MILAN—Etro is the latest company to combine its men’s and women’s fashion shows. The brand’s first coed show will be held in September in Milan and will present the spring/summer 2018 season.
But different from other brands that have gone coed – such as Gucci, Burberry, Bottega Veneta and Dsquared2 – Etro’s two collections are helmed by different designers. Veronica Etro is creative director of the women’s division and her brother Kean leads the men’s category.
According to the company, presenting both collections “in a unified fashion show is the best way to strengthen the image of the brand, creating the opportunity to tell Etro’s story and values in the most coherent and effective way possible.”
Jacopo Etro, global communications vice president at the family-owned company, said that, “precisely because the two creative directors are different, the decision strengthens the brand’s unity of message with the same themes.” He emphasized the importance of having a strong brand message, which must be communicated “in a single, cohesive and unequivocal way. If you don’t have a strong message, your risk succumbing,” he contended.
Etro is opting to show during Milan Women’s Fashion Weeks in February and September and not during the January and June men’s calendars because the presentation of the men’s collections “can afford to be delayed.” January and June were not moments for business but rather of communication, he said. Also, “the men’s press contingent is less numerous.”
In terms of business, the two divisions almost equally contribute to the brand’s total revenues. Both categories are generally characterized by the brand’s staple vibrant colors, rich fabrics and vivid patterns. “The women’s division weighs a little more with its leather goods,” said Etro. He also remarked on the positive effects on distribution. “This works also because the collections are sold together in the same stores, they have the same windows, and will show the same message.”
There are around 200 Etro stores globally and the brand is also available at around 700 multibrand stores.
“In any case, this is not an economic issue. It is more related to the image of the brand,” Etro observed. Nor is the decision related to timing, although he conceded “it can help deliveries and communication.” He also noted that, for the first time, the company will present the men’s main collection in June. “This will be more of a business moment,” said Etro.
Both Veronica and Kean Etro will take a bow on the catwalk. Asked if the fact that they are siblings will help in this strategy, Jacopo Etro responded in the affirmative. “They have started to work as a team.”
The show will continue to be held at Milan’s ice skating rink with a longer, more serpentine-like catwalk to facilitate visibility for the expected increase in the number of guests.
“Maintaining two separate, disconnected calendars has been a result of tradition rather than practicality,” said Gucci’s president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri last year when the company revealed the intention to combine the two collections.
Tradition has certainly been overturned as each company is forging its own path.
In Gucci’s case, creative director Alessandro Michele’s gender-blending designs easily led to a coed show, saying at the time that it seemed “only natural” for him to take that route. Gucci’s first such show took place in February at its new sprawling Milan headquarters.
Dsquared2 also combined the two collections but decided to show in January for the first time during Milan Men’s Fashion Week, while Bottega Veneta showed the two in February.
For his debut collection at Calvin Klein last month, Raf Simons showed clothes for men and women, his-and-hers versions of similar concepts.
Burberry and Tom Ford have also opted to show men’s and women’s together, but in a seasonless — or see-now-buy-now — mode, which is a format that has not been appealing to Italian brands.