NEW YORK — The Council of Fashion Designers of America is expected today to release its study with the Boston Consulting Group into the future of fashion shows.
Sources indicated that a solid recommendation won’t necessarily be given but rather, BCG will raise the issues concerning the way fashion shows are currently being conducted and what improvements could be made. As reported, the CFDA retained BCG in December to evaluate the future of women’s and men’s fashion shows in New York, and BCG surveyed industry experts to explore a possible shift to shows that are more consumer-facing and more closely aligned with retail deliveries.
The launch of the study set off a rush this season for designers to introduce show-now, buy-now pieces, or in the cases of Burberry and Tom Ford, shift the way they will do shows come September. It also created two firmly opposing camps: New York and London, which seemed to be in favor of more in-season shows, versus Milan and Paris, which are against the idea and are sticking to the current format.
While Diane von Furstenberg, chairman of the CFDA, and Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, were said to be pretty clear about the need to innovate, participants in the group meetings seemed comfortable sharing their views and concerns, according to one attendee. The powers-that-be have also been “very open to listening,” the source said.
In addition to the estimated 40 meetings that BCG had with individual companies, there was a series of group meetings with a cross-section of designers, retailers, editors and influencers. Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Jenna Lyons of J. Crew, Rag & Bone’s David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, Neiman Marcus’ Ken Downing, and Saks Fifth Avenue’s Marc Metrick were among those who voiced their opinions.
“Some were very sure-footed about doing in-season shows because people almost have product fatigue due to the lapse between the shows and deliveries. With the speed of light that we are living in because of the digital age, we are all leaving a lot on the table,” a survey participant said.
“What I think is good is that we’re talking. What’s been a bit apparent, and it may be due to the American spirit, but the Americans are more prone to hit reset and they’re taking a really introspective look at the entire system and the potential of executing change,” said one participant, who preferred not to be identified. “From all the recent feedback, it’s not looking as though there is as much interest from the other side of the pond.”
Among the issues that have been discussed are:
• Several seemed to be in agreement that emerging designers and smaller companies could not financially afford to lose a season’s worth of production and fabric, should consumer-facing shows be put into effect next season.
• Apparently, there has been a good deal of discussion about the anticipated need to embargo images during showroom or salonlike presentations or shows to protect designs that are shown in advance.
• The development of luxury and designer product generally requires four to six months to produce and that is not expected to change any time soon.
• The need to take a hard look at the number of people invited to showroom presentations that could potentially be held in advance of the season, as another way of trying to protect buzz about yet-to-be-released collections.
• Tweaking delivery schedules so that shipments are sent closer to season may improve retail.
• The complexity of the prospect of a designer dealing with two collections simultaneously deserves great attention.
• As manufacturing in China becomes more costly, observers wondered how the ongoing increase in U.S. production could potentially play into demand for consumer-oriented fashion shows.
Not surprisingly the consensus seems to be that some will race to do direct-to-consumer shows and others will hold off. Above all else, further discussion is essential, sources said, adding that the survey will not be a one-and-done situation.