Tom Ford is changing the fashion industry, maybe forever, eschewing his runway shows. The necessity of fashion weeks and shows has been argued many times now. Some follow the ritual religiously, respecting the occasion as a perfect way of communicating with the audience and sending big messages on social media, while others, who have a more business approach to their craft and have been using fashion shows for reaching the end consumer, started to have some serious doubts. Maybe, just maybe … they have been spending resources on something useless.
And maybe, just maybe … all that buzz, color-splash, shock, and extravaganza never helped the designer reach their customer, which is really the main goal for many modern designers. Just before the great fashion week season starts, Tom Ford went with one-on-one appointments with his end customers and buyers, instead of the traditional way of displaying his new collection.
“In previous seasons, I have presented the collections in my London showroom to the press in an informal format that allows me to speak with journalists while they view and touch the clothes. As we all know, the way in which we show clothes, not only to the press, but also to the consumer, is changing,” Ford told WWD on Thursday.
According to his latest announcement, Ford will be showing his newest men’s and women’s collections in “small intimate” presentations during the New York Fashion Week. Ford explained his choice the following way, “Right now, I think that a certain fluidity is necessary in regards to how we communicate with the consumer. The most important thing to me with a presentation is that it communicates the message of the season and the point of view of the collection. Next season, it feels right to return to a format that is intimate and shows the detail of the clothes.”
It looks like we can forget his initial plans of showcasing the men’s collections in London next month, which would be followed by one-on-one appointments in January and July. Adding more exclusivity, Mr. Ford?
If you’ve been watching Ford for a while, you’ll know that his shows have always been an object for experiments, a search to find new ways of marketing the new collection. Mostly popular in haute couture industry, some of the customers happen to be too sophisticated to purchase a garment that has already walked the runway. Secrecy increases value.
So, does this mean we’re keeping high fashion only for the high class? Obviously, one-on-one appointments are made with customers who can afford to buy a piece from the collection. So, if high fashion designers would withdraw from fashion weeks and shows, this would mean a curtain between their work and the general public, leaving mass-oriented retail collections in charge for shaping public taste and culture.
As a supporter of the fashion-as-art concept, I would never cancel a Dior, Chanel or a Tom Ford fashion show, because then fashion becomes just another branch of business, not art, doesn’t it?
It turns out that Ford is not the only supporter of reconsidering fashion shows, the Council of Fashion Designers of America has also started their own study to better shape the future of fashion shows. The main idea is to interview industry experts for the possibility of altering the fashion shows that are aimed at the retail industry. We might start seeing collections that are already in stores.
The British Fashion Council, in fact, has already gone one step ahead by introducing the London Fashion Weekend, when the showrooms are open for general public and any visitor can purchase a piece directly from the designer.
Although Tom Ford is one of the many designers currently rethinking their marketing strategy, and this process won’t evolve quickly, if there is a high fashion show anywhere near you and you happen to have an invitation, I would not miss it for the world … just in case it’s the last true fashion holiday.
Photo courtesy of Vogue