The future of the fashion show is up for debate. With the advent of digital, the rise in the number of brands, the dominance of pre collections, and the increased attempts to directly target the customer, the industry has reached breaking point, which has prompted a shake-up of massive proportions. Now that Burberry has announced its plans to only hold two seasonless annual shows and make its collections available immediately online and in stores, and the news that Tom Ford has cancelled its New York show to adopt a see-now-buy-now model come September, the landslide affect looks certain to ensue. "Logistically looking at the fashion-show construct, it makes very little sense now," says Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman. "If you put a business consultant in to look at what the fashion industry is doing, they would think it was insane." The CFDA's decision in December to do just that and employ Boston Consulting Group to explore viable alternatives to the current format, with the view to turning New York Fashion Week into a customer-facing event, has been a catalyst for the recent discussions. "We have designers, retailers and everybody complaining about the shows," declared its president Diane von Furstenberg in December. "Everything needs to be rebooted." A frank admission from someone in a position to affect change, but, for an industry famous for resisting it, what are the viable options being mooted? Switching seasons - so that during February and March the spring/summer collections would be presented and during September and October the autumn/winter collections - and inviting customers instead of press and buyers is a popular option. The idea is to make the time between seeing the collection and being able to buy the collection shorter, therefore making collections more relevant to the time of year and increasing the chances of purchases before desire has dampened.
Mary Katrantzou spring 2016
It also aims to capitalise on the social-media buzz surrounding a fashion show, when need/want can be instantly satisfied/gratified. New York designers Rebecca Minkoff and Thakoon recently announced they have opted for the "see-now-buy-now model" to do just that, while Burberry hopes to harness the power of the live streams that it has been broadcasting since 2009. Elsewhere, brands such as Moschino, Versace, Dries Van Noten and House of Holland have been experimenting with the notion for some time, selling capsule collections (including as-yet-unseen catwalk looks) to online retailers ahead of the show happening, that drop in the weeks following the show. But debate surrounding the topic raises the question of who are the shows really for? For the schedule to work, four groups of people need to be catered for: the retailers, the customers, the press, and the designers - and the demands from each group are different at each stage in the process.