Last December, the CFDA began exploring options for restructuring New York Fashion Week, and on Thursday morning the results to a study conducted by the organization were released in an official study report. Over the course of their study, the CFDA gathered input from 50 different insiders within the industry during a series of formal interviews.
The study addressed the standard NYFW format, and expanded on the conversation that has arisen regarding that. What surfaced was a patterned call for change, but in a multitude of different suggested ways. A key element to the results of this study was the idea that there is no set way to enact a new model on all designers, but rather that each brand should decide what is right for themselves.
“The responsibility of the CFDA is the provide information to help designers decide what is right for them, alleviate the pressure, and give them the freedom to allocate their resources in a way that is best for them,” said CFDA chairman Diane von Furstenberg.
This concept was already partially enacted during this season’s NYFW. One of the most commonly mentioned issues about the traditional setup of the biannual runway event was the idea of in-season relevancy. Designers chose to relieve this in different ways for this past season, and will likely be joined by others later on down the road, either by adopting the same approaches or by creating their own.
Rebecca Minkoff presented a collection of in-season clothes in order to capture the audience’s interest, and not give them time to lose interest before the four to six month release time that would otherwise be in place. Burberry and Tom Ford showed their men’s and women’s lines at the same time, while Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler, Theory, and Tory Burch, among many others, adopted a see-now-buy-now runway show, where a capsule collection was released on the same day as the runway show.
The results of the study showed that interviewees agreed on three major challenges that are presented with the current fashion week system. Designers are fighting to deliver their products earlier than other, which results in earlier markdowns in the season they are released in, thus resulting in a loss of potential profit from selling their products at full price. The second challenge was a “decreasing perception of newness.” Now that runway shows are available for live-streaming around the world, “Fast Fashion brands” are able to create looks with similar trends, so once the fashion week collections are available, the trends have already been in the market for months. The former may not trump the latter, but it certainly takes away from the newness and excitability.
Finally, designers are dealing with creative burnout. There is a call for greater complexity, in that pre-season collections are now necessary, creating a time crunch for season clothes. This added level of pressure doesn’t do designers justice, and it calls forward the need for a structured system with downtime for designers.
Many designers suggested the idea of an in-season activation. The garments would still be shown at NYFW, and have the six month long waiting time, but then there would be an activation during the in-season NYFW, which would feature the looks currently available in stores. This was one of many ideas presented as a new potential model for NYFW.
As the search for solutions continues, the CFDA has established clear roles in the process. The organization will be supporting designers and their decisions for personal brand solutions, and will make sure the matter is always a topic kept open for discussion between all industry insiders. The CFDA will also be working with international parties to come up with potential solutions for individual designers to adopt, and will be in charge of organizing the schedule of an updated New York Fashion Calendar.
It also offers to help and support designers trying to make a transition into a new model. There is a CFDA guidebook to help with potential issues that will be posted on its website in the next couple of weeks. It will look to offer relevant case studies on the matter and share results from experimentation to promote further study and learning for the best possible results. The industry will be changing, and it seems the set solution will be dependent on the brand, and the CFDA is ready to help in any way it can.
Photo courtesy of Vogue