London - London Collections: Men may be well under way, but a radical shift in the traditional fashion week calendar has taken root thanks to the rise of the see-now, buy-now business model which threatens the future of men's fashion weeks.
Already a number of changes have taken place for this season's of men's fashion weeks, including the noticeable absence of designers showcasing their upcoming collections. For example, British heritage fashion house Burberry men's catwalk show was once seen as one of the pinnacles of London Collections: Men, usually held on Monday at the end of the fashion week. However, the luxury brand was one of the first designer brands to herald a change in its show format and in February announced plans to host a unified men's and women's wear show this September, during the women's wear fashion week, a move that is in line with the unification of its collections. So this season of LC:M, which runs from June 10 to 13, saw Burberry host a party at its Regent Street flagship store on Friday evening in lieu of a runway show.
Milan Men's Fashion Week, set to take place between June 17 and June 21 will also see a number of usual names miss out on showing a collection this season, including Ermenegildo Zegna, Bottega Veneta, Calvin Klein and Brioni. Bottega Veneta previously announced plans to combine its women's and men's wear collections in a single show in honour of its 59th anniversary, while Ermenegildo Zegna and Calvin Klein have cited a change in designers as the reason behind missing out on Milan Men's Fashion Week. Although Carlo Capasa, head of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion highlighted that many of these brands had their own personal and individual reasons not for showing a collection this season, the fact remains that change is certainly underfoot as the list of absent names from the official show schedule continues to increase.
A list of high profile names are also absent for the newly released Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) New York Fashion Week: Men schedule. Currently in third season, the event, which is set to run from July 11 to 14, will see the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors and John Varvatos show their collections. However designers, Ralph Lauren, Gant and Billy Reid are missing from the list as some have opted to skip a season or show elsewhere over seas. Billy Reid is set to host a presentation in his new showroom on Bond Street after the men's fashion weeks are over for example in addition to organisering a separate "consumer-facing initiative" during his annual Shindig at the end of August, reported WWD. Other brands such as Rag & Bone, Todd Snyder and Timo Weiland are set to include a version of the "see-now, buy-now" business model in their presentations and shows.
However, in spite of the industry wide shake up taking place, a curtain has yet to be drawn over men's fashion weeks. The CFDA continues to promote its upcoming New York Fashion Week: Men, working together with Paper Magazine to develop a campaign for the shows and expects approximately 500 people to attend the shows. "The validity of New York Fashion Week: Men's is still strong. It might not be the giant animal that other men’s fashion weeks have been or are — or might not be much longer," said Steven Kolb, president & chief executive officer, CFDA to Business of Fashion. "But it has a valid purpose and I don't see that going away. There are so many brands that are singularly men's, which feed off the trade show schedule and see the value of being in the market. There is still a validity for NYFW: Men’s in terms of feeding talent that is new and young."
Some Men's Fashion Weeks have decided to take things into their own hands by introducing changes they see fit. For example, the British Fashion Council has announced the renaming of London Collections: Men to London Fashion Week Men's from next season onwards as the organization aims open the events doors to the ever changing needs of the consumer. Currently in its ninth season, London Collections: Men has grown from a two day showcase to a four day event, and the new name is said to better reflects the event's increasing consumer focus as this season saw a growing number of consumer facing events take place simultaneously with LC:M. "As fashion weeks change and our businesses start showing to consumers, we need to open our doors to more consumer-facing content," said Dylan Jones, London Collections" Men chairman and editor of GQ in a statement.
"Over the next six months, London Collections: Men will embrace London Fashion Week Men’s as a title to better engage with a consumer audience." Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the BFC also welcomes the blurring of gender boundaries when it comes to fashion and celebrates designers such as Craig Green use of female models to showcase his collection to appeal to his "pre-existing female clients." However, she is keen to ensure that this does not "eclipse the fact" that LC:M is also the platform to promote men's wear-only brands and leading men's wear talent. "We also recognise that blending shows does cause challenges for audiences that may not traditionally travel to menswear shows," said Rush to Business of Fashion.
"We take this point seriously and are exploring new ways in which we can work with audiences to make this work or deliver exclusive content around the shows."
Photos: Catwalkpictures.com and CFDA