Pre-fall fashion collections may be important for retailers and designers alike, but for those in the fashion media, covering the season has become a point of contention.
The coverage question for those in the long-lead press is a multifaceted one, as more designers are choosing not to release images before the collections hit stores — May for pre-fall; November for resort. While that move has caused long-lead editors to haggle for exclusives in print, it has also made them rethink how and if the season should be covered at all.
Part of the problem is that media outlets don’t have the resources to fully cover what is an ever-expanding list of pre-fall presentations and shows, while others wonder if the reader even cares about another, smaller fashion season — despite its commercial importance to retailers and fashion brands.
Still, consumer fashion magazine editors largely emphasized the importance of pre-fall, a collection that is one of the most wearable and, therefore, relevant to the average reader.
“Though they fall outside of what most people think of as the traditional fashion calendar [the official fashion weeks of spring and fall runway shows], trans-seasonal collections like pre-fall and resort are actually very important because retailers buy more from those collections and keep them in stores the longest. Therefore, it is critical that we cover them in service to our readers,” said Marie Claire creative director Nina Garcia.
Garcia said that while her team sees and often shoots the collections ahead of time for the magazine, she acknowledged that some designers want to keep collections under embargo.
“We always try to be respectful to the brand,” she said. “When a celebrity is wearing a look on our cover, we ask for the exclusive. We are also continuously working with major brands to create exclusive stories in an effort to bring something special to our reader.”
“The focus is really to shoot the stuff when it’s available to the reader,” Leive said, explaining that the magazine will feature a collection if there’s an important look or newsy moment, such as Lily-Rose Depp’s runway debut at Chanel’s pre-fall 2017 show.
On its web site, Glamour is also somewhat selective with coverage; it showcases certain designers, but it doesn’t write any reviews.
“We’ve been adapting to covering pre-fall [differently],” Wilson said. “At first we were covering it digitally and now we’re covering it more in print.”
Part of the reason why InStyle has pulled back from covering pre-fall digitally is because readers didn’t “relate” to the news of the season as they had for fall and summer collections.
“It’s scattered and there’s less of a trend,” he said of pre-fall. “We find it’s quite beneficial to cover them in magazine shoots.”
The editor noted that fashion-obsessed readers have likely seen the pre-fall runway images already, and therefore, oddly, designers who are reticent to release images are doing them a favor.
How? Wilson said he’s able to work with those brands that prefer to withhold images, convincing them to release exclusive visuals to the title, which, in turn, makes InStyle’s coverage different from its competitors. Wilson said this sort of dealmaking is also taking place with designers partaking in the direct-to-store runway movement. For “buy-now,” fashion publications have been making a multipronged effort to cover the collections: securing exclusive first looks of designers’ collections for print, live-streaming the runway shows and documenting what’s on sale via social media, to name a few.
“What’s happening is, some designers are giving exclusive looks from September collections. We are negotiating with them,” he said. “It makes it fun. It’s a new frontier.”
At the same time, Wilson lamented the sheer volume of shows and the mandate on designers to produce more fashion, and journalists to cover all the shows.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said, adding that the “bigger issue” isn’t media covering the shows, but manufacturers “mass producing” those looks “before designers are able to get them into stores.”
Counterfeiting is also an issue as many designers are unable to show a full collection and get it into stores before it is copied.
“It’s almost this surreal manifestation. There’s almost an exhaustion. That’s where fashion is going,” he said, before turning to the importance of print publications in fashion.
According to Wilson, even though digital and social media are central to fashion coverage, print is still a way for fashion to maintain its aura of exclusivity.
“There’s no fear that print is going to be excluded from the fashion industry,” he said. “There’s a part of fashion that needs to be exclusive. It’s insidery. Print plays a big role in the fashion industry’s mystique.”
Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Elle declined to take part in this story.