Could the coed trend wind up killing separate men’s fashion weeks?
That’s the question organizers and industry followers are asking as the latest round of runway shows gets ready to kick off.
The fall 2018 men’s calendar will begin in London this weekend, followed by Milan and then Paris. New York’s men’s shows will bring the season to a close after they wrap up their three-day run Feb. 5 to 7.
Some of the biggest names, both in Europe and the States, are now eschewing men’s-only shows in favor of combining their men’s offering with women’s in one cohesive package.
And so in London, the men’s calendar was wiped of Burberry, JW Anderson and Vivienne Westwood, while in Milan, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Moncler, Gucci, Missoni, Jil Sander and Moschino have all opted to show on the women’s calendar. In Paris, Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Balenciaga all jumped ship, too.
There are exceptions such as Dsquared2, Vetements and Etro, which are sticking with the men’s calendar, and Bottega Veneta, which is actually showing during New York Fashion Week this time to help promote the opening of its new store there.
But perhaps the most vulnerable is the less-established New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Created by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in July 2015, the sixth edition will be one day shorter and devoid of many of the big-name designers that help move the needle in American men’s fashion.
This time around, CFDA has shifted the dates so that the men’s shows are held the three days before women’s begins its seven-day run on Feb. 8. The goal was to create “one 10-day fashion week,” according to Mark Beckham, vice president of marketing for the organization.
As a result, nowhere on the men’s calendar will you find the names Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger or Calvin Klein. Coach, Tom Ford, Michael Kors and even some of the more-directional labels such as John Elliott, Opening Ceremony and Linder are all on the women’s part of the calendar, while Public School said it was going to launch a new direct-to-consumer model instead of showing at all.
To be fair, there are still designers committed to NYFW: Men’s, including Joseph Abboud and Perry Ellis, both of which are returning this season, and Raf Simons, who has been a mainstay since he was tapped as the creative director of Calvin Klein and relocated to the Big Apple. Todd Snyder and Ovadia & Sons are also among the larger brands that have remained loyal to the men’s-specific calendar. And Hugo Boss is back again as well.
Moving men’s to abut the women’s dates in February is a smart move and, according to Abboud, should attract more editors and more buzz. “The problem has been getting editors to travel in for the men’s shows, so having them closer to women’s is a benefit,” he said at the time.
But challenges remain. CFDA has left its former centralized home, Skylight Clarkson Sq, which is forcing designers to find alternative sites around the city, a move that could present a financial burden for smaller brands.
So while next month’s edition will undoubtedly be fine for the men’s wear contingent, the big question remains: What will happen at the spring 2018 shows in July? The whole reason for establishing a men’s-specific runway show calendar was to better align with the industry’s market dates. The women’s September dates are too late for men’s wear retailers. But with fewer and fewer men’s designers on the calendar, will those who remain be able to attract retailers, editors and influencers to their shows?
Still, CFDA is sticking to its guns. As Beckham said recently: “We wouldn’t move men’s to September [to coincide with the women’s calendar]. That wouldn’t make sense.” And in fact, the July dates are already set: July 9 to 12, he said.
So time will tell just how robust that lineup will be as the industry continues to grapple with a changing landscape.