“What is Paris? Paris is undisputedly the fashion capital of creation. As far as we are concerned, the present system is still valid,” Ralph Toledano told WWD. Toledano is the head of the Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, the governing body for fashion in France. Toledano has announced that Paris Fashion Week will not be supporting the #seebuywear trend some designers are following, showing their ready-to-wear collections in season, which cuts out the waiting time for consumers. While people, such as Toledano, do not see a problem with the system, they do agree that there is an essence of luxury that is lost in the process; “Our clientele is educated and informed on how the system works,” he said.
All in all, the Federation agreed that there are many things that make this system not the right one for luxury fashion. First, Toledano cited the process designers use to create the lines. He pointed out that they would have to finish their collections and simply let them sit and wait for the season to roll around to show and sell. The clothes would still be created in the same time frame; they would just be sitting around collecting dust. There would also be the issue of potential image leakage, which would take the agency away from the designer, as they would no longer be in control of when the public saw designs. The images “would be in the hands of pirates,” as Toledano worded things.
Next, he mentioned how much more complicated and strained the supply chain would become. “It takes several weeks to produce fabrics. It takes some weeks to sew and embellish the garments,” he continued. “The supply chain is something very precise and very organized. It’s not something you can ignore; it’s a reality.” So the rushed ordering and showing process would put a strain on all parties involved, and the rushed work could inevitably lead to a lower quality of product, or simpler designs later on down the road.
Finally, and one of the most cited arguments among fashion followers is that there would be no more delayed gratification for the clothes, which takes away one of the best things about luxury fashion. “Desire and dreams are part of the buying process,” Toledano added.
For the time being, there are many designers who agree with this, and will continue to uphold the traditional fashion calendar of showing for spring in October and for fall in March. Among these designers are Agnes B, Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloé, Dior, Dries Van Noten, Hermes, Isabel Marant, Issey Miyake, Kenzo, Lanvin, Leonard, Maison Margiela, Nina Ricci, Paul Smith, and Sonia Rykiel.
Despite the general agreement that this system is not right for luxury fashion, Toledano suggested the positive possibilities for smaller brands that are more focused on marketing and lifestyle. Although this would never really affect Paris Fashion Week, because, according to WWD, there is a rigorous process for selecting designers to showcase, based on “creativity, craftsmanship, and innovation.
Photo courtesy of Vogue