Last year, things changed so unexpectedly in life and the world, it seems a bit foolish to go making predictions for this year. But that is just the kind of fool I am. So here it is.
Fashion weeks have lost their relevance and will die off. This is a pet prediction for me and so far I have always been wrong, but this time may be the charm. My reasoning – the law of fashion is that popularity is the predictor of death for any trend.
To say that fashion weeks have grown popular is an understatement – its a freakin’ 300 ring circus out there. In New York City last season there were over 300 shows, both offsite and at the tents, in a week. How many shows out of that number were actually directional enough to warrant fashion coverage? What fashion media outlet has the personnel and resources to sort the wheat from the chaff, especially when so many of them have to attend advertisers shows whether they are newsworthy or not? Its a juggernaut that is often more despised than anticipated by the fashion community, and if they had the collective will to strike, they probably would – but they won’t, with a superfluous surplus of bloggers typing away in the tents.
Beyond that, there are now fashion weeks all over the world, each vying for the attention of local media. In Canada I’ve already lost count of all of the fashion weeks. Toronto Fashion Week and Montreal Fashion Week – perhaps Canada has the talent to sustain two quality weeks, barely. But two fashion weeks in Ottawa, two fashion weeks in Vancouver? What for?
When everyone is doing it, the value of each fashion show is reduced. Runway has lost its exclusivity and therefore its meaning. The time is ripe for a market correction, and I would look towards the fashion forward to lead the way.
This year we have seen some powerful designers drop out of New York’s Mattel Fashion Week. Betsey Johnson. Vera Wang. Other designers have opted to scale back their shows and tighten up their invitation lists. If the big name designers can’t hack the bottom line, it stands to reason that the upstarts will hesitate to make the leap of faith. Showing can be a death knell for a designer with a lean marketing budget. This past year in Toronto I saw two designers fold right after showing at a fashion week – Arthur Mendonça and Janet Hill – whatever PR they generated is rendered worthless and evaporates.
Clever designers will figure out other ways to get their names out there and make sales – whether it is focusing their resources on connecting with buyers and media directly or broadcasting to the world via the internet, there are so many inventive options for the entrepreneurial out there that the idea of showing at any fashion week seems unimaginative and old fashioned.
What about the media? Mass layoffs are happening at magazines and newspapers. The rumour mill has it that IMG will not be as generous with media passes for bloggers this time around. Invitations for the big shows will be fewer and fiercely fought-over. It will be a test for the PR industry to sort out which media outlets have the relevance to make them seat-worthy.
These are all pretty obvious observations. What is my prediction? I predict that besides the flagship fashion week in New York City, North American fashion weeks will struggle to find enough talent willing to show. That the big name designers (and upstarts) who choose not to show will stand a greater chance of surviving the recession. Only once the value of fashion weeks has been corrected by the market will the cachet of the runway show recover.
Do you have your own prediction about the future of fashion weeks? Are you a fashion week believer and think I am all wrong? Discuss, dissert, or discredit me now.