Robot models. A designer brand ferris wheel. A fashion media-on-blogger smackdown.
The back-to-back string of the highest-profile fashion weeks — New York, London, Milan and Paris — is over, having wrapped up on Wednesday with the end of Paris Fashion Week. The Spring 2017 season was different than the many fashion seasons that have come before it: See-now-buy-now was the seasonal tag, and brands scattered along different aspects of the shop-immediately spectrum.
The shift in in-season showing wasn’t the only part of the past month that pushed fashion week and its purpose for existing a little bit off-track and a little bit forward. Here are four major takeaways from New York, London, Milan and Paris.
Consumerism was front and center
For the first time, editors, buyers and bloggers sitting down to watch a fashion show had to take a second to remember whether or not the collection they were about to see would be going on sale immediately or in six months.
For the brands that followed the see-now-buy-now seasonal shift, this fashion season revolved around getting their products into the hands of shoppers as easily as possible. Ralph Lauren’s fashion show ended at its Madison Avenue store. Burberry live streamed its fashion show at its shops globally before putting its collection on sale. Tommy Hilfiger launched a Facebook Messenger bot to encourage purchases and hosted a pop-up shop at the Tommy Pier spectacle. Alexander Wang took a truck around New York to sell the brand’s newly released collaboration with Adidas.
Platforms got involved, too. Google launched a Shop the Look integration alongside fashion week to bring the latest on-sale collection to the top of search results for a designer name. Facebook’s Canvas ads provided real estate for brands to show detailed photos of its runway shows and collections.
While see-now-buy-now was most prevalent in New York and London, fading into the background by the time fashion week headed to Milan and Paris, the question of the season was whether people were actually interested in buying what they were seeing on the runway. Burberry, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger reported successes, with new items, including outerwear, selling out.
Beyond something to sell, brands showed up with something to say
Chanel’s tech-themed “Data Center Chanel” runway show sent robot models down the runway and, putting one foot to the future. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first collection as the creative director of Dior included shirts that read “We Should All Be Feminists.” Opening Ceremony replaced most models with actors and held an election rally on its catwalk in a show themed “Pageant of the People.” Stella McCartney corralled a team of models to celebrate girl power.
The importance of the quote-unquote brand story bubbled to the surface and then walked the runway in every major city. Fashion critic Tim Blanks called it “the year to stand up and be counted.” With more eyes on the shows than ever before, through live streams, Snapchat, Instagram, Instagram Stories, Facebook Messenger and Twitter, brands made a statement to stand out. And on social, observers responded. Brandwatch data found that the most discussed day during New York Fashion Week was September 14, the day that designer Anniesa Hasibuan made her debut as the show’s first hijab designer, with 13,500 mentions in one hour.
More wearables made their debut
This season, more connected fabrics walked the catwalk. Brands that hadn’t yet stepped into the wearable game made their debut: Public School teamed with FitBit on a wrist wearable that was stylish than the typical black band. Michael Kors debuted its first smartwatch. VFiles and designer Nayana Malhotra dressed models in connected garments that turned their heart patterns into GIFs. Labels Ohne Titel and ThreeAsFour each debuted 3D printed, connected collections.
The usual suspects were involved, too: Chromat debuted a new collection that featured connected items, and Hussein Chalayan teamed up with Intel for a line of glasses and belts that could sense stress.
Still, even as more wearables crowd the fashion space, there’s still not much progress on scale.
“The barrier right now isn’t understanding your customers, it’s, at a large scale, the manufacturing process,” said Body Labs director of marketing Jon Cilley. “We’re not there.”
Tensions between the fashion world and fashion bloggers hit new heights
In notes from Milan Fashion Week, a team of Vogue editors and directors had some choice words about the practices and presence of street style bloggers. Vogue.com news editor Alessandra Codinha called them “gross,” and likened their relationship to fashion to a strippers’ relationship to romance.
Bloggers including Susie Lau, Tommy Ton and Bryan Boy responded, calling Vogue hypocritical and out of touch.
Then, Neiman Marcus got involved. During an earnings call, CEO Karen Katz blamed the blogging world for blasting out photos from the runways, sparking oversaturation, and launching the see-now-buy-now spiral. Bloggergate was born, and the bubble came closer to bursting.