Fashion month is upon us once again: New York shows kick off this Thursday, and they’ll be followed by week-long events in London, Milan and Paris. Given that the industry is in such flux right now — with support building for a rejiggered fashion calendar that privileges in-season fashion, not to mention the uneasy state of the world at large following the U.S. election — it’s sure to be a memorable season. Below, we break down exactly what to expect.
NYFW will lose steam.
A slew of top-tier brands used to showing in New York are either sitting this one out or opting for a new locale. Los Angeles is one of the season’s hot spots, which adds fuel to the fire that the city is becoming a fashion capital of its own: Rachel Zoe and Rebecca Minkoff kicked things off with L.A.-based shows within the last few days, and Tommy Hilfiger, Rachel Comey and Tom Ford are set to follow in their footsteps in the weeks ahead. Rodarte, on the other hand, is opting for a small presentation in Paris and plans to sync up with the couture schedule starting in July, in hopes that the earlier delivery schedule will be a boon to business. DKNY — which recently parted ways with Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne — will rely solely on showroom appointments, while Hugo Boss will be off the calendar entirely, citing a need to better align its women’s and menswear collections (and further fueling rumors that head designer Jason Wu is on his way out).
Although Rag & Bone will remain in its home city of NYC, it will be foregoing a runway show in favor of a fashion week kickoff party on February 9 — it will double as a celebration of the brand’s 15th anniversary and will be followed by an open-to-the-public exhibition, details of which have been left vague.
“We felt that replacing our runway show with an exhibition that will also be open to the public felt totally natural, as it allows us to celebrate those who have contributed to our story so far, as well as those who are part of our future,” founder Marcus Wainwright told Vogue.
It’s unclear what all of these changes means for the future of NYFW — but for now, it means less show-hopping for show-goers in NYC.
Politics will take center stage.
The current political climate has already inspired many in the fashion industry to take a strong stand on issues like women’s rights and immigration, and we’re bound to see that continue throughout fashion month. Opening Ceremony was among the first to make a political statement this season — on January 28, in collaboration with choreographer Justin Peck, it staged a ballet at Lincoln Center called “The Times Are Racing,” which saw dancers in protest-themed tees paying homage to the beauty of melting pots including New York.
On the same note, Rebecca Minkoff carried the torch this weekend when she chose musician MILCK to close the show with her song “Quiet,” which has become known as the unofficial Women’s March anthem.
Don’t be surprised to see similar issues raised at Marc Jacobs’ show — the designer took a pointed stance against dressing Melania Trump and has a penchant for theatrical shows. While not on the official calendar, Kirby Jean-Raymond, who is behind the upstart label Pyer Moss, is also likely to engage further in the political commentary it’s become known for during its show on Valentine’s Day. The designers’ spring 2017 show, titled Bernie vs. Bernie (as in Sanders and Madoff), acted as a commentary on the American economy, with its conflicting poles of wealth and poverty. Models decked out in deconstructed Wall Street garb walked to a soundtrack of cash registers on loop — subtle it was not.
What’s more, the CFDA announced a partnership with Planned Parenthood yesterday that will have more than 40 designers (including Carolina Herrera and Jonathan Simkhai) donning “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood” pins as they take their final bow.
See-now buy-now will rise.
After lamenting the impractical fashion calendar for some time now — with its shows geared towards future seasons and, thus, delayed in-store delivery — we’re starting to see more and more designers opting for the see-now-buy-now model. Rebecca Minkoff, who first tested this out in early 2016, continued the trend this weekend — she made her Spring 2017 collection available for online purchase immediately following her show. Tommy Hilfiger will follow suit with his Venice Beach–based show on February 8, and other early adopters like Ralph Lauren and Burberry (both of whom made the transition in September) will revisit the model. H&M will be joining these ranks when it shows its main collection in Paris on March 3 — the brand has solid experience in the see-now-buy-now, thanks to staging its myriad of designer collaboration shows, where all styles are direct-to-sale.
A handful of brands — including Alexander Wang, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Prada — dipped their toes into see-now buy-now last year by way of capsule collections. Though they wouldn’t confirm when reached for comment, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them tackle the model in some form this season.
“This idea of being able to click and have something immediately resonates with the era we are in now,” said Jenifer Ekstein, a consultant at Vivaldi. “Sales have spiked for certain designers like Tom Ford and Rebecca Minkoff after debuting fashion shows that are immediately shoppable — but it will be interesting to see, with the proliferation of the see-now buy-now model, if it leads to higher sales for the entire retail season or if there’s just a short-term spike [right after] the show that eventually peters out.”
Raf’s return will be big.
The designer on everyone’s minds this year (and every year, really) is Raf Simons, who made his New York City return last week to much fanfare with his namesake menswear line. On February 10, he’ll follow up with his Calvin Klein ready-to-wear debut, which will unite women’s and menswear. Given that it’s his first show as the brand’s creative director, critics and fans alike will be waiting to see how he spins — and, likely, rejuvenates — the classic brand.