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Is the end of the seasonal fashion cycle in sight?

By Vivian Hendriksz


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The new women’s weekly magazine, Stylist, has managed to take on a discussion which has long been raging within the fashion industry and bring it to a wider audience. The free weekly publication, winner of the 2014 Innovation Award at the 12th edition of the “Magazine de l'année", is one of the first format magazines (with an average circulation of over 400 thousand copies a week throughout France with a wider distribution than Elle, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Biba), that does not beat around the bush and without restraints discusses the topic which has every industry professional engaged at the moment - the fact that seasoned fashion collections have indeed become obsolete.

“The blurring of the seasonal fashion cycle is not a fad"

In the research article, written by Antoine Leclerc-Mougne, which first appeared in the February 26th issue, the weekly magazine points the finger at the incongruity (seen by all as of now) of discovering the spring-summer collections just when the cold is beginning to descend and, vice versa, having to choose from "full winter" clothing in the midst of a languidly extensive Indian summer. He also notes that wealthy clientele no longer feel the need to comply with a rhythm that is no longer in tune with their lifestyle. But there is a glimmer of hope that these habits, although they do not seem to be changing with the retailers, are changing in the design studios. “In the spring-summer collections 2015, Jil Sander presented leather socks, at Louis Vuitton woolen tights and Miu Miu and Sonia Rykiel showed fur collars.”

“The blurring of the seasonal fashion cycle is not a fad,” states Frédéric Monneyron, chief lecturer at the Faculty of Fashion Design & Management of Mod’Art in Paris. “It is also a way of reflecting more profound change in our lifestyles and our behaviours. Namely, our need to travel and move around more often, and so we come into contact with different climates during the same season.” When focusing this approach in the luxury sector, it addresses a clientele who has the possibility, if they wish, to experience summer all year round. However, it can also been applied to consumers who may have less wealth, but nevertheless are interested in fashion and aim to wear the emerging trends as soon as possible.

"Creating a new shopping period in an industry in recovery"

The fashion industry and its clothing has adapted to the actual rhythm of the seasonal changes and therefore after a collection is presented now it is available shortly afterwards, and not six months later (or too late?). For example, last September during the final fashion week for the Spring-Summer 2015: Moschino and Fausto Puglisi were the first labels to sell part of their collections online a day after the show, in collaboration with # Lvr1St, a platform created by the luxury Italian boutique Luisa via Roma. An even more recent example can be seen in the new footwear collection from Sarah Jessica Parker for Tome, which was presented during the fashion week in New York for Autumn-Winter 2015-2016 and is already for sale.

Is the "real-time" selling of "out of season" clothes as soon as they are presented a matter of common sense? Yes, but it is also a matter of survival. According to the Stylist article, the creation of a new purchase period not only imminent, but crucial for a sector that is recovering. "Off-season fashion, such as capsule collections, collaborations and cruise collections, is a way of increasing appointments and the desire to buy something new. It is also a way of shortening the business cycle and facilitating the brand's cash flow. Because between presenting a collection and obtaining the first sales, profits are often slow to reimburse the costs (customer orders, garments, media planning, distribution...). Brands often pay a lot of money to host their fashion shows and presentations. Fast sales allows them to fill the cash flow quickly. The sooner they get paid, the better.”

Should we abandon the seasonal fashion cycle?

The conclusion of the article: “The more collection pieces available for sale after a show, the more desirable they become (unlike everything we have learned about the rules of seduction), but also the better protected the collection become. By reducing the interval between the time they present their new collection and the time they are offered for sale, the brands are able to short-circuit the major fast-fashion retailers that source their inspiration from the shows and flood their stores with copies before the original is released. By reclaiming these delays and determining the time of sale individually, brands are transforming a dead time into a new peak time.”

The author’s conclusion is as worthy as some of the industry’s best forecasters: "Between the collections that are available online the day following the shows - even though they are designed to be worn six to eight months later - and brands that act as if they are unaware of the seasonal temperature variation, we shall have to accept that the very concept of seasonal fashion has become ‘so last season.’”

Original article written by FashionUnited's correspondent in Paris, Hervé Dewintre

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