product to stores in four, five, maybe even six staggered separate shipments throughout the actual season to allow for production time of the garments.

Also, I strongly feel that resort and pre-fall collections should be done away with, if not at the very least taken off the calendar. Because, quite frankly, I could care less to see another mediocre week's worth of shows. All we really need is Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture. That's more than enough...six is just too much...that's essentially a new crop of collections every two months!

Thirdly, there's just too many shows per season. I know it would be terribly dictatorial to create restrictions on who can and cannot show, but I believe it is truly necessary. If Haute Couture can have strict guidelines, why can't Ready-to-Wear. There should be regulations and requirements that designers have to meet before they are allowed to be penciled into the fashion week calendar. Maybe it could be something like producing X amount of collections before finally being granted access to producing a runway show?

Not really sure if any of this post made sense...it was more of a brainstorming/gathering of thoughts type of post, but I strongly believe that big changes need to take place. A big part of it, too, is designers and other industry power-players to be brave and take risks in order to make changes. For example, I love Alber to death, and when he talks so passionately about fashion moving too fast, I just get weak in the knees, but then he's still doing a million collections a year, and doing H&M collaborations and secondary lines, etc., etc. Tom Ford is a clear example of someone taking a stand and sticking to their conviction. Hopefully his deliberate restriction and delay of his collection will begin to inspire others to move similarly.

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Last edited by dior_couture1245; 29-09-2010 at 09:10 PM.
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30-09-2010
  14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey View Post
yes-
burberry did it last season- with everything being able to be ordered directly after the show...

and net a porter did it with halston-
I think nap was the first actually...

and now...gareth pugh is joining in...
with a scarf from his s/s2010 collection available for sale now...on showstudio.com
6 mos prior to the actual collection going on sale...
i know it's only a scarf...but it's also a sign of things to come...imo...

:p
as well as Topshop/Topman.

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02-10-2010
  15
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this is all really interesting!! loved reading all the posts.

i think there needs to be a bit of balance... designers need to realise that waiting 6 months isn't working anymore. times are changing, and therefore so should these "rules".

perhaps we should do away with the "seaons" altogether? in september 2010 for example, why not show some wintery items that are for the CURRENT 2010 season, but also more fresh springy items that will be available come feb/march?

Yes the retail giants copy everything - but they're not going to do very well copying a white sun dress in the middle of winter anyway.

I both love and hate the fact that designer influenced garments are made available so readily on the high street. but if the retailers are exploiting the designers, then the designers should really hit back with making their clothing available sooner. then this "boredom" factor wouldn't kick in, and everything would become much exciting and "omg this is happening NOW" - which surely would benefit both designers AND high street.

in a way, this current "celebrity culture", which designers feed by getting celebs to promote and endorse their products, is partly the making of this problem. they give celebrities their stuff earlier, we see it in magazines and want to buy it.

also, fashion has become MUCH more mainstream in the past 10 years. almost every young girl is into it, following catwalk shows, blogging, aspiring to become a designer, idolising celebs... but do these young girls have the $$$ to buy these garments? No of course not, they buy the high street versions. I think designers have to realise that they have a much bigger audience these days, but not one they can cater for... so they need to rethink they're game if they're going to moan about people getting "bored" of their designs.

sorry I hope that all made sense, it just kind of poured out!

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