Backstage at Givenchy RTW Spring 2020

Efforts to delay markdowns of seasonal fashions are gathering steam, with Givenchy and some of its wholesale partners not reducing prices of its spring 2020 collection before July, even in private sales, WWD has learned.

A letter from the French fashion house, sent to retailers and seen by WWD, details shifts in its delivery calendar in the wake of coronavirus interruptions and declares, “we have decided to move our retail markdown period to July/August for spring 2020 and December 2020/January 2021 for fall 2020.”

“This calendar will be implemented across our retail network starting with the U.S.,” the letter says. “Some key players in the U.S. have already decided to align with this strategy and will not mark down the spring 2020 collection before July/August.”

Contacted by WWD, Givenchy would only say it “intends to adapt its markdown periods in its own retail network according to its new collection delivery calendar.”

The missive comes as many prominent industry players seem eager to fix a fashion system marred by too much product; deliveries out of whack with seasons and consumer demand, and discounting without discipline.

“We have to find a formula for which sales aren’t just a big writing on the storefronts, but are rather a more personal, quieter, direct formula with clients. E-commerce also needs to make some choices,” Giorgio Armani told WWD earlier this month. “The ideal situation would be if we could limit the offer and match the timing of our collections with the ‘seasonal needs’ of our clients; in this way we could avoid or dramatically limit discounts.”

Saks Fifth Avenue is leading that charge, recently vowing to shift merchandising to better align with customer preferences with a focus on buy-now-wear-now, and urging the entire industry to shift to later deliveries. However, the retailer declined a request to specify how these changes in the product cycle might impact its own markdown calendar.

Balenciaga recently said on Twitter that its spring show collection will remain in its “directly owned stores worldwide and will become part of our fall 2020 collection.”

Certain brands, including Prada and Gucci, had previously scrapped or phased out seasonal discounts.

Meanwhile, several online luxury retailers have already been discounting spring 2020 collections. Matchesfashion.com is offering 30 percent off as part of a midseason sale.

As early as mid-March, when lockdowns were just coming into force starting in France and the U.K., Italian sites LuisaViaRoma, Antonia and Modes, plus British players including Fenwick, were already marking down spring collections by from 15 to 50 percent.

“Honestly, I think it is going to be a little bit of the Wild West this season with markdowns,” said one multibrand retailer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He described a range of recommended sale dates from various European and American designers — anywhere from end of May to early July for spring and summer merchandise.

In its letter, Givenchy said it plans to deliver women’s fall 2020 at the end of June, men’s winter at the end of August and winter women’s at the end of September.

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