A new era on the catwalk?
A new era on the catwalk?

Some people are saying that the fashion industry has reached breaking point. The reassessment of fashion show presentation formats by the big haute couture houses and some rupture decisions that have since been made public give the idea that we are seeing the emergence of a new paradigm in the sector.

At a time when novelty is coming in new guises at a dizzying pace, at a time when the different creative directions from top labels are engaged in disruptive campaigns with the advent of the digital, in short, in an industry that has always been associated with fast forward, the time has come to press the pause button.

This is the conclusion designers have come to. Feeling the need to open the debate on the future of the industry to the public, they have begun to implement new approaches with regard to the presentation of their collections. The first sign came in 2014, from Miuucia Prada, who risked everything to put on a mixed fashion show at the Milan fashion week, introducing a men’s collection on a catwalk that was supposed to be just for women. A visionary who guaranteed that other pairs would  follow in their footsteps. They weren’t wrong.

A year later, in the summer of 2015, another novelty, this time from labels such as Saint LaurentBurberryGivenchy and Gucci. The time had come to introduce female models on the catwalks for the men’s fashion weeks. This fact was noted on the Business of Fashion site. A pilot experiment that was a success and that has since led to new, more daring decisions. Tom Ford, for example, announced that his autumn-winter collection would be presented in September, while Burberry stated that in 2017, it would only be presenting two fashion shows, one for each season, an option that was strategically followed by Gucci.

Advantages of unisex fashion shows

Although there is no consensus on the subject, many specialists and designers in favour of the idea believe that mixed fashion shows make it possible to invite more media representatives, bringing together editors of men’s and women’s fashion magazines at a single event, thus leading to considerable cost reassignment and communication opportunities with greater impact.

The idea also includes doing away with the time gap, normally six months, between the presentation of the collections and the time they actually go on sale. According to Bailey, creative director of Burberry, the intention is to make the collection available to buy online immediately after presentation. According to the sales director of the American ready-to-wear line, Brown’s (recently acquired by the Portuguese unicorn, Farfetch), Laura Larbalestier said in a statement to Vogue, "you can see significant positive performance in sales when a label markets its garments immediately after the fashion show”.

On the other hand, there are people who have their doubts about the buy-now-wear-now logic. This is because according to this methodology, the labels will be obliged to produce garments quickly and, as these are often manufactured, there is a risk of compromising quality. This fact is highlighted Susanne Tide-Frater, the Strategic Director of Farfetch.

This discussion will certainly be added to in the future, but this does not invalidate the fact that we are already experiencing a paradigm shift on catwalks all over the world. Here, Nuno Baltazar did it for the first time at the Portugal Fashion AW16 fashion show, an event that has recently been receiving mixed fashion shows from Miguel Vieira, as well as ready-to-wear labels Lion of PorchesCheyenne, and Mad Dragon Seeker, for example. This is in line with the opinion of the charismatic editor of the American Vogue, Anna Wintour, who defends the urgent need for making adjustments in the fashion industry: "The fashion calendar has remained unaltered over the years, unlike the rest of the world. We have to keep up with these changes too”.