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What Fashion Calendar?

All eyes on Gucci as it says bye bye to Fashion Week.

Fashion week is NO MORE! thats according to Gucci.

In a virtual press conference, the label’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, announced that Gucci was slashing the number of fashion shows it holds each year from five to two. Declaring the fashion week calendar obsolete, Michele said he was no longer adhering to a rota staked out by spring/summer, autumn/winter, cruise and pre-fall shows. “I think these are stale and underfed words … clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them,” he said. Instead, the brand will show “seasonless” collections twice a year. There are no plans for a show in September, when the Gucci collection would normally be staged as a key part of Milan fashion week.

All fashion shows have stopped in its tracks due to Covid-19, with mens-wear and haute couture shows scheduled for June and July cancelled, and the September fashion weeks in doubt. A question mark hangs over not just when – but whether – any of the events will ever come back.

“Above all, we understand we went way too far,” Michele writes on Instagram. “Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in. We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty.”

Michele, who has a passion for flowery maximalism that encompasses his prose as well as his clothes, added: “We usurped nature, we dominated and wounded it. We incited Prometheus, and buried Pan."

“So much haughtiness made us lose our sisterhood with the butterflies, the flowers, the trees and the roots. So much outrageous greed made us lose the harmony and the care, the connection and the belonging.”

As the mightiest brand to come out in support of a move to a leaner, less wasteful fashion system, this announcement is significant.

Discussions on the topic of sustainability has been ongoing in the industry for the past month, but the big brands have until now been mostly silent.

The biggest labels, which have profited the most from the system as it stands and have the necessary financial cushion to ride out the incoming economic crisis, have been less motivated to radical change than smaller brands. By throwing their weight behind the forces of change, Gucci has the ability to shift the balance of power in this conversation.

Last month, Saint Laurent announced it would sit out Paris fashion week this September and set its own schedule going forward, a decision made in amid “waves of radical change”.

The brand will “lead its own rhythm … [and] take ownership of its calendar”. Saint Laurent’s opt-out was notable because its catwalk shows, held on the Friday evening of each Paris fashion week on a huge open-air catwalk directly beneath the Eiffel Tower, have become a red-letter date in the French fashion calendar, drawing a supermodel cast, a celebrity front row and large crowds who watch from behind barriers. The absence of a marquee name central to the notion of Parisian chic is a blow to Paris fashion week’s status as the heart of French fashion.

Gucci’s revenue for 2019 was €9.6bn (£8.6bn), dwarfing its Kering stablemate Saint Laurent, which recorded revenue of €2bn for the same period. As the largest and most profitable brand in the Kering luxury group, which also owns Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, Gucci exerts influence across the industry.

Gucci’s influence is not merely economic. Since taking over five years ago, Michele has positioned himself at the progressive edge of fashion’s engagement with culture.

On the catwalk, his male models wear pussy-bow silk blouses and babydoll dresses. He has dressed the pop star Harry Styles in pearl earrings on stage and the actor Jared Leto in a floor-length evening gown on the Met Gala red carpet.

His embrace of gender fluidity has revolutionised the traditional codes of menswear embedded in Italian fashion, and shifted the mainstream away from what he has called “an aesthetic of toxic masculinity”.

Overhaul of the fashion week system and its heavy carbon footprint has been mooted for years, but in 2020 change is becoming an economic necessity. Kering and LVMH, the two largest luxury groups, recorded a drop in revenue of about 15% for the first three months of this year.

Jean-Marc Duplaix, Kering’s chief financial officer, told Womenswear Daily last month that the group was planning “drastic” cost reductions at brand level as it braced for ongoing poor results.

In recent years, Gucci has staged blockbuster shows at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, in addition to events during fashion week. The latest cruise collection had been scheduled for an unveiling in San Francisco last week, until the pandemic forced cancellation.

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First Major U.S. Department Store to Sell Hijabs

Macy's is launching a women's line of clothing aimed at Muslim shoppers.

The chain announced it has teamed up with a boutique called Verona Collection and will sell the collection of "modest" dresses, tops, cardigans and hijabs online. The collection will launch on Macy's website on Feb. 15.

The brand was developed by Lisa Vogl, a graduate of Macy's minority- and women-owned business development program, which aims to offer more fashion diversity.

Though Macy's is the first major U.S. department store to sell hijabs, it joins brands like Nike, for example, who aim products at Muslims. Nike launched a high-performance hijab last year made for athletes. 

