The men’s fashion calendar is in a state of flux.
The rise of the co-ed show, where major designers are opting to show their men’s wear during the traditional February and September women’s dates, is seriously impinging on the men’s market.
Probably the hardest hit this past season was Milan Men’s Fashion Week, following the decisions by Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Missoni and Etro to go co-ed.
London was also impacted. The big names — including Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford and Moschino — all decided to show in different cities or formats, while a number of smaller calendar stalwarts were absent, too, including Sibling, which went into voluntary liquidation earlier this year; Agi & Sam, which is restrategizing, and Casely-Hayford, which is switching its focus to retail.
One bright spot on the European circuit was Pitti Uomo, the international trade show in Florence. The most recent edition in June found a calendar chock-full of shows and presentations that included J.W. Anderson and Off-White events along with special guests such as Hugo Boss, Christian Louboutin, Federico Curradi and Alanui.
Paris seemed to hold its own the best, with a bevy of new names added to the spring calendar to join the big guns: Louis Vuitton, Dries Van Noten, Dior Homme, Balenciaga, Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens, Valentino, Kenzo and Comme des Garçons.
Paris also saw the addition of some American designers, including John Elliott, Tim Coppens, Heron Preston, Amiri and Teddy Santis. And Harlem native A$AP Bari, a member of the A$AP Mob collective, presented his first collection of cut-and-sewn pieces for Vlone.
The influx of Americans to Paris contributed to a less-than-stellar spring edition of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, where the list of missing names — Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Thom Browne, Joseph Abboud, John Varvatos and others — was seemingly longer than those who opted to participate.
Raf Simons, with his “Blade Runner”-inspired show in an alley in Chinatown, was undoubtedly the highlight of the otherwise lackluster week. And while some other big American brands did present in New York — Todd Snyder, Boss, Perry Ellis — the calendar was filled with a lot of unknown names and smaller brands.
The situation may become even more perilous in February when the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the organizers of the event, will move to a “decentralized model.” The shows will leave their longtime home at Skylight Clarkson Sq in TriBeCa and the CFDA is searching out a variety of venues around the city — penthouses, hotels, galleries, screening rooms, exhibition spaces — to house shows. It is also working with the Skylight Group to identify other potential spots around town where shows can be held.
Despite the growing pains for the New York men’s shows, which have been separated from women’s for five seasons, the CFDA is committed to continuing with them and will still provide financial support for the small, emerging brands. “Our support to the designers is just evolving,” said Mark Beckham, vice president of marketing for the CFDA.