MILAN — The packed show calendar and macroeconomic uncertainties aside, Italian fashion houses revved up for fashion week, armed with strong order books, long-planned anniversary bashes and a determination — bolstered by strong pre-collection orders — to win over choosy retailers in a challenging environment.
Despite market concerns over climbing oil prices and the economic impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on key U.S. markets, it looks like companies are learning to live with the uncertainty.
"That's part of the game. Tranquil markets don't exist anymore," said Versace chief Giancarlo Di Risio, noting a 35 percent jump in orders for pre-collection apparel and accessories.
Fendi ceo Michael Burke said he's encouraged by pre-collection orders, showing growth as high as 70 percent in some product categories. He's also pleased to see a stronger dollar and swift sales in Asia, but he said it's too soon to judge where the post-hurricane U.S. economy is headed.
"You have to stay tuned — it could have an impact on buyer sentiment," he said.
Vittorio Missoni, marketing director and sales manager at Missoni, concurred. "Clearly, there are concerns about the U.S. and areas like Texas and Florida. Everyone is worried about what happens there. They are extremely important markets," he said, noting Missoni pre-collection orders grew more than 20 percent.
A spokesman for Giorgio Armani said the company isn't at all concerned about the hurricane aftermath and thinks any potential economic slump will be a brief one.
"We're very bullish about spring," he said. Armani's pre-collection apparel orders rose 8 percent, while those of accessories went up 15 percent.
No matter the challenges, fashion houses are steaming ahead with the requisite fashion week parties, two of them splashy birthday fetes. Pringle of Scotland is holding its 190th anniversary party Tuesday night and Dolce & Gabbana will celebrate its 20-year milestone on Thursday. Roman jeweler Bulgari is even getting into the fashion week spirit with a special exhibition of 50 one-of-a-kind white gold and diamond pieces at the Bulgari hotel, here.
As for the season's trends, clean silhouettes dominated pre-collection looks. Common elements include white, florals and lace, the latter ranging from trim to a garment's focus. Missoni is expected to use a softer, more delicate color palette than it has in previous seasons, while Ferragamo is turning to hues like aged metallics, violet and turquoise.The designers need to use strategies to woo increasingly selective retailers, executives said.
"The customer who comes along and falls in love with a product and buys with her eyes shut doesn't exist anymore," observed Antonella Tomasetti, general manager at Moschino. She said brisk business in jackets and accessories fueled a 15 percent jump in pre-collection buying.
Ferragamo ceo Ferruccio Ferragamo, boasting a 10 percent uptick for pre-collection, said his company's new handcrafted accessories collection, Atelier, has performed well. Handbag orders are up 18 percent.
"Buyers are increasingly looking for high-quality products," he added. "The Atelier women's shoe collection is having great success, especially in America."
Alberta Ferretti also emphasized the importance of price-to-quality ratios.
"The buyer is really evaluating what he or she is ordering. I don't feel a sentiment of euphoria coming from the market," she said. Still, her namesake label saw its pre-collection buying jump 38 percent, while her diffusion line, Philosophy, registered a 9.8 percent increase.
But as encouraging as pre-collection orders might be, several fashion houses still do a large chunk of their business after the shows. Such is the case at Armani and Gianfranco Ferré.
Ferré ceo Massimo Macchi said pre-collection orders to franchisees have already reached the company's goal for the entire spring season. He added that clients buying the lower-priced Ferré collection are buying on average 15 percent more than they did a year ago.
"Considering the strong response we got from our franchises," he predicted, "we could see some great surprises after the show."
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion
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Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
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For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)