Nike to make a push into Fashion

Nike is partnering with Matthew Williams, the founder of luxury streetwear brand Alyx, in a conscious move to make its performance category more fashionable. Matthew's work takes cues from the current youth culture and is recognised for his more practical approach to fashion, will launch his 18-piece fashion collaboration with Nike in mid July, which includes outerwear, monochrome leggings and a wide range of accessories such as logo-ed socks, face masks and towels.

Matthew's partnership with Nike, which has men’s, women’s and unisex collections, will be within Nike’s Training category, making this one of its first major collaborations with a fashion designer within the division. He founded Alyx in 2015 and has been working on the collaboration with Nike for the past year and a half.

He has a young fan base, and his brand's roots in merging street culture with practical garment construction, fits well with Nike’s Training division. But the collection also symbolises a wider strategic shift in the sport firm’s ambition to join its performance and lifestyle divisions, as it responds to the buying behaviours of young consumers, who often see less of a distinction between the two categories.

Nike still remains the world’s leading sportswear player in terms of revenue, but its performance-driven approach to apparel and footwear has lost some degree of “cool” in the eyes of young consumers, who often favour aesthetic and lifestyle features over performance and still make up a majority of the company’s clientele. Nike’s designer collaborations, including those with Kim Jones, Olivier Rousteing and Riccardo Tisci, also made a smaller cultural impact than those launched by Adidas.

( Photos Credit: Nick Knight )

Live Video Shopping in a Covid19 World

Video platforms like Zoom have rekindled the technology side of businesses, and helped reimagine how retail can target everyone working from home, to shop from home and new creative partnerships are springing up.

In June, Frame entered into a four-month pilot agreement with Bambuser AB to bring its consumers a new kind of shopping experience through live video shopping.

“This partnership allows us to create an even more immersive shopping experience and engage with our customers in real-time in circumstances when we can’t interact in-person,” said Jens Grede, cofounder and creative director of Frame. “We’re always looking for ways to enhance our shopping experience and Bambuser’s live shopping video feature allows us to blend our off-line and online channels in an engaging and entertaining way that more prominently highlights our current collections.”

Bambuser was founded in Stockholm in 2007 as the “world’s first company with a platform for interactive mobile live video broadcasting” though introduced live video shopping just last year. The company’s proprietary streaming technology is an end-to-end solution that enables mobile livestreaming directly on a brand or retailer’s web site.

“With the live shopping videos, we’re taking a leap into the future of retail and allowing brands to interact with their audience in the way they interact with each other, online or via smartphones,” said Sophie Abrahamsson, chief business development officer at Bambuser. “As the e-commerce space has grown over the past few months, retailers are looking for more efficient ways to deliver their products and brand experience to their consumers while they’re unable to interact in-person.”

“Brands like Frame are interested in taking their e-commerce channel to the next level by creating an even more engaging digital shopping experience where consumers can shop their latest pieces while also asking everything they want to know about it and getting feedback in real-time,” Abrahamsson said.

“We’ve seen an increase in e-commerce sales over the past few months and believe that consumers will continue shopping online even as some cities begin to reopen,” Grede said. “We pride ourselves on providing authentic and seamless customer experience and believe that brands need to create an e-commerce platform that helps consumers shop on their terms. Right now, consumers are looking for seamless and contactless ways to shop their favorite brands whether it’s shopping online, curbside pickup or one-on-one virtual shopping appointments — and our biggest priority is to continue to ensure the health and safety of our customers and workforce.”

Through the new functionality, Frame will be hosting live shopping videos on a monthly basis tapping into its large base of influencers and stylists to present the newest products and collections. The videos will highlight clothing fit, fabric technology and styling.

“Working with influencers and stylists has been a part of Frame’s DNA since Day One having collaborated with notable names in the industry like Imaan Hammam, Karlie Kloss and Tamara Mellon to name a few,” Grede said. “It only made sense to continue providing our customers with the best content and insight into fashion with stylists and influencers who’ve been longtime friends and supporters of the brand.”

The first live shopping video was hosted by Zanna Roberts Rassi, E! News style correspondent. During the session, Roberts Rassi walked through how to style various looks from the brand’s latest products and answered questions submitted by viewers.

According to Bambuser’s web site, its live video shopping technology sees an average of 6.2 times engagement rate compared to the industry average and 4.7 times the add-to-cart rate.

“Technology is a driving force that’s helping consumers and businesses alike navigate through the new normal we’re living in. It can help us now more than usual, as it allows us to connect people, products and data together, as well as give you access to share information around the world practically instantaneously so that everyone can stay connected. For businesses, this is crucial in order to survive during these unprecedented times by efficiently connecting virtually with their teams and customers,” Abrahamsson said.

On July 10, Bambuser announced a new partnership with Moda Operandi.


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