Gucci chief executive officer Patrizio Di Marco maintains that trade-timed shows will remain essential to the development of trends, and also as occasions “with a clear business imperative.”
What is the primary purpose of the shows today?
The principal fashion weeks have always reflected the two faces of our industry, namely the business and the glamour. However, their primary function certainly remains as an industry occasion with a clear business imperative.
Since so much of the business is now done in the pre-collections, is the fashion message less important than in the past?
Although the runway shows may represent a smaller percentage of the seasonal buys than the main collection, they do establish the directional trends. Seeing the collections firsthand on the runway and in the showrooms immediately afterwards cannot be replaced by a virtual experience. Nor can all of the meetings that go on around fashion week, which are also another important aspect of these seasonal industry gatherings. The shows have actually been available ahead of time via the Internet for many, many years. Although information now circulates the world in seconds, I don’t believe that automatically means we have to compress our schedules and production times in the same way.
Has fashion’s ongoing yen for earlier and earlier deliveries been proven counterproductive?
We should remember that it is the fashion system, especially in the United States, that drove the idea of having midseason collections to create newness and therefore drive consumer demand. This, in fact, created a heavy burden for designers and manufacturers with multiple and continual production cycles. One of the outcomes of the recession is that people are once again buying closer to demand. It does not imply that they aren’t interested in novelty, but I do think there is now a reaction against what is seen as fast or even disposable fashion. In fact, it is contrary to what we see as a new desire among our customers who are seeking iconic carryover pieces that are cross-seasonal. I think there is a recognition that real quality as reflected by craftsmanship, employing luxury fabrics and materials and applying special treatments, takes time. In a way I like to think of this as “slow fashion,” which is what true luxury always used to represent.