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Michael Kors Is the Latest Brand to Depart from the Fashion Calendar

The American fashion giant will move to producing two collections per year, and will sell its clothes to retailers before it reveals its product to the public. It also will skip New York Fashion Week this September.
A Michael Kors store in Sunway Pyramid shopping mall in Malaysia. | Source: Shutterstock
By
  • Chavie Lieber
BoF PROFESSIONAL

NEW YORK, United States — Michael Kors is the latest brand to abandon the traditional calendar.

The American fashion giant will now produce two fashion collections a year — one for spring/summer and the other for fall/winter, leaving behind the model of four collections a year that are developed months ahead of scheduled sales.

"I have for a long time thought that the fashion calendar needs to change," Kors said in a statement. "It's exciting for me to see the open dialogue within the fashion community about the calendar—from Giorgio Armani to Dries Van Noten to Gucci to YSL to major retailers around the globe — about ways in which we can slow down the process and improve the way we work. We've all had time to reflect and analyze things, and I think many agree that it's time for a new approach for a new era."

Michael Kors won’t show a collection at New York Fashion Week in September, and will instead present its upcoming Spring/Summer 2021 later this fall. The company will also start selling its collections to retailers before it presents publicly, giving its supply chain more time for production.

We've all had time to reflect and analyze things, and I think many agree that it's time for a new approach for a new era.

The brand’s plan is also to deliver clothes to stores incrementally, instead of entire collections dropped at once, in order to “give the consumer time to absorb the fall deliveries, which will just be arriving in September, and not confuse them with an overabundance of additional ideas, new seasons, products and images,” the designer said.

Michael Kors joins a slew of brands shaking up the fashion industry’s schedule. Companies big and small are reevaluating how they ideate, deliver, sell, and discount their clothes.

The current fashion system — where brands develop collections many months before they are presented and sold — has been seen as one of several major flaws that contributed to the financial losses of Covid-19. The system forces brands to deliver collections that don't correspond with seasons, with outerwear hitting the floors in middle of the summer and spring dresses appearing in the dead of the winter. This schedule was developed well before the introduction of e-commerce — not to mention other technologies that make it easier and faster to develop and sell clothes.

As the pandemic forced stores to shutter and shoppers to halt spending, brands have been stuck with billions of dollars in unsold inventory that will have to be aggressively marked down. Executives from Capri, the parent company that owns Michael Kors along with Jimmy Choo and Versace, said in February that the company was expecting a $100 million loss from coronavirus.

Last month, a group of designers led by Belgian designer Dries van Noten wrote an open letter that called for a change to how fashion deliveries and discounted were executed. Another proposal from designers and executives facilitated by BoF called for a "rewiring" the fashion calendar entirely. The shared goal is to realign inventory deliveries with more current seasons, which could, in turn, delay the necessities of discounting. Gucci has already announced it will move off the fashion calendar, as did Saint Laurent.

Prior to the late 1990s, the New York Spring collections were shown from late October to the beginning of November, after the Paris collections.

As Kors pointed out, the fashion calendar was more aligned with retailers' selling schedules in years’ past.

“Prior to the late 1990s, the New York Spring collections were shown from late October to the beginning of November, after the Paris collections. That calendar was in place for many decades and worked quite smoothly,” he said. “It is also important to return to the idea that September and March are key months in launching the beginning of seasonal selling for the consumer. This is when key editorial and media content hit, when the weather is starting to change, and when people are ready to absorb new collections and product — that they can wear and shop immediately.”

